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 than 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.