Cinematic Templates

Felix Simon (University of Oxford)
Vinzenz Hediger (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Supercut Politics: Movie Trailers as Templates for Political Advertising
Anupama Surendranath (Indian Institute of Technology Bombay)
Embodied Engagements: Notes on Youth and Womanhood in Malayalam Cinema

Cinematic processes have always structured perceptions outside of the classical cinematic dispositif. Audiovisual handouts and manuals describing the application of products, advertising trailers for political campaigns, as well as advertising marketing products and entire lifestyles, amongst many other things, are co-constituted by the desire expressed in, with, and through film. In this way, the filmic techniques and practices used for the production of these visual materials take part in directing attention and shaping emotions, and can, following Eva Illouz’s perspective on consumer economy, be understood as prefabricated templates, which, in their re-application, enable and simplify access to knowledge, but might also hinder access and narrow down what can be known. Participants of the panel “Cinematic Templates” considered and discussed cinematographic material order to shed light on how and to what extent film-related patterns as well as the standardized cinematic forms and formats are re-applied and used in contexts and discourses outside of cinema. How can one address film as a templating technique through which knowledge production, distribution, and management are regularly set in motion? Which patterns advertising trailers and Malayalam Cinema provide for understanding tacit cinematic knowledge?

Supercut Politics: Movie Trailers as Templates for Political Advertising

Politics as the struggle for power in the United States often plays out as a competition of narratives: The candidate with the better story wins. Addressing the current debate about politics as culture and the growing political salience of cultural objects, this paper argues that increasingly, political narratives and particularly campaign narratives circulate in short films that emulate the form of the movie trailer. After the so-called narrative turn in film advertising, the movie trailer has become one of the most effective and most culturally salient forms or storytelling. At the same time, because of its formal salience and relatively short duration, the trailer is particularly suitable for sharing and dissemination to large audiences via digital media, making it an ideal vehicle for modern political communication. Distinguishing between narrative and template, we argue that the trailer offers a template for highly condensed political narratives that fit into pre-existing patterns of communication, thus highlighting the audience’s tacit knowledge of the decisive role aesthetic templates in film and media culture play in politics.

Felix M. Simon is a Leverhulme Doctoral Scholar at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and a research assistant at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) at the University of Oxford. His research broadly focuses on AI in the news, political communication in the digital age, and the changing nature of the media in the 21st century.

Vinzenz Hediger is Professor of Cinema Studies at the Goethe University, Frankfurt and the Director of the Graduiertenkolleg “Configurations of Film.” He is a co-founder of NECS – European Network for Cinema and Media Studies and the founding editor of the Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft. He is a principal investigator at the Cluster of Excellence “Normative Orders” and a member of the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz.

Embodied Engagements: Notes on Youth and Womanhood in Malayalam Cinema

This paper is an attempt to discuss the ways in which young women inhabit the space of Malayalam cinema, the regional cinema of the Indian state Kerala. In this attempt, I extend the discussion on films from “viewing” and “identifying with characters” to the affective and embodied dimensions of film viewing and try to engage with other consumer practices associated with cinema. The interest of this paper is to look at the construction and consumption of sensibilities of youth and womanhood, taking cinema as an important site.

Anupama Surendranath is a PhD research scholar in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. Her research interests are film studies and cultural studies.