It gives me great pleasure to announce the roll-out of the first titles in a video-on-demand collection being developed by staff of the Media Resources Center in collaboration with the Library Systems Office. These full-length documentary works have been licensed from various distributors and digitized by the Media Center. They are accessible to anyone with a current CalNet ID, either on campus or off. The videos require that you have the Windows Media player installed on your machine. Macintosh users can download the free Flip4Mac plug-in to view these (works best with the latest version of QuickTime).
Six of the videos in this group were licensed with funds obtained through a grant jointly developed by Victoria Robinson (Coordinator of the American Cultures Center) and Gary Handman, Head of the library's Media Resources Center. The titles will be assigned as required viewing in Victoria's large American Cultures and Ethnic Studies courses.
A complete listing of films digitized to date is posted at: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/vodcollection.html
MRC staff are also in the process of streaming historical lectures and events filmed at UCB, these may be found at: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/audiofiles.html These latter films do not require UC identification to view.
In the coming semesters, staff in the Media Center hope to work with faculty across disciplines to identify other videos which might be included in this online collection. We are particularly looking for titles that would be useful for larger classes or those that are typically used by several classes in the course of a semester. Videos included in this collection will depend on the availability of digital rights licenses (theatrical movies will largely be excluded from the collection) and on the budget and staff considerations.
Gary Handman, Director, MRC
G. Ulmer: The Man Off-screen (DVD 6455)
Long before I knew or cared about the difference between ?A? movies and ?B? movies, and year?s before I paid any attention at all to the name above the movie title, I fell in love with Edgar G. Ulmer. As a kid, all I knew was that Ulmer?s 1934 Black Cat knocked my movie-watching socks off with its creepy shadows and macabre tale of torture, and that his 1945 Detour made me want to search out similar walks on the noir side. In this documentary, Michael Palm pays stylish homage to my hero, and to one of Hollywood?s oddest and saddest careers. Ulmer began his artistic career propitiously enough, working as theater set designer for Max Reinhardt, and as apprentice to such film notables as F.W. Murnau. Transplanted to the US in the years before World War II, however, he found himself cranking out potboilers at a furious pace for the low rent studios on Hollywood?s ?poverty row.? Ulmer?s life in the movies would take him into even stranger cinematic waters over the next three decades, including ?race movies?, Yiddish language films, and low-rent science fiction. It?s a tribute to his genius, that even the shoddiest of these films has enough style and quirkiness to warrant watching.
Ulmer films in the Media Resources Center
In the blessedly quiet weeks following the end of Spring semester, MRC staff have had the opportunity to develop a number of new and hopefully useful videographies:
Movie Serials, Series, and Sequels...
In his extremely useful web site, filmsite.org , the redoubable Tim Dirks has this to say about movie serials:
"Serial Films are some of the earliest forms of film during the silent era through to the 1950s, often episodic in form (usually with 12-15 parts) and simplistic in plot, that were shown over a period of weeks or years. The multi-part films consisted of episodes that could be anywhere between fifteen and twenty minutes in length. The segments were presented one chapter at a time in weekly installments over the course of time. Serials were usually included during the shorts projected in a neighborhood movie theatre, offered before the feature film, B-western, or Saturday afternoon 'kiddie' matinee. They were often scheduled along with lots of cartoons, newsreels, other two-reelers, and theatrical trailers/previews.
Serials would generally include attractive heroines, action
heroes, and villains (the Scorpion, the Dragon, and the Spider, to name a
few) in melodramatic sequences that often ended with a suspenseful (and manipulative)
cliffhanger ending - that promised to be continued the next week to
bring the ticket-buying audience back for more. The heroes and heroines would
courageously fight for justice and honor, and the diabolical villains with
evil devices would struggle against them. Action sequences would predominate
with chases, jumps off buildings or trains, terrifying falls, narrow escapes,
fist-fights, close calls and hair-raising situations, and other exciting,
death-defying stunts, involving runaway trains, fires, sawmills, other natural
disasters, and explosions. In all serials, the truth was often exaggerated
or stretched in order to keep the hero alive from week to week." [http://www.filmsite.org/serialfilms.html ]
The Media Resources Center has fairly recently begun collecting this fascinating genre of films. A listing of current holdings has been compiled at http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/serials.html The videography also includes a listing of series and sequel films (films that continue a theme or that feature the same characters in varied plot situations.
Movie Remakes and Variant Versions
The history of the movies is full of cases in which particular films have been remade with different casts and crews or with different spins on a particular story or plot. Remakes of films based on novels and plays have been particularly common. The earliest remake of film may, in fact, have been one of the earliest motion pictures: Louis Lumière, who along with his brother August is often credited with the invention of projected film, directed several versions of his groundbreaking actuality, "Worker's Leaving the Lumiere Factory" (1895) (included on the DVD The Lumière Brothers' First Films Media Center: DVD 25
The Media Center owns a large number of remakes, representing a wide variety of genres and time periods. Check out what we have to offer at: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/remakes.html
Women Film Directors
The movies are over a century and a quarter old...and so is the celluloid ceiling which has largely kept women out of the director's chair. Although the first century and a quarter of cinema history saw a number of redoubtable women directors (Alice Guy-Blache, Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner, Frances Marion, and Ida Lupino, among others), it has really only been in the past 30 years or so that women have made significant entries into the realm of fictional film directing. Take a look at the impressive listing of women directors at http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/womendirectors.html for an idea of how things have changed in the last several decades. Not surprisingly given the economics and power politics of Hollywood, women filmmakers have historically fared considerably better as documentary filmmakers (creatively, if not economically). For a listing of works by notable women documentary makers, see MRC's Documentary Classics videography: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/documentaryclassics.html
Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes. 2006. 60 min. Media Education Foundation (www.mediaed.org )
I like to think of myself as a pop culture libertarian. But even my Berkeleyan buttons get pushed sometimes, and nothing pushes them more aggressively or consistently than hip-hop of the gangsta or thug persuasion. Byron Hunt?s insightful and often disturbing documentary dissection of hip-hop culture?s dark sides articulates most of the obvious reasons I haven?t become a 50 Cent or Notorious B.I.G. fan. As Hunt admits in his film, he grew up immersed in rap (?without listening much to the lyrics?), and he clearly still loves the music. After taking a job at Northeastern University counseling young men about violence against women, however, he increasingly began to interrogate hip-hop?s proclivity for violence, misogyny, and homophobia. In Beyond Beats & Rhymes Hunt interviews hip-hop stars and producers, wannabes, fans, and academics in an attempt to frame the issues and to assign cultural and artistic responsibilities for both problems and solutions. While deep discourse and analysis of complex social and economic issues is not the strong-suit of most documentary films (including this one), Hunt does manage to offer more than a few eye-opening observations. Segments dealing with the frequently wide disparity between the private and performing personas of hip-hoppers, and with the role of the (largely white) music industry in perpetuating hip-hop?s hateful attitudes are particularly revealing.
--Gary Handman (Director, Media Resources Center)
Media Center: DVD 6448
And speaking of hip-hop: fans and foes alike may be interested in MRC's expanding collections of rap and hip-hop performance works and documentaries which discuss the form. Check them out at MRC's Musical Traditions of the World videography.
As is the case with other academic disciplines, articles in key Film Studies and Mass Communications journals are becoming increasingly available online--good news, indeed, for cinema and TV researchers. The majority of these full-text articles are accessible via the various online article databases to which the library subscribes. In order access these databases you must be a card-carrying UCB student, faculty, or staff. The databases are accessible from any campus computer or from residence units. If you are off campus, and connect to the Internet through a commercial Internet Service Provider (such as EarthLink or DSL), you can get full access to library resources by using the library's proxy server. For instructions on how to set up a proxy, see
A listing of film-related electronic journals (both those available through library databases and those openly available to anyone via the web) is posted at:
The various thematic and topical film studies bibliographies on the MRC web site also link to many of these online journal articles.