This week in CiNECiTY we watch Charlie Chaplin’s last ever silent film and one of his most famous pieces of work, Modern Times.
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Cast: Charlie Chaplin
Written By: Charlie Chaplin
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Duration: 86 min
Colour: Black & White
Country/Language: USA / English
This film was made after the introduction of synchronised sound to feature length films (1927’s The Jazz Singer was the first full-length sound film). Chaplin was originally going to use dialogue, he even wrote a script for the words, but after some experimenting he reverted to the silent format and just used the synched sound for effects. It was his last silent film, he eventually joined the status quo and all the films he made after this were “talkies”.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Why do you think the factory worker wanted to go back to jail? Why didn’t the lady want to go to jail? Did Chaplin want you to think that prison was like the factory, or perhaps even better? How can you tell?
Modern Times was made and set during the Great Depression. Do you think Chaplin was concerned about the modern, industrial world having a dehumanising effect on people? Why? Do you think these concerns are still relevant today or have we succeeded in using technology positively?
Refugee Week began last Sunday and this year The Refugee Council of Australia has chosen this line from our national anthem as the theme:
“With courage let us all combine”
This is a celebration of the incredible courage of refugees and also of those who stand up against injustice and oppression. It also “serves as a call for unity and for positive action, encouraging Australians to improve our nation’s welcome for refugees and to acknowledge the skills and energy refugees bring to their new home.”
Sara Farizan, Will Kostakis and Amie Kaufman; three of the amazing and diverse writers who spoke at the 2015 Reading Matters Conference
Some of our library staff recently attended a two day conference called Reading Matters, run by the State Library’s Centre for Youth Literature. There, we heard some amazing discussions involving a host of Australian and international authors and illustrators of young adult (or YA) literature.
One of the overarching themes of the conference was the importance of the existence of a wide variety of texts with diverse characters, each telling stories from as many different perspectives as possible. The authors who spoke of this need were themselves from very diverse walks of life, who felt the need to write the kinds of stories that they were never exposed to when they were young because YA books were predominantly written with very western, straight and conservative characters at the fore.
Readers need to identify with the characters in a book and believe that they are real; therefore books need to reflect the diversity of people in the real world. Thankfully, these days, the YA market is full of amazing and diverse stories featuring characters with many different genders, races, religions, sexualities, abilities, dreams, needs, flaws, illnesses… the list goes on and on! And this is exactly the point! Diversity is a fact of life and the stories we share should reflect that diversity or we are doing our young adults a disservice.
People learn through experience and reading is the sharing of experience. Books have the power to shape, change and even save lives, as the authors we heard speak will attest. A teenager who may not know how to deal with certain issues can safely share the experiences of the characters in a novel and thus become enlightened about how best to conduct themselves. They will learn about the consequences of certain actions. They will see other people’s points of view. It may help them comfort or support their friends or families. It may indeed change or save their life.
FCC Library endeavours to reflect the wonderful diversity of our own school community through the selection of our collection. We have novels, comics, picture books, biographies, non-fiction and short story collections which we feel have as much diversity of content and characters as is available in YA books today. Our staff love to help students select books so come and speak to us if you need anything specific or if you just want to chat about books.
Our library has recently subscribed to the Issues in Society series published by Spinney Press. They are a valuable resource for students who are researching current issues, as they curate content from a variety of sources and put them in one clear volume. They can be accessed in both print and digital formats from our library. Here is what Spinney Press says of the series:
“Issues in Society is an invaluable series of books which contain previously published information sourced from newspapers, magazines, journals, government reports, surveys, websites and lobby group literature.
The series offers up-to-date, diverse information about the social issues shaping our changing world. Each book explores a range of facts and opinions, providing the reader with a concise overview of the topic.”
Some of the topics covered include online safety, wealth inequality, animal welfare, youth unemployment, sexual health, violence and obesity, but there are many others.
The print books are available for short term loan from the library’s circulation desk. However you can also read and download digital copies from our library website as long as you are logged in to your school Google account (YOUR USERNAME@footscray.vic.edu.au).
This Wednesday at 3:20pm CiNCiTY will screen this groundbreaking zombie original….
Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Duane Jones
Written By: George A. Romero
John A. Russo
Duration: 96 min
Colour: Black and White
Country/Language: USA / English
Before NOTLD “zombie” films were centered around “voodoo zombies”. This involved living victims being transformed into slaves by mystical forces. White Zombie (1932) and I Walked With A Zombie (1946) are two examples. NOTLD transformed the “zombie” into a resurrected corpse with cannibalistic intent and initiated many of the tropes of the genre we’re familiar with today – the rest is history.
In the USA in 1968 the copyright symbol had to be present on the actual print of a film (e.g. in the credits or title) in order to be covered by copyright law. NOTLD was originally called Night of the Flesh Eaters and this title appeared on the early prints of the film along with the copyright stamp. It was later changed by the distribution company because an earlier film had a similar name, but the copyright information was not put back onto the theatrical release prints leaving the film uncopyrighted and in the public domain. Though unfortunate for the filmmakers this has possibly contributed to the proliferation of the “zombie” genre and allowed others to freely use and build upon the original ideas from the film. Do you think copyright helps or hinders creativity?
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Why do you think this film was such a success in the horror genre? Was it because a premise this frightful had never been brought to the screen before or was it skillful filmmaking?
The filmmakers insist that they were just trying to make a scary movie. Do you believe (like some critics) that the movie is actually trying to make a point about society? Think about when and where the film was made… consider events like the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement.
The Boat by Nam Le is a critically acclaimed book of short stories which won many awards including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2009. The last story in the collection is about a girl who’s parents send her to Australia by boat after the fall of Saigon in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War.
One of my favourite authors, Charles Yu, has a book of short stories called Sorry Please Thank You. In it is a story called Hero Absorbs Major Damagewhich follows a computer game hero and his band of warriors on their quest through 256 levels of battling orcs, eating chicken and negotiating love triangles. This was already an awesome and funny story, but it has been given +3 Awesome Points with a new re-telling on Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading site (they publish one short story a week online) where one of the characters (an elf named Fjoork) has annotated the text and given his perspective on the events once only narrated by the Hero. You need to click on the highlighted yellow text to get Fjoork’s sardonic commentary. This is a new form of digital storytelling with exciting possibilities. Check out the story with its annotations here. And don’t forget to read the editor’s note for a bit of info about the story and its use of the annotation software.
Having played various musical instruments from an early age I was fascinated to learn about this wearable metronome that syncs with your phone. It’s designed for use with any instrument by musicians of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. The device can be worn around your arm or leg, depending on your instrument. To find out more, here is a link to their crowd funding campaign with indiegogo. I hope they reach their target, as feeling a metronome pulse rather than seeing or hearing it makes so much sense to me. On another musical note (geddit?) ASAP Science have put together some audio illusions “Can you trust you ears?” This video explains auditory illusions and phenomena such as the ‘Shepard Tone Illusion’.
In 1999 in Paris UNESCO declared March the 21st as WORLD POETRY DAY. To celebrate I thought I’d share some websites that showcase local poets and some places you could submit your own poetry.
VOICEWORKS is a print and digital quarterly magazine which is published by Express Media. It features writing and artwork by Australians under the age of twenty five so it’s a great place to start if you want to get your work published. Though it’s not exclusively for poetry, they do have this great page of tips for writing poetry.
MELBOURNE SPOKEN WORD is a site dedicated to… you guessed it – the spoken word scene in Melbourne! This means it’s full of actual videos of poets performing their work – and believe me some of them are great! For example:
CORDITE POETRY REVIEW is an online journal dedicated to showing off new and established Australian poets to the world. They promote “irreverent and experimental poetics.” This is a bit more of an ‘adult’ site than Voiceworks or but you can still submit to them here.