Through an Indigenous Lens

by Josie Atkinson

This podcast is of a seminar presented by Josie Atkinson at UNSW Sydney for SSSN on 28th August 2018. Josie’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Evelyn Araluen Corr and involving the audience present on the day.

JOSIE ATKINSON is an Indigenous woman from the Gumbaynggirr Nation from the Mid-North Cost of New South Wales and a currently enrolled in a Master of Philosophy majoring in Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong. She is a trained actress and passionate supporter of education and higher degree academia.

This research focuses on an analysis of the representation of Indigenous people through three major case studies of Australian televised media dramas. In addition, these case studies examine the ways in which Indigenous Australians have been constructed for Australian audiences with an in-depth focus on gender representations; presence and absence and Indigenous-specific and Indigenous non-specific characterization as an expression of Indigeneity as a commodity.

There is a gap of academic research by Indigenous researchers on the representations of Indigenous people in this area. However, there is an abundance of research on and about Indigenous people both historically and currently conducted by non-Indigenous researchers on representations of Indigenous people. It is important for Indigenous people to represent academic discourses through an Indigenous intersectional lens

Three major case studies of television drama series will be utilized: Boney (1971-2; 1992) Neighbours (1985-), The Secret Life of Us (2001-5). Through this investigation it has been revealed that certain problems still exist in the representation of Indigenous people in televised media dramas but there have been some groundbreaking developments in the representation of Indigenous people.

A Good Man with a Gun

by Rodney Wallis


This podcast is of a seminar presented by Dr Rodney Wallis at UNSW Sydney for SSSN on 3rd October 2018. Rodney’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Ben Eldridge and involving the audience present on the day.

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre in December 2012 that claimed the lives of 28 people, including 20 young children, CEO of the National Rifle Association Wayne LaPierre famously declared, “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” In the years since Sandy Hook the NRA and its Republican clients have reliably spewed forth similar rhetoric as a way of combating calls for increased gun control, usually in the wake of yet another mass shooting. While this can rightly be seen as a cynical appeal to the anxieties of a terrified populous (terrified, it must be said, of both violent criminals and government regulation of firearms), it nonetheless speaks to the peculiar resonance of the idea of an armed savior in American culture. In this paper I will explore the ways in which Hollywood has contributed to this ideal through a close examination of the classic, self-consciously mythic western Shane (George Stevens, 1953). Through my examination of Shane I will demonstrate how Westerns throughout this period bound together the image of the gun with notions of heroism, individualism, masculinity, justice, and democratic process, in turn making significant contributions to the promotion and circulation of gun culture throughout the United States.

Icons and Politics in Spanish Cinema


by Váleri Codesido


This podcast is of a seminar presented by Váleri Codesido at UNSW Sydney for SSSN on 31st July 2018. Váleri’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Assoc. Prof. Anne Rutherford and involving the audience present on the day.

VÁLERI CODESIDO has a degree in Audiovisual Communication and Masters in Audiovisual Communication of the Digital Era, both at the Complutense University of Madrid. She has also undertaken Performing Arts studies at Westminster Kingsway College in London. She is a tutor in the Delegation in Spain of Foreign Foundation Institute for the International Education of Students in the subjects of Communication Psychology, Audiovisual Digital Technology and Spanish Film History. She has also directed short films and documentaries and is currently developing a doctoral thesis focused on the History of Spanish cinema.

What cultural and social value can be found in 1970s exploitation cinema? Doctoral candidate Váleri Codesido explores 1970s Spanish exploitation cinema to question what it can tell us about Spain in both a pre- and post- Franco era, and Spain’s relationship with the world, through its explicit portrayal of sex and violence. Váleri also proposes that aesthetic parallels can be found in the Ozploitation films of the 1970s, opening up further questions around the stark differences in Australia’s and Spain’s political and cultural histories.

The Female Hero: The Research-led Screenplay

by Sophia Riley Kobacker


This podcast is of a seminar presented by Sophia Riley Kobacker at UNSW Sydney for SSSN on 1st May 2018. Sophia’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Dr Natalie Krikowa and involving the audience present on the day.

SOPHIA RILEY KOBACKER, Media Researcher and Creative Practice PhD Candidate, earned a BA-Media (2014) and Master of Research (2016) in Macquarie University’s Media Dept. (MMCCS), where she is a proud member of the Walanga Muru Indigenous community. Sophia has studied writing for film and television at NIDA and AFTRS in Sydney, published several short stories and directed short films. Her feature-length screenplay, Little Bit Long Way, is set in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region: A lost orphan, hunted by brutal and corrupt miners, sets out on a thrilling adventure across the Australian desert in search of her new home

The three stages in mythologist Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey narrative model have proven highly adaptable to the three-act screenplay structure, and, like Vladimir Propp’s character functions, are widely referenced in the humanities. Yet, filmmakers have applied the unique narrative model generated by Campbell’s work almost exclusively to masculine heroes in blockbuster films. Theorists have yet to agree upon a settled Female Hero narrative model which embraces Joseph Campbell’s mythological emphasis. My research addresses this gap by creating and demonstrating a socially constructive, culturally resonant narrative model for the contemporary, mythologically-based Female Hero’s Journey in screen narrative.

By engaging with existing knowledge in experimental development, my research constructs a new narrative template that can be applied by screenwriters in the writing of feature-length fictional screenplays that feature a Female Hero as protagonist. This valuable new narrative template is designed to support the box office success of future female-protagonist-led films. Using the screenplay for Little Bit Long Way as an example, this paper discusses how the new narrative model, devised through my research, can be overlayed upon the structure of an original screenplay to tell the story of a more authentic Female Hero’s Journey.

Fassbinder: As He Appears to Us

by Zach Karpinellison


This podcast is of a seminar presented by Dr Zach Karpinellison at UNSW Sydney for SSSN on 17th April 2018. Zach’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Dr Michelle Langford and involving the audience present on the day.

ZACH KARPINELLISON is completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Film Studies at UNSW and working as a projectionist at Golden Age Cinema & Bar. In 2016 he was a guest speaker at the Sydney Film Festival on the ‘Refugees on Film – Cinema without Borders’ panel, and is a current member of the festival’s Film Advisory Panel. He has also worked on the 2017 Persian Film Festival supervising marketing and social media.

This paper argues that Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s appearances in his own films are an important and meaningful part of his filmmaking practice. Fassbinder’s appearances can be organised into three consecutive stages, which I have termed insertion, assertion, and direction. Each of these stages will be explored in this paper to show how they allow Fassbinder to enact a form of creative control. In this way, Fassbinder extends the figure of director by incorporating into the position, the role of author and performer. In this extended capacity Fassbinder exerts a greater control over the moral and political reception of his work. Having presented this analytical framework for understanding his appearances, I then examine his unique involvement in his own films through the lens of critical work and theory about authorship, auteurs and performance. I argue that Fassbinder’s appearances have important implications for the study of authorship and demand a re-examination of the fragile distinctions drawn between the terms director, performer and author. Further, a consideration of Fassbinder’s specific cultural value in the context of the New German Cinema opens other lines of inquiry about his value.

Intersections of Media Effects Research: Developing Socially Responsible Media Production

by Danya Braunstein


This podcast is of a seminar presented by Danya Braunstein at Macquarie University for SSSN on 20th March 2018. Danya’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Chanelle Tarabay and involving the audience present on the day.

DANYA BRAUNSTEIN is a Registered Psychologist (Assoc. MAPS), Researcher, and Media Consultant. In private practice, Danya provides psychological counselling, coaching, and assessments for adults and adolescents. She holds a Master’s degree in Media Psychology, and is currently undertaking a PhD in Psychology. Danya’s doctoral research explores the influence of the cultural and social environment on narrative identity.

Extensive research has demonstrated that exposure to media narratives can affect the individuals who view them by altering thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. Over time these media effects become reinforced and strengthened, consistent with cultivation theories (Potter, 2012). Examples of this research evidence include:

  • Wishful identification with fictional characters influences individuals to become more similar to the idealised characters (Markus & Nurius, 1986; Hoffner, 2011; McAdams, 2013).
  • Representations of media characters and their behaviours are significant influences for young people, often as a consequence of negative portrayals of race, class, sexuality, and gender (Greenberg & Mastro, 2011; Hust & Brown, 2011; Scharrer, 2013).
  • Individuals idiosyncratically adopt, negotiate, or reject the social norms, scripts and schemas, goals, and values communicated through media narratives (Thwaites, Davis, & Mules, 2002).
  • Individuals are entertained by and experience transportation into media narratives, which contributes to narrative persuasion (Green & Dill, 2013).
  • Media producers can embed positive social and health messages within their narratives to educate about important issues, to encourage favourable attitudes, and to change behaviours (Nabi & Moyer-Gusè, 2013).

In this presentation, I discuss how socially responsible media producers can utilise and apply this academic research in their work. Short video clips will be shown to demonstrate the concepts.

Ways of Seeing and Feeling: Rhythm and Pulse

by Sharon Mee


This podcast is of a seminar presented by Dr Sharon Mee at UNSW Sydney for SSSN on 6th March 2018. Sharon’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Dr Richard Smith and involving the audience present on the day.

DR SHARON JANE MEE completed her PhD in 2017 through the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales. Her dissertation conceptualises the cinematic pulse in horror cinema using theorists Jean-François Lyotard, Gilles Deleuze and Georges Bataille. She has presented her work at national and international academic conferences.

DR RICHARD SMITH teaches film studies in the Department of Art History and The University of Sydney. His principle research interest is the temporality and form of the cinematic image, the place of technology and thought in generic and formal change and the range of theories useful for considering these aspects of cinema.

This paper analyses various prototypes of the pulse in cinematic rhythm, namely in the work of American avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage, Structuralist/Materialist filmmaker Peter Kubelka, French Impressionist filmmakers and theorists Jean Epstein and Germaine Dulac, Dadaist filmmakers and artists Hans Richter and Marcel Duchamp. In these prototypes we find that rhythm is concerned with “perceived” movement, and the pulse, by contrast, is concerned with a response to the experience of a “felt” time. Exploring an economy of the pulse in an analysis of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), this paper shows how “splatter” images have the force of “felt” intensities insofar as the pulse is a flexible and momentary intensity that suggests the flow and flexibility of a “felt,” but unseen, operation. The pulse is the force of the intensities that are libidinally invested and which energetically open out the body in the arrangement, set-up, or dispositif. The dispositif is vital for thinking about the spectator as a component in the energetic system of cinema. Thus for cinema, I argue that it is by attending to the investment in libidinal energies that make up the forces of intensity that we find the pulse in the image.

New Intimate Cinema Spaces

by Rebecca Lelli


This podcast is of a seminar presented by Rebecca Lelli at Macquarie University for SSSN on 24th October 2017. Rebecca’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Dr Tara McLennan and involving the audience present on the day.

REBECCA LELLI is a Masters of Research candidate at Macquarie University. Her research interests are how new ‘intimate cinemas’ on personal-digital-devices are changing the ways LGBTQIA+ youth engage with queer narrative texts and how this is shaping contemporary queer politics and activism.

Audiences (or, more accurately, ‘users’) today are engaging with audiovisual narratives in innumerable ways. They may choose to attend a blockbuster in IMAX 4K 3D in reclining-seats at the multiplex, binge-watch the latest Netflix series at home with friends, stream YouTube videos on their smartphone on the train, or watch a movie alone in bed. However, there has been a tendency within cinema scholarship to elevate the traditional public theatre as the best way to watch a film. My research instead, explores alternative platforms and the way these new viewing spaces may be changing the way we cognitively and affectively engage with narratives on screen. I utilise Edward T Hall’s theory of Proxemics, to examine the importance of spatial context in film cognition, and propose a new model of analysis in which we can investigate and compare ‘public’, ’social’, and ‘intimate’ cinema spaces simultaneously. We know all about the ‘magic’ of the traditional public movie theatre, but what about new cocoon-like ‘intimate cinemas’ offered by personal digital devices – how are these spaces unique, and how do they constitute the viewing experience? As a case study, I have mapped these changes in viewing spaces and genre aesthetics in queer cinema. More specifically, I have examined contemporary youth-oriented screen texts and the way these texts, when viewed in the new ‘intimate cinema’ may be drastically altering queer youth identity development narratives and wider queer politics. Compared to other demographics, these new ‘intimate cinema’ spaces offer something vital for queer youth; a safe, private space of escape – in which they can freely engage with affirmative queer stories.

Reframe: Considering Screens to Reconfigure Postmedia

by Charu Maithani


This podcast is of a seminar presented by Charu Maithani at UNSW Australia for SSSN on 29th August 2017. Charu’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Melanie Robson and involving the audience present on the day.

Charu Maithani is a Ph.D. student at UNSW Art & Design. Her recent publications include “Searching for Subjectivities in Video installations of Amar Kanwar” in ARTisON journal and “Error / Glitch / Noise: Observations on Aesthetic Forms of Failure” in Information (2016, ed. Sarah Cook, Whitechapel Gallery / MIT Press). Her ongoing project is a web based platform for experimental moving image practices and browser-based net art from India.

Since the widespread uptake of digital media from the late 1990s onwards, the screen has not only been used to view images but also to create them, enabling new gestures, behaviours and experiences previously unfamiliar to us. In this way, the screen has come to take on additional functions in the postmedia age. It has also become a category that connects different media rather than a medium or a platform. This paper asks, can screens be studied as a new way to reconfigure postmedia? Postmedia revised the traditional media, adding new methods for the production and reception of art. In the convergence of media and digital technologies, postmedia also lacks heuristic value. With their materiality, historic lineage, and pervasive property, screens can be a potential initiator to the reconfiguration of postmedia. This paper will analyse the legacy of screens from media to postmedia through two main areas, frame and materiality, in order to establish the inter-medial abilities of the contemporary screen. This will be done by reviewing methods of image production and display in the practices of artists, filmmakers, and visual technologists that present instances of the screen’s key role in the reorganisation of certain relations – that is between viewers, producers, and interactants – in the postmedia condition.

Gendered Vulnerability in Transnational Action Cinema: xXx, The Great Wall, and Kung Fu Yoga

This podcast is of a seminar presented by Timothy Laurie at the University of Technology Sydney for SSSN on 15th August 2017. Tim’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Prof. Meaghan Morris and involving the audience present on the day.

Timothy Laurie teaches global cinema in the School of Communication at the University of Technology Sydney. His main research interest is cultural identity and gender in popular culture, with a focus on music and film. He is currently co-authoring Masculinity After Deleuze (with Anna Hickey-Moody) for Bloomsbury.

Professor Meaghan Morris is from the University of Sydney. Professor Morris is a figure of world stature in the field of Cultural Studies. She is Chair of the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society and past Chair of the international Association for Cultural Studies (ACS), 2004-08. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities, and a former ARC Senior Fellow, from 2000-2012 she was founding Chair Professor of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.

Transnational co-productions have become an increasingly favoured model to ensure wide distribution for high-budget films across multiple markets, with many contemporary action films oriented toward the United States, China, and India. Transnational financing in Chinese cinema has created new professional trajectories for action cinema stars such as Daniel Wu (USA/Hong Kong), Donnie Yen (Hong Kong) and Tony Jaa (Thailand). Correspondingly, narrative archetypes around travelling warriors have been reworked to accommodate the co-existence of stars from multiple national cinemas. This paper examines the gendered aspects of these transnational narratives, focusing on the masculinisation of travel as a crucial component of the geographical imaginaries produced by action blockbusters. It takes as its key examples D. J. Caruso’s xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017), featuring a rambling team of North American, Thai, Australian and Hong Kong-based action stars; Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall (aka Cháng Chéng, 2016), which includes a North American protagonist leading Chinese soldiers in their defence along the Great Wall; and Stanley Tong’s Kung Fu Yoga (2017), a Chinese-Indian co-production that allows Jackie Chan to resurrect his familiar relic-hunter role from The Armour of God (Chan and Tsang, 1986). The paper argues that contrasts between masculine protagonists are frequently used to signal deep cultural differences, but that they can also expose masculine heroes to new kinds of vulnerabilities in more subtle cross-cultural encounters.