Genre and Experimentation: Central European Cinema in Context

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Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
311GE exam 3 3 hours (45 min) of instruction per week, 44 to 59 hours of self-study English summer

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This course is part of a two-course sequence, one in each semester. Students can take either part without prerequisite, or both, if they have time and interest. Films, lectures, and readings will be different in both semesters. This semester will focus intensely on the Visegrad region: Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, and Polish film. The second will focus on a wider range of film movements and traditions (both avant-garde and popular) which have shaped Central European Cinema from within.

The Visegrad region of Central Europe has long been known as an artistic and intellectual island within the greater European sphere. Although ravaged by war, foreign occupation, and totalitarian governments for much of the last few centuries, the Visegrad countries (Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, and Poland) have managed to survive and often thrive as centers of culture and artistic experimentation. This course will focus on films from four of the largest cultural groups in the Visegrad region Central Europe (Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, and Polish) with the goal of examining how this region’s history has impacted its culture by looking at the four regions’ responses to identity, war, and domestic social problems. In addition to focusing on film theory, we will also be discussing cultural history and media theory, learning approaches to “reading” films not only as movies, but also as multi-faceted cultural artifacts. To this end, our readings will contain primary source materials on cinema history, historical research, film theory, and literature intended to broaden our understanding of the various cultures, visual and otherwise which inform cinema creation in this part of Europe.

While this syllabus gives a fairly accurate portrayal of the material we will cover, additional material may be assigned (and assigned material may be dropped or altered) at any time as the semester progresses, in order to better suit the needs and interests of the class.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will:

-understand the cultural and historical elements which are the backbone of every film, while also applying film and cultural theory to a variety of visual media

-gain a deeper appreciation of cultural history and how it relates to their own creative processes with the aim of giving students tools useful in all aspects of the filmmaking process

-learn about and understand the key works of the centraleuropean cinema

-learn how to present their ideas and analysis in a clear, concise, and above all, effective manner

Prerequisites and other requirements

Attendance and active class participation are mandatory, as are all films and readings. Repeated unexcused absences will result in penalties to the attendance and class participation scores. Students who have legitimate excuses (to be determined as the situation requires) will be allowed to make up a MAXIMUM of 2 classes by writing additional essays.


Jeffery Fleishman, “The Greatest Czech Who Never Lived

Martin Votruba, “Hang ‘Em High: The Elevation of Jánošík to Ethnic Icon

Robert Murphy, “Polanski and Skolimowski in Swinging London

David Robinson, Peter Hames, “Redl Ezredes/Colonel Redl

Antonin J. Liehm, “Miloš Forman

Alexander Dubček, “Action Program”,

Milan Šimečka, Letters from Prison, (excerpt)

Krysztof Kieslowski, Bohdan Kosinski, Tomasz Zygadło „Documentary Filmmakers Make Their Case

Tony Judt Postwar (excerpt)

Richard Williams, “Deep Waters

Luers, William H. „Czechoslovakia: The Road to Revolution

Katarína Mišíková, „The Real Story: Indexing Strategies of Slovak Social Film Dramas

Pawel Pawlikowski, „Film as Meditation

Evaluation methods and criteria

This course will be graded according to 4 areas— class attendance, class participation, a 3-4 page scholarly research essay midterm and a 7-8 page final research essay. The breakdown is here:


This course is only open for students enrolled in accredited degree programs at FAMU, preferably in the master level. Students in non-accredited semestral and full-year students (CET, CIEE, APP, and Erasmus/Erasmus+) are required to take the other section.

The subject is not taught every year. The subject is taught at least once every three academic years.

Further information

No schedule has been prepared for this course

The subject is a part of the following study plans