Mediacinema

Mediacinema CLASSES

Film classes

This page include a partial list of film classes previously taught by Alex Pirolini at various institutions of higher education. Scroll down to view the list of recurring classes.
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Spring 2013 | A Berliner in Hollywood: The Cinema of Ernst Lubitsch. Hailed by Truffaut as a "prince," labeled "director of doors" by Mary Pickford, Ernst Lubitsch made over 70 films (26 of them in Hollywood alone). He made Greta Garbo famously laugh in Ninotchka, placed Marlene Dietrich in front of and behind many doors in Angel, and made Herbert Marshall, Miriam Hopkins, Maurice Chevalier, and Jeanette MacDonald sing, play, and fall in love in several comedies and "operetta-films." This course examines 7 of Lubitsch's quintessential films and explores that unique narrative style made up of hints, clues, and suggestions that managed to creatively circumvent the restraints of the Production Code. The goal is to make the course participants rediscover the sheer joy and the sophisticated touch behind the work of a true master of American cinema.
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UCLA - Spring 2013 | (IN)visible Connections: Literature, Film, and Music in light of talo Calvino's Memos for the New Millennium. This course analyzes thematic and aesthetic links between works of several writers and artists across different time periods and art forms. It focuses on the memos that Italian writer Italo Calvino prepared in the summer of 1985 for a series of lectures that he was supposed to deliver at Harvard University. The values that Calvino ascribes to literature (Lightness, Quickness, Multiplicity, Exactitude, Visibility, and Constancy) are analyzed, discussed, and expanded through examples that range from the poems of Giacomo Leopardi and Giovanni Pascoli to the narratives of Luigi Pirandello, Italo Calvino, and comparisons with the works of Giacomo Puccini, Claude Debussy, Walt Disney, and many others.
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UCLA - Fall 2012 | Stallions, mobsters, virgins, and snookies: Italian gender between stereotype and transgression in Italian and American cinema. This course analyzes the portrayal of Italians in Italian and American cinema with particular attention to issues of sex, ethnicity and gender. The primary goal is to foster a sense of how cinema and television can manufacture, reinforce or transgress gender stereotypes. The course will consist in a detailed, close reading of nine films and their portrayal of masculinity and femininity, contextualized by accompanying reading assignments on Italian history and politics, sociology, psychology, and film theory. Students will examine various approaches to the study of films including (but not limited to) film studies, feminist film theory, narratology, and cultural studies.
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Fall 2012, Fall 2011, Winter 2011 | "Dedicated to International cinema, our popular cinema series features an eclectic selection of movies by Japanese, Spanish, British, Italian, and French directors, including some rare and digitally restored screenings. Every class begins with a presentation that places the film in its historical and cinematic context, followed by a screening in foreign language with English subtitles." (Description from the Osher Catalogue)
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Summer 2012 | In the mind of contemporary moviegoers, silent cinema is often associated with colorless and faded images, primitive narratives, and exaggerated acting performances. However, as The Artist has reminded us, many silent movies of the late 1920s consisted of rather complex and well-written tales that relied on sophisticated shooting, lighting, and editing techniques. The results were so astonishing that many critics and filmmakers greeted the arrival of sound cinema as the death of an art form that had flourished for almost three decades. The art of translating verbal storytelling into compelling visual narratives, however, did not perish in the 1930s; it was adapted by great directors such as Ernst Lubitsch, Ingmar Bergman, Luchino Visconti, or Fritz Lang and employed alongside sound design and dialogue in countless masterpieces (in one of his last interviews, Alfred Hitchcock even suggested that "young filmmakers who venture in this business should first go through a course of silent cinema!") This class focuses primarily on such ideas and includes a series of sound and silent movies carefully selected for their achievements in terms of visual storytelling. The films screened range from Lloyd's silent masterpieces (Safety First or Speedy) to Chaplin's first sound movies (City Lights or Modern Times), from Ernst Lubitsch's visual adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan to Jacques Tati's silent tales of the sounds of modernity, and Pixar Studio's poetic animated shorts.
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Spring 2012 | This course is based on the idea of cinema and television as an essentially “audiovisual” art form, in which the sensory elements of music, sound, and images are considered powerful forms of communication, together with words and dialogues. Conducted in the manner of a seminar, with screenings and lively analyses of movies and TV shows, this course focuses on the way audiovisual storytelling techniques can be employed for suspense, dramatic, and comic effects. This way, students learn what constitutes a good film through the study of image composition, sound, and editing, and their narrative combination.
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Antioch University - Summer 2011, 2010, 2009 | This course introduces students to different gender, racial, sexual, and cultural images in American and international
cinema through the examination of representative films and filmmakers. It examines the evolution of gender and sexual stereotypes in film and contrasts those images with efforts by filmmakers to challenge such stereotypes and more accurately portray diversity in cinema. The course focuses particularly on movies which reveal origins and explanations of women's places in cultures and societies.
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Spring 2011 | This course is an examination of the work of Hollywood director and screenwriter Preston Sturges. It argues that, even if his movies and screenplays are historically situated in the context of Classical Hollywood Cinema, defined as a system of production and aesthetic norms, they also anticipate the work of a whole generation of modern filmmakers (from Mel Brooks to Woody Allen, from Steven Spielberg to the Coen brothers) who, several decades later, would deconstruct the Classical Hollywood Cinema and its conventions.
By analyzing movies, screenplays, film and TV projects, this course intends to demonstrate how Sturges deconstructed the rules of classical cinema and television through pastiche, non-chronological storytelling, and hypothetical narratives. The goal of this course is to present the work of Preston Sturges in a new perspective, and to reposition his reputation as something in between a classic director and a postmodern one—that is, as an artist who both contributed to the creation and definition of the Classical Hollywood Cinema and its genres and at the same time played with its rules and definitions.
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Fall 2010 | British cinema has had a large impact on world cinema both because of the so called "golden age" of the 1940s, characterized by the movies of directors such as Michael Powell and Emeril Pressburger, and because of a broad group of directors (Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, Laurence Olivier) and actors (Vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn, John Gielgud, Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins) who became popular in Hollywood and with the American audience. The British Cinema series intends to analyze a wide and eclectic spectrum of different cinematic sensibilities and genres, ranging from comedies to horror movies, from melodramas to documentaries and auteurfilms, in order to underscore the rich and varied contribute of one of the most interesting national cinemas in the world.
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Spring 2010 | Back by popular demand, a new series of screening dedicated to Italian cinema! From De Sica's satires of the economic "boom" to Visconti's decadent views of the Italian society, from Fellini's and Tornatore's nostalgic memoirs to Pasolini's cinema of poetry, this course provides an overview of Italian cinema, history, and culture from the 1930s until today. The course includes 7 Italian movies representative of specific periods, directors, or genres. Every meeting includes the screening of a film in Italian language with English subtitles and an introduction placing the film in its historical and sociopolitical context. 
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Winter 2010 | Because of its long association with the politique des auteurs, French cinema has always been regarded as Hollywood's "serious" counterpart. As a consequence, directors, such as Truffaut and Godard, have come to epitomize both classic French cinema as well as a challenge to traditional American cinematic spectacle. This course tries to explain (and debunk) these myths by focusing on the unique features of the cinema des auteurs (Renoir, Truffaut, Godard, Tati) as well as the more unusual and rarely discussed excursions into the realm of American cinema (Clair's The Flame of New Orleans) and literature (Clement's adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley). Every class includes one screening (in French with English subtitles) with discussion of the film's historical and cinematic context. Screenings include Renoir's La Règle du jeu (1939), Clair's The Flame of New Orleans (1941), Tati's Mon Oncle (1958), Clement's Plein Soleil (1960), Godard's Pierrot le fou (1965), Truffaut's L'histoire d'Adèle H. (1975), and Leconte's La fille sur le pont (1999).
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Fall 2009 | From Visconti's Bellissima, a post-war satire of the Italian film industry and the illusions it fosters, to the Academy Award winning tragicomedy Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni, this course provides an overview of Italian cinema, history, and culture from the 1950s until today. The course includes 6 Italian movies representative of a specific decade and genre. Every meeting includes the screening of a film in Italian language with English subtitles and an introduction placing the film in its historical and sociopolitical context.
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Spring 2009 | Fragmented Cinema: An Introduction to the Work of Orson Welles. Now regarded as one of the most important artists in the history of motion pictures, actor, screenwriter, director, and producer Orson Welles was rarely able to enjoy complete creative freedom and control over his work, after his directorial debut Citizen Kane. As a result, his filmography counts a long list of movies that were recut, manipulated, and transformed by nearsighted producers, as well as a series of incomplete projects and films that Welles wrote, shot, and re-edited on portable flatbeds all of his life (Don Quixote, The Merchant of Venice and The Other Side of the Wind). 
This class focuses on some of Welles' least known works for cinema and television, and it analyzes narrative and cinematic techniques from the movies that made of Orson Welles one of the most influential directors in world cinema. 
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The Osher Institute at UCLA - Summer 2008 | In his study dedicated to Bertolt Brecht in America, James K. Lyon comments on the spectacular migration of art, culture and intellect from Central Europe to America during the Hitler era, remarking that "not since the influx of scholars into Western Europe after the fall  
of Constantinople in 1453 had the world seen such an enormous and sudden enrichment of one culture at the expense of another." Hollywood, in fact, was created from nothing by European and Russian Jewish immigrants (William Fox, Samuel Goldwyn, Marcus Loew, Adolph Zukor) and it quickly became one of the most representative temples of the American Dream thanks to the work of hundreds of directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, and actors that imported in the 1920s and the 1930s from Central Europe. The course intends to explore the  
invaluable contribute of artists such as Eric von Stroheim, Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, or Robert Siodmak, Douglas Sirk, Otto Preminger to the American cinema, through a series of multimedia lectures including selected video and audio clips, the analysis of songs and literary texts, and the screening of films.

Recurring classes

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AVC - Taught semiannually | This course introduces students to different gender, racial, sexual, and cultural images in American and international cinema through the examination of representative films and filmmakers.
It examines the evolution of cultural, racial, and sexual stereotypes in film and contrasts those images with efforts by filmmakers to challenge such stereotypes and more accurately portray diversity in cinema.
The course focuses particularly on movies which reveal origins and explanations of women's places in cultures and societies.
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UCLA Extension - Taught semiannually | Designed for filmmakers who need to develop the necessary skills to make better films and viewers who want to better understand and appreciate the complexity of the cinematic text, this course outlines the many components of film language used by great directors to tell their stories in the most effective way. Through a wide selection of multimedia material including film and sound clips, pictures, articles, and interviews, students analyze shooting and editing techniques employed by the greatest filmmakers of all times. Topics range from functional usage of image composition and lighting to camera movements, editing, and sound. The purpose of this course is to give clarity to the filmmaking process and to enhance the enjoyment of film viewing.
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AVC - Taught semiannually | This course will introduce students to one of the most powerful cultural and social communications media of our time: cinema. The successful student will become more aware of the complexity of cinematic language, more sensitive to its narrative structure, and more perceptive in “reading” its multilayered blend of image, sound, and motion. The emphasis will be upon understanding the use of design, cinematography, editing and sound as elements of style.
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UCLA Extension - Taught annually | This course focuses on the creative usage of the many components of film language and their narrative application in classic and contemporary films and TV series. Through a wide selection of multimedia material including hundreds of film and sound clips, articles, interviews with directors, screenwriters, and directors of photography, students will be presented with a wide range of creative examples of frame composition, mise-en-scè€ne, lighting, editing, and sound, from classical, contemporary, and silent movies. Hands-on analyses of movies will focus on Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, Alfred HItchcock’s Rear Window, Patrice Leconte’s Girl on the Bridge, Jaco van Dormael’s Mr. Nobody, and episodes from tv series such as The Newsroom, Life on Mars, The West Wing, and United States of Tara. Particular attention will be given to narrative techniques such as subjectivity, focalization, reticence, indirect storytelling, and their historical evolution. The final goal is to provide a unique opportunity for understanding the principles behind the creative choices that make directors and screenwriters active audiovisual storytellers.
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AVC - Taught annually | This course will introduce students to one of the most powerful cultural and social communications media of our time: cinema. The successful student will become more aware of the complexity of cinematic language, more sensitive to its narrative structure, and more perceptive in “reading” its multilayered blend of image, sound, and narrative. The emphasis will be upon understanding the narrative usage of production design, cinematography, editing, sound, and their stylistic implications. Please note that Film Studies are part of a very rigorous academic field. As such, you will be expected to learn terms, read essays, and analyze films carefully, as you would in any college course (in other terms, if you signed up for the class because you think it may be an easy “C,” you may want to reconsider). Since this is an area of study completely new to most people, I strongly recommend that you make a point to learn the terms that are new to you. Memorizing the terminology will help you better understand the concepts later on.