Movie still from "Fire" (1996), directed by Deepa Mehta

Postcolonial Cinema

Instructor: Anthony Alessandrini
308 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Since the beginning of formal, political decolonization, cinema has been a key ground for emerging postcolonial identities and the struggle for decolonization . Working with technologies, techniques, and even sometimes idioms developed across the broadly “Western” world — from initial experiments in France to the experimental avant-garde in the Soviet Union to the blossoming of Hollywood in the United States — filmmakers from the postcolonial world have helped articulate nascent anti- and post-colonial identities through the contested terrain of film. Alongside novelists in fiction, political figures on the national stage, and theorists in scholarly analysis, filmmakers have worked in the realm of sight and sound, finding an artistic home within a medium that has itself been a central site of colonial imaginations. How has cinema so frequently found itself as a pivotal mode of expression for postcolonial imaginations?  

In Postcolonial Cinema, students will examine and discuss four films: Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers; Ousmane Sembene’s Xala; Deepa Mehta’s Fire; and Elia Suleiman’s The Time that Remains. In addition, as aids to seeing and understanding, we’ll read criticisms and essays by Frantz Fanon, Frederic Jameson, Sohail Dalatzai, Mahmoud Darwish, Gayatri Gopinath, Laura Mulvey, Vijay Mishra, Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Ella Shohat. We’ll ask: how do the filmmakers contend with traditionally Western tropes and and utilize the languages and logics of film to create distinctly postcolonial art (if, indeed, such a form is possible)? How are colonialism, violence, and postcolonial politics and movements represented and critiqued? How is identity, including feminist and queer identity, established? Is film an active or retrospective technique of anti-colonial resistance? And, in a question of perhaps personal significance for students in a New York City classroom: What is the impact of postcolonial film on Hollywood work and Western ways of seeing and thinking?

Course Schedule

Sunday, 1 - 4pm
October 22 — November 19, 2017
4 sessions over 5 weeks.


Registration Open

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