Documentary Ethics and Trans Activism in the Philippines (with Curran Nault)

In this week’s episode, guest Curran Nault discusses his article “Documenting the Dead: Call Her Ganda and the Trans Activist Afterlife of Jennifer Laude,” which analyzes the production and circulation of the documentary that Nault co-produced about the murder of transpinay Jennifer Laude by a US marine. Informed by his roles as both producer and media scholar, Nault raises critical questions about the aesthetics and ethics of re-presenting trans death and, ultimately, reflects on the possibilities and limitations of documentary as a trans activist tool.

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Brown Girls, White Feminism, and the Necropolitics of War (with Moon Charania)

In this week’s episode, guest Moon Charania discusses her article “Ethical Whiteness and the Death Drive: White Women as the New War Hero,” which examines how contemporary films use white women protagonists to justify drone warfare and military intervention in the Middle East. Charania argues that media mobilize the figure of the suffering brown girl to elicit empathy and to assuage Western audiences’ guilt about collateral damage in neo-colonial wars. Through what Charania calls “ethical whiteness”, Global North citizens can promote humanitarian causes to rescue Global South brown girls from numerous atrocities without interrogating how their own governments are responsible for creating the conditions for such atrocities.

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The End of the American Media Empires (with Michael Curtin)

In this week’s episode, guest Michael Curtin discusses his article “Post Americana: Twenty-First Century Media Globalization” a wide-reaching examination of the political and social forces that shaped the United States’ dominance in global media during the 20th century. Curtin argues that, after nearly a century of American hegemony, media industries are today growing more plastic and complicated, scaling their ambitions and operations in an increasingly dynamic environment filled with new technologies, shifting audiences, and emerging economies.

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Zombies in Cuba (with Bianka Ballina)

In this week’s episode, guest Bianka Ballina discusses her article Juan of the Dead: Anxious Consumption and Zombie Cinema in Cuba,” which analyzes the complex material and ideological transformations in Cuban film over the past two decades. Ballina argues that Alejandro Brugués’s film Juan de los muertos offers an opportunity to explore the circulation of anxieties around global consumption within the island. While the film contributes to the continued reformulation of Cuban and genre cinemas, it also reproduces conservative ideologies about race, gender, and sexuality in Cuba.

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How to Translate a Genre (with Michelle Cho)

In this week’s episode, guest Michelle Cho discusses her article “Genre, Translation, and Transnational Cinema” which analyzes Kim Jee-woon’s Korean western film The Good, the Bad, the Weird as emblematic of both the transnational adaptation of popular genres and the international rise of South Korean cinema in the early 21st century. Cho proposes a theory of genre translation that does not require audiences to know all textual references in a film and that accounts for the embodied pleasures and therapeutic sensations of globally popular genres, such as westerns.

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Indigenous Cinema in North America (with Karrmen Crey)

In this week’s episode, guest Karrmen Crey discusses her article “Screen Text and Institutional Context: Indigenous Film Production and Academic Research Institutions” which analyzes post-secondary institutions and the intellectual traditions that shape how Indigenous filmmakers engage the politics and ethics of representation. By comparing two documentaries by Indigenous women, Navajo Talking Picture (Arlene Bowman 1986) and Cry Rock (Banchi Hanuse 2010), Crey argues that we must consider how Indigenous artists contend with sources of funding and formal tropes enmeshed in Western traditions when attempting to tell Indigenous stories in visual media.

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