Thursday, February 09, 2023

No further institutionalization

Mapping of a Medium in Decline

Types of Cinephilia

10 Troll Cinephilia

Obscurantist-topical. Again, I do not know much about it, a weird bunch and often borderline incomprehensible lingo. Can encompass all types of film but mostly centered around Hollywood blockbusters, horror and a few choice name auteurs. Big subtype centered around anime. Polemical in nature, though polemics mostly not of "our cinema vs their cinema" type. Focused on idpol / culture wars topics instead. Shading off into generalized fandom of the youtube kind.

Strictly social media centered, no further institutionalization existing or to be expected.

Mostly enthusiasts and bots, maybe a few frustrated film studies majors, too. Only type with major right-wing (especially alt-right) participation. Biggest cluster probably still tankie left.

Roots in stoner humor tradition, student papers etc.

Not much writing in the stict sense of the word. Shitposting and memes and social media wars. Films / aesthetics weaponized as talking points, no further consideration especially of contextual factors. Some level of originality present though most of it getting lost in noise.

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Non-intuitive embrace

Mapping of a Medium in Decline

Types of Cinephilia

9 Vulgar Auteurism Cinephilia (minor type)

Auteurist-genre-centered. Discourse limited to a small number of euvres related to American post New Hollywood action filmmaking. Links to more expansive canon and wider aesthetic concerns are acknowledged yet seldomly followed up on. "Our cinema vs their cinema" is important although scope and identity of "their cinema" are subject to change. Clear preference for formalism if of limited scope, often expressed as fetishization of craft.

Never had much institutional backing. Might not even exist anymore outside of more localized auteurist fandoms. Rise and fall probably related to early social media adaptation.

Mostly enthusiasts, with some (including biographical) spill-over into academia and maybe film schools. No clear political alignment. Rejection of some leftist orthodoxies, yet most practitioners empirically still solidly left-wing.

Roots in classic auteurism/MacMahonism and also in tech-centered fandom.

Writing free-form, sometimes borderline experimental. Biggest limiting factor is scope of discourse, another one buying into one's own bullshit regarding self-produced orthodoxies. Best when combining analytic approach with phenomenological pov in non-intuitive embrace of cinematic surface pleasures. One of few types able to sometimes move beyond reality principle.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Natural outgrowth

Mapping of a Medium in Decline

Types of Cinephilia

8 Festival Jetset Cinephilia (minor type)

Auteurist-topical. Centered almost exclusively around new releases by name auteurs or emerging arthaus trends. Fixation on most recent releases, no interest in film history beyond a generalized affirmation of the canon, with a few reservation about inclusivity mixed in in recent years. General preference for realism and alignment of form and content, which also includes shocking content presented shockingly. Disinterested in yet moderately tolerant of formalism. Rejection of mainstream important for self-image, yet almost every mainstream formula can be integrated into own agenda almost without modifications.

Natural outgrowth of institutional cinephilia, especially festival scene. Would not exist without institutions, has to exist because institutions continue to exist. Some shading off into extra-institutional space of generalized arthouse audiences, yet those for the most part do not share the same lingo. preferences etc.

Mostly journalists, festival programmers and similar types. Some enthusiasts participate on the margins.

Roots mainly in mainstream cultural journalism. No fixed political alignment aside from leftist liberal proclivity of cultural scene.

Writing tends to rely heavily on platitudes and received wisdom. For the most part seen as an afterthought and possibility for brand building - see manic text production during festivals vs not much follow-up afterwards. Some good matter-of-fact-criticism still exists, especially in trades.

Friday, February 03, 2023

Remnants may remain

Mapping of a Medium in Decline

Types of Cinephilia

7 Avant-garde Cinephilia

Elitist-obscurantist, some auteurism of the hero worship kind present. Don't know much about them, a weird bunch. Self-selecting scene centered around self-selecting body of work. Centered around set of aesthetic choices, yet no fixed aesthetic canon. Opposition to narrative cinema and "middle" realism important anchors, yet even those might not always hold. Probably mostly defined by culture / self-image rather than aesthetic preferences. "Our cinema vs their cinema" basis of discourse, yet almost no interest in the particularities of "their cinema" beyond the broadest of generalizations.

Partly self-sufficient, yet also existing at periphery of larger institutions. No interest in moving to the center, tendency towards self-isolation.

Mostly practitioners, enthusiasts and a few academics. Political alignment might differ along sub-types, though mostly to the left, often hard-left.

Roots in 60s/70s sub-culture / radical politics mostly cut, yet remnants may remain, especially in sub-types focusing on identity politics issues.

Writing tends to be free-form and hermetic. Often somewhat gossip-centered, too, which mostly is a plus. Best when influenced by phenomenological traditions, worst when falling prey to its own messianic tendencies. Only type interested in film as material object. Not really welcoming to newcomers / visiting outsiders.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Alignment does matter

Mapping of a Medium in Decline

Types of Cinephilia

6 Cinephage Cinephilia

Obscurantist-auteurist leaning, yet open to any approach. Refusal to pre-order cinema according to other than highly personal criteria. Main goal generalized knowledge of everything about cinema, implicit bias for periphery rather than center. Often subscribes to "Maverick" narratives, yet "individual expression" just one entryway into films among many. Context (mode of production, sociological) often takes center stage. Cinephilia itself as a practice of mapping. Polemical edge targeting middlebrow favorites present though not a main objective.


Exists at the periphery of institutions. Can neither move towards the center nor disentangle completely, because dependend on (yet also providing) resources.

Olaf Möller probably only true practitioner. Less radical examples (this is a mapping of types of cinephilia, not of cinephiles) among enthusiasts, journalists and academia. Political alignment does matter and is probably almost always to the left.

Grew out of rats of the cinematheque type of cinephilia.

Writing tends to be free-form and individualistic. Strength: multi-directional approach, surprising insights from off-beat angles. Limiations: Sometimes tendency to get "lost in context", not necessarily all that interested in inner workings of formalist aesthetics.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Afterthoughts at best

Mapping of a Medium in Decline

Types of Cinephilia

5 Radical Cinephilia

Elitist-activist. Mostly mode-of-production-centered, increasingly suspicious about formalism. Film considered as vessel for and actor in radical politics. Canons of both political issues and films considered as relevant more expansive yet also more specialized than in the case of Social Justice Cinephilia. Political canon mostly boils down to center vs periphery issues and identity politics. "Our cinema vs. their cinema" still main motivational factor, though "their cinema" is more often ignored rather than truly engaged with. Conformity with established rhetorics of radicalism and academic buzzwords de facto acts as gatekeeper, so movements outside of its scope like Nollywood are afterthoughts at best.

Most critical of institutions yet most dependend on them. Institutionalized mostly in academics but making inroads into cinematheques, archives etc. Probably this type's biggest blind spot / paradoxy: depends on self-description as periphery / fringe / subject to suppression, yet in reality already a dominant mode at least in academia. Very good at institutional and discoursive power play.

Almost exclusively academics, almost exclusively hard-left.

Heir of 1970s hard-left cinephilia, Screen theory school etc. A more interesting wing of non-academic radicals centered around worship of euvre's like Straub's did exist and still does in diminished form.


Writing at its best centering on historiography in fields Film History Nerd Cinephilia would not touch, including works branching out into other arts, at its worst trenched in jargon and citations of ever-same intellectual heroes, approaching automated writing. Some intellectual curiosity present, yet always channeled in similar ways.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Often fearful

 Mapping of a Medium in Decline

Types of Cinephilia

4 Film History Nerd Cinephilia

Auteurist-genre-centered (older generation), genre-mode-of-production-centered (younger generation). Used to be the default mode of any serious engagement with moving images, "film history" as prime term of reference, subscribes to the notion of a fixed canon + various extensions. Was always more interested in production and cultural context than auteurist-modernist types, more recent practitioners distance themselves even further from primacy of individual impression. Identification with cinema as a whole, not parts of it. Center vs periphery bias often, yet not always implicit.

Still dominant in most cinematheques and similar insitutions of a more traditional type. Discourse not necessarily tied to institutions. The more populist wing used to be self-sufficient (see commercial players like Criterion Collection, TCM etc), probably increasingly less so.

Used to be mostly enthusiasts and journalists, now mostly academics and a few choice enthusiasts. Some anti-woke sentiment present, especially in older generation, yet mostly bubbling under the surface. General political alignment same as mainstream academia (liberal, left).

Heir of classic auteurism and generalized film enthusiasm of the rats of the cinematheque type.

Source of the majority of worthy historiography and probably scholarly literature in general in the field. Writing mostly integrated in conventions of contemporary academia, yet less annoyingly so as in some quarters (see: Radical Cinephilia). Often fearful of intellectual and stylistic experiments of any kind. Mostly adverse to the kind of polemics classic auteurists cultivated.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Greater degree of autonomy

 Mapping of a Medium in Decline

Types of Cinephilia

3 Movie Nerd Cinephilia

Genre-nostalgic. Mostly interested in horror, action, exploitation, science fiction and popular classics / popular non-classics from teenage years. Only a few choice auteurs are canonized, though these are celebrated almost religiously. Primary attachement is to genre tropes, actors / actresses, "tone". Often more interested in form than they themselve would admit, though concept of form usually boils down to "well-made narrative cinema". Films outside of scope of inquiry are ignored rather than hated.

Probably still biggest type in numbers and only type that can exist self-sufficiently up to a point (maybe that point has passed by now). tide to a specific material stage of film culture: video stores, conventions, fanzines, blogs. Not interested in spreading out into other kinds of institutions. Will die out with Gen X and physical media.


Mostly enthusiasts, with very little spill-over into journalism and academia. Anti-woke sentiment present here and there, but general political alignment either non-existent or leftish.


Grew out of traditional fandom, star worship etc. Distinguished by greater degree of autonomy vis a vis industry forces and cross-over with non-film subcultures (Punk, Metal, Goth).


Writing tends to be non-conformist in terms of form / publishing and conformist in terms of aesthetic preference and intellectual curiosity, though there are many exceptions when it comes to the latter. Problems: "Discussions" tend to get stuck in unproductive (feedback) loops, gatekeeper with dull taste keep out interesting voices. Advantages: Lack of formal control means tolerance of weirdo fringe that reliably produces the best writing. Also highly supportive of individual obsessions which sometimes leads to amazing work in historiography.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Not content

Mapping of a Medium in Decline


Types of Cinephilia


2 Social Justice Cinephilia

Auteurist-modernist, emphasis on form as an expression of ethical / social issues. "Mere" formalism is dubious, though. Individual artistry and individual expression is key to the point of outright hero worship (much more so than in Cinema Scope Cinephilia) but only when coupled with canon of ethical / social issues. Artistic creation only conceivable as reactive, in relation to a dominant model. Every single female filmmaker ever is "unduly forgotten". Opposition to mainstream less important than opposition to "film bro cinema" and similar straw men. A more populist wing celebrates diversity in Marvel films.


Critical of institutions yet dependent on them. Usually more successful than Cinema Scope Cinephilia in conquering them. Not content with "a place at the table".

Mostly journalists and social media users. Some spill-over into academia. Biggest cluster emphatically aligned with the left, though there's a smaller, less influential (and even more polemical) counterpart on the right.

Mostly an off-shoot of older auteurist-modernist traditions as opposed to "radical" traditions (Screen theory etc).


In its purest form ideology speaking itself, therefore extremely dull. See twitter and parts of letterboxd. More interesting when used as a tool among others, though the amount of conceptual blind spots remains staggering. Can serve as welcome reality check for bad "free-form" writing. Propensity for polemics might even be a plus sometimes, because it triggers open-ended inquiries.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Truest heir

Mapping of a Medium in Decline


Types of Cinephilia


1 Cinema Scope Cinephilia


Auteurist-modernist, emphasis on form, subscription to an avant-garde canon, concept of director as artist and primacy of individual expression. Primary identification is with a certain type of cinema. Clear opposition to "mainstream" and certain derivatives, especially perceived "elevated mainstream". Focus on "our cinema" vs "their cinema", though "our cinema" part is more important than "vs." part. Not overtly polemical for the most part.

Reformist, takes part in institutions, although mostly on the fringes: small festivals, sidebars of big festivals, less visible magazines etc. Cheering for Weerasethatkul wins at Cannes etc.

Mostly journalists and enthusiasts. Big on film twitter. Political alignment not important for self-image, though mostly left / left-liberal.

Truest heir of 60s art cinema scene / discourse.

Attracts both good writers and bad writers. Problems: importance of (correct) taste as an easy in, basic lingo easy to master, therefore not much quality control. Advantages: insistence on judging each work on its own merits, room and tolerance for experiments and for young writers, for the most part healthy distance from academic writing.