Doha Film Institute

Introduction to Film Studies with Richard Peña (Online)

- Doha Film Institute

Richard Peña / / N/A / 180 min / Colour and B&W / Digital / In English / subtitles
Themes :


‘What is Cinema?’ was the title of one of the most important books written on film theory, by Frenchman André Bazín. Bazín was interested in the aesthetic and metaphysical aspects of the medium, but “what is cinema”, in more practical terms? It’s a series of decisions, every shot, that deals with everything from composition to sound to quality of light to what shots precede or follow. Each moment of a film involves many, many decisions: where to place the camera, where to position the actors, choosing how they will dress, should there be music in the background (or not), the relation of a shot to those that precede it and those that follow it, etc. In this ten-part mini-course, we go over the basic techniques filmmakers have at their disposal in order to convey information and create meaning in film. The first six sessions of this course will introduce the major avenues of expression in the cinema: cinematography, camera movement editing, mise-en-scène, sound and narrative. In the final four sessions, all participants will engage in close, detailed readings of two films that will elucidate not only the filmmakers’ technical choices but the reasons behind those choices. Each class will be 3 hours long.

Course syllabus:

Class One: The Origins of Cinema; cinematography - all operations involving the camera
Class Two: Camera Movement
Class Three: Mise-en-scène—all operations having to do with what is to be filmed by the camera
Class Four: Editing - Classical Editing and Alternative Editing Strategies
Class Five: Sound—all operations having to do with pre-recorded audio accompaniment for images
Class Six: Narrative—the assemblage of series of shots into stories
Class Seven: Analysis of a Classical Film (film to be seen outside of class)
Class Eight: Analysis of a Classical Film (film to be seen outside of class)
Class Nine: Analysis of a Modernist Film (film to be seen outside of class)
Class Ten: Analysis of a Modernist Film (film to be seen outside of class)

Eligibility: This programme is open to individuals over the age of 18. The sessions are best suited for those with some previous knowledge of filmmaking or film history, and who wish to expand their understanding of the medium.


Richard Peña

Richard Peña Richard Peña was the Programme Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival from 1988 until 2012. At the Film Society, Peña organised retrospectives of many film artists, as well as major film series devoted to numerous national cinemas. Together with Unifrance, in 1995, he created Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the leading American showcase for new French cinema. He is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Columbia University, where he specialises in film theory and international cinema and has served as a Visiting Professor at the Sorbonne, Beijing University, UNAM-Mexico City and the University of São Paulo. He also currently hosts WNET/Channel 13’s weekly ‘Reel 13’.