The postgraduate in Film Curating Studies aims to define the specific characteristics of film curating, a field with a bright future whose own epistemology nevertheless still needs to be identified and developed
The course focuses on the large body of theoretical knowledge (partly inherited from the plastic arts) and explores different programming traditions and schools. In addition to the study and critical review of these movements, the course also encourages students to rethink the film distribution and access conditions and formulas in a new (and uncertain) turning point for the traditional exhibition model, which has been called into question by the rise of streaming platforms and the gradual disappearance of movie theatres.
As well as cultivating each participant's unique criterion and outlook, the course also provides the tools necessary for the complete development of film projects, from initial conception to final execution. The specialist course also strives to encourage budding curators to engage in research work, to explore the worlds of film criticism and essay writing and to engage in various academic activities. We believe that all curatorial work requires prior research, and that this research should be as rigorous and profound as that carried out in the academic world, the only difference being that, in this case, the work carried out leads to a public project (an exhibition, catalogue, programme, festival, etc.) rather than a scientific text.
The geography of screens
To invent a territory as you pass through it. The Film Curating Studies master’s degree is a journey through a country with no borders or free-trade zones. What sort of training should we be providing to those aspiring to a profession that (almost) does not yet exist? This Master’s degree is one possible answer. It proposes an initial period of intense reflection and conceptualisation, designed to provide a philosophical and aesthetic foundation, identify key questions and allow students to become more rigorous in their use of language.
During this initial period, which coincides with the two first modules, the intuition of cinematographic programming is combined with the more structured tradition of artistic curatorial thought. The arc of light that emanates from the meeting of these two extremes illuminates the next steps, which are focused on acquiring practical skills and abilities, since film curators make thought and history with their hands, giving shape to the present through their practice. During this second phase, the Master’s degree pays special attention to writing (using both words and images) and to the practice of programming, understood as an exercise in ideation, although also in budgetary, management and communicative materialisation. The final stage of the teaching period goes one step further in the formalisation of the profession, proposing an approach to curating as the true driver behind cinematographic production. In other words, it views curating as the generator of new cultural realities (from research and production to pedagogy).
From its initial theoretical combustion onwards, the Master’s degree constitutes a tapered beam of light that gradually projects an ever clearer picture of its images and sounds, and the ideas and paradoxes stemming from them, onto the surfaces of the present. A journey to the geography of screens.
One of the fundamental traits of this course is that it maintains constant professional and teaching contact with the institutions that support and generate it. Students can work on a wide range of different curatorial projects, including those proposed by Tabakalera and the San Sebastián International Film Festival.
The Master’s degree is coordinated by Eva Sangiorgi, the artistic director of the Viennale, the Vienna International Film Festival.
The art of aberration. Concepts of aesthetics and the theory of cinema
Module: 1, 3
This is a subject that analyses aesthetics focused on the specific forms of cinema. The aim is to provide an introductory approach to fundamental questions about the theory of cinema, from a non-diachronic perspective and with an intentionally relational gaze, searching for connections and links with other art forms and philosophical questions. The subject aims to lay the groundwork for certain concepts that will be developed, explored in more complex depth and/or contradicted in other core subjects. We will study questions such as the difference between imaginal and imaginary, notions of realism and representation, the dichotomy between tongue and language, and approaches based on phenomenology and reception theories. From a methodological perspective, the aim is for all issues to emanate from the formal operations of cinema itself at the limit of its own existence. In the context of the subject, this search is identified as ‘the art of aberration’. The term is used with the meaning given by theorist Jurgis Baltrušaitis in his discussion of the peculiar and specific legend of forms, their deformations, their masks and their monsters.
The map of the (three) archives
Sonia García López
Module: 1, 3
This subject offers EQZE students the opportunity of taking on an exploratory role (creative, researcher, curator) within archive-related film and audio-visual practice, bearing the three tenses of cinema in mind: the past, linked to memory; the present, linked to action; and the future, linked to planning and foresight. This philosophical proposal aims to prompt students to think about historical and contemporary cultural and political problems from the perspective of the conceptual framework offered by the concepts of profanation (Giorgio Agamben) and the creative act (Gilles Deleuze).
Unfinished cinema. Political drifts of film culture
Pablo La Parra
Module: 4, 5
This course poses a series of historical, methodological, and theoretical reflections to interrogate the political dimension of film culture. It takes as a central case study a heterogeneous set of radical practices developed in the Sixties and Seventies of the twentieth century, which we will approach under the concept of "militant cinema", understood in an expanded sense. At this period, film culture experienced one of its most convulsive periods of radicalization on a global scale: in the heat of the struggles of the "long '68" and a series of crucial technical developments, the ways of making, thinking, and sharing moving images were transformed. The course proposes to critically revisit the archive of militant cinema and interrogate how these images of the past continue to reverberate in the present and how we relate to them through the tools of research, archiving, curating, and creation. The course does not aim to present a chapter in the history of cinema, but rather to become an exercise in methodology and thought that overflows its case study to delve into the interrelations between theory and practice, aesthetics, and politics, past and present.
Thinking historically about film. Opening up images, writing a story.
Module: 4, 5
Opening up images means making them talk in the present tense through an appropriate act of reading that adheres to their complex singularity in order to build, patiently, a meaning that combines seeing with knowing. We will reflect on the performative dimension of cinema images in relation to the construction and understanding of a story about the past, along with its ethical, aesthetic, and political consequences. Secondly, we will explore some of the instances involved in the writing and transmission of a history of cinema: from the politics of the canon to programming, paying special attention to the fundamental role played by film and cinema archives in ensuring the recognition of films as works of art and part of our heritage. For some decades now, museums have also been another key element for ensuring their existence as a field for experimentation, a reciprocal and complementary movement between cinema and museum, in which the former has found an alternative to traditional production and exhibition channels, and the latter has discovered the opportunity to rethink itself through this interruption. We will evoke that movement linked to the contemporary cinematographic experience and will end up asking ourselves about the forms of a cinema that is separate from its traditional technological device.
History and aesthetics of Basque cinema
This course suggests an approach to Basque film. Beginning with an historical contextualization in order to provide the background of the birth and development of Basque film up to the present time, it will carry out a chronological and thematic review of the history of Basque film and will present the most notable Basque filmmakers from its origins to the present day, with particularly close attention to the three (or more) generations of Basque filmmakers who are currently active.
Peculiarities of film curatorships
The exhibition is an ultimate and indispensable act for the existence of a cinematographic work. However, a formal reflection on this subject is still underdeveloped. The curator becomes a vehicle between the creative act and its promotion, and according to the circumstances is a curator, programmer, preserver, producer, promoter. His or her profession is accompanied by the practice of research, criticism, writing, and teaching . Through concrete examples, the singularities of film curatorship in different contexts, which involve specific approaches and methodologies, will be brought to light.
The history of artistic curating and curatorial thinking
This subject reconstructs exhibition activity and artistic curatorial thinking from the 19th to the 21st century. It is an in-depth exploration of ways of presenting art (cabinets of curiosities, salons, national collections, museums, universal exhibitions, artists’ galleries, fairs and biennials, etc.), as well as of the specific thinking that grew up, from the second half of the 20th century onwards, around curatorial activity. From the perspective offered by the long traditional of artistic curating, this subject explores the characteristics inherent to film curating, seen from the viewpoint of a museum institution.
In addition to being cinematographic, geopolitical, sociocultural, media and economic melting pots, film festivals are also, in themselves, the object of academic study. Vital agents in the audiovisual industry (some with enormous driving force), thanks to their ability to offer a cross-section of the annual calendar of a specific reality, festivals also have the startling ability to diagnose the present. The two years of the global pandemic have shown the capacity of festivals to concentrate, in just a few days, all the currents affecting the global situation. Just like the context in which they are immersed, festivals are always under construction - hence their ephemeral and contingent nature. At the same time, the academic discipline focused on the study of festivals emerges today as a new field whose naturally mutating specificity has yet to be fully identified. Film festivals and academic discipline: both under construction, both ‘construction sites’.
The aim of this course is to offer a theoretical/analytical/experience-based approach to this cinematographic phenomenon, from a privileged perspective: that of the preliminary territory that defines a festival and a school: the San Sebastián International Film Festival and the EQZE.
Gonzalo De Pedro
Module: 1, 4
This course proposes a theoretical-practical exercise of curatorship of a public program, defined and managed by students of the Film Curating itinerary, in the cinema of Tabakalera during the week of April 17, 2023. In practical terms, it addresses central questions of curatorship: what to program? Why? For whom? With what legitimacy? From and to where? What do we want to achieve? Whom do we invite, what audience? What films do we leave out, and why? Who will come to see us? Who usually comes to see us? Who do we want to come and see us? Do we want, need, to program movies? And the viewers, who are they, and who are not?
The subject does not seek to replicate existing programs, but to think collectively from the cinema theatre, its technical characteristics, but also physical, sociological, environmental, ideological, political, cultural, climatological, and determine what can be contributed, what is missing, what is left over, and how to intervene in the debate and public dialogue through a program.
Programming models, criteria, schools and paradigms I & II
Ricardo Matos Cabo
Module: 3, 4
This subject conducts a detailed examination of the various film programming paradigms, both those emerging on a regular basis over time (in archives and permanent establishments) and those concentrated in certain periods (one-off events and festivals). The subject features a historic/conceptual journey which pauses to dwell on specific creators, spaces and projects which have turned programming into an art of “putting on films”. It will also provide the students with the necessary tools to engage critically with different programming situations and to be able respond to practical and ethical challenges that sometimes exist when working with archival images and sound material. We will look the relation between programming, knowledge and writing of film history.
El buen amor. Critical writing workshop
Module: 3, 5
This is a theoretical and practical course around writing about cinema. It is divided into three blocks; the first will introduce students to some notions of critical writing, description of images and sounds, definition of concepts and the use of bibliographic tools; the second block will be dedicated to the essay, criticism and the editor work, and the third will be focused on working with texts, documents and publications on cinema.
Zinefabrika. Development of curatorial and cinematographic projects
Module: 4, 5
Zinefabrika encompasses the production, management and materialisation of curatorial activity. The subject focuses on the tools and competences inherent to the circulation and exhibition of the moving image, exploring questions linked to exhibition rights, the location and transfer of copies and the relationship established with exhibition spaces. It also plunges students into the creative dimension of production, providing them with the skills and abilities they will need as curators to generate cinematographic works. Some issues dealt with in this section include compiling a budget, curating leadership and dealing with artists and filmmakers. Finally, the subject provides firm practical support to graduation projects.
Introduction to video-essay
Cristina Álvarez López
This course addresses the production of critical thinking about cinema through writing with images and sounds. The classes offer an introduction to different ideas, practices, and film currents that can be considered as precursors of the audiovisual essay; a reflection on the role of editing and the different methods of recombination when articulating a reflection about cinema; an analysis of individual pieces with the intention of understanding the different processes and mechanisms that are put in place when preparing an audiovisual essay. The goal of this course is to provide students with a solid foundation that allows them—as spectators—to understand, analyze, and evaluate audiovisual essays; and—as potential filmmakers—to face the production of this kind of pieces. With this goal in mind, the course is divided into theoretical and practical classes.
Permanent observatory of sound
Module: 1, 3
The Observatory is involved throughout the first semester of the academic year, providing a space for training, practice and research in sound. In addition to pre-established themes, it can also adapt to the specific needs of group members at any time, linking into practical work and projects under development.
Module: 1, 4
This course, which takes place throughout the academic year, seeks to confront students with the nature of their film and the methodology of approach. Where does your film come from? What is it about? What emotion is it trying to arouse? Can it be told in images? How does the author want the spectator to feel at the end of the screening?
From these and other issues, the course is intended to initiate – or get back to, in some cases – the processes of reflection and development of the work process that will culminate in the film. The course basically foucses on three points: first, working with the Starting Point or origin of the film as the soul of the creative journey; second, the need to expand the scope of this journey from concrete elements capable of adding complexity and depth to the film and, finally, the concreteness of the project from the writing stage.
Film and video in the space of contemporary art
An in-depth look at the exhibition of film and video in contemporary art spaces. A journey through different institutional or organisational contexts, both local and international, reflecting the cultural impact and political implications of the diverse displays over the decades. In addition to the historical approximation, it will address aesthetics, circulation of works, spectators, blind spots and practical issues of film and video exhibition today in museums, galleries, biennials or other unconventional spaces.
The art of Primitive Emulsions
This workshop looks at the production of home-made photochemical emulsions. Although it is based on film archaeology, it explores many contemporary creative questions. It is a workshop for those interested in the history of materiality, although it will also appeal to filmmakers curious about film not just as a means of storing their ideas, images and soundtracks, but rather as a material that actively forms and distorts these ideas, images and sounds.
This course begins from a simple but radical proposition: to take seriously what filmmakers themselves say, write and reflect upon when they talk about films. Not as explanations of their own work, but as general propositions or theories about cinema itself. In summarising the positions of many, diverse filmmakers, I will survey notions of art and craft, the creative process, ‘statements of intention’, and the vocation or destiny of the medium.
The other film camera
Module: 3, 5
In the origins of film, the cameras used to record images were also used to project them. The operator who worked the crank to capture the moment was also the person in charge of making the gear turn so that, once developed, the images could be projected onto a screen. At what point did these two functions (and these two cameras) separate? And, above all, what were the consequences of this? Why is it that the profession of projectionist is now (and has been practically since the mechanisation of the reel drive and the creation of distribution circuits) so far removed from that of camera operator? The statement made by Henri Langlois, founder of Cinématèque Française, that his film camera was his projection camera, highlights the importance of reclaiming the art of projecting.
Module: 3, 5
The subject aims to prompt a reflection on language, performance and action, both in their specificity and in relation to the limits that define them. Special attention will be paid to the meeting points between different knowledge areas of artistic practice, the exploration of register and performance, action, the indicial quality of the performative register and its transformation into other languages, from drawing to sculpture, text, documents and video, etc.
The starting point for our work will be students’ processes in relation to their own work. This will enable the definition of a landscape that will allow us to become aware of the body as a sign, as well as the positional value of language and its performative dimension. The embodiment of corporal signs, sounds, words and their transformative and political potential.
Contacts: cinema, video, and art in the Basque context
This subject focuses on the audio-visual of artist in the context of the Basque Country. It takes as its starting point the fluid relationships of the moving image and the displacements between cinema and artistic practices, especially those that take places in the art system: museums, art centres and galleries, or in the outskirts of the cinema itself. Based on a series of case studies, viewings, outings and guests, the subject examines the local landscape of audio-visual creation.
Open digital sources for audio-visual archives
The class begins with an introduction on file formats. Building on this the students will practically explore free and open-source software, such as FFmpeg (for in-depth file transformation), QCTools (for quality control), AEO-Light (sound extraction from optical tracks) and DCP-o-matic (DCP encoding), as well as various media players. Resources on infrastructure and workflows for film and video digitisation will be presented and discussed, taking account especially of solutions which can be implemented in difficult environments at little expense. An overview on data preservation and migration, as well as disaster planning and recovery, will round off this class.
Tinting and toning
Right from the very beginning, cinema has always been a colour medium, and many different processes have been developed to add a touch of colour to black and white images. From chemical tints and tones to manual painting, the development of Technicolor and modern emulsions, film has always used colour as a means of artistic expression. In this workshop we explore the original colour of film and the aesthetic possibilities that these techniques offer to filmmakers and artists.
Construction of (audio and visual) universes
This subject specifically addresses all phases of the design and construction of audio universes: ideation, work criteria, relations with images, gestation of projects based on sound, mixing etc. The multisensory power of images and sound. The synaesthetic sensory stimulation of images and sounds and the articulation of their paradoxical power in film.
EQZELab. Professional film laboratory
The last stage in the gradual acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities linked to the processing of photochemical films. The subject introduces students to the techniques and workflows of a professional laboratory through the practical handling of specific technologies for developing (16 mm colour and black and white), colour correction and copying. By acquiring these practical skills, students also help maintain inter-generational knowledge of the film culture and industry that would otherwise be lost. Furthermore, those on the course can assume responsibility for processing the film materials generated at the school, thereby keeping the EQZELab service active.
Digital processing of images II: Diamant
The DIAMANT film restoration software is a professional solution for film restoration, cleaning and repair. The workshop, which is run by the digital manager of the Catalonia Film Library, teaches students how to optimise their workflow in the digital restoration process.
Conservation and preservation of complex media
This course introduces students to the primary issues and emerging strategies for the conservation/preservation of new media and digital artworks. These artworks go beyond single video or film projections; contemporary artists use a wide variety of audio-visual formats and technologies to create complex installations that are fascinating to study. Examples range from older artworks using obsolete components like TVs (cathode ray tubes) to multi-channel synchronized works, works using game engines or custom code, or works that pull data from the Internet. Complex artworks typically contain many interrelated parts that must be deciphered and documented to ensure the artwork will function in the future in a manner that is faithful to the artist's vision. Students will learn analyse the artworks and to identify potential risks by studying several artworks in the collection of a local cultural institution. They will research exhibition histories, consult institutional files, examine an artwork's actual component parts, and discuss the artworks with museum staff. In the process, a great deal will be learned about the care and conservation of artworks in museums and archives.