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It is more than likely that similar histories as the one linked to WDR wait to be discovered in other countries.
As a child and adolescent in the 1970s and 1980s it thus depended quite heavily on your location as to which kind of television program you were exposed and what kind of cinephile discoveries you could make on television.
I can tell from my own experience that a retrospective of Jack Arnold Films in autumn and winter 1983 was a formative event – especially since it comprised ‘Jack Arnold relates…’, where the director, around 70 years old at the time, would explain the historic background of his films, the special effects for , etc.
Film educational efforts (pursued most insistently in France since the 1960s) and experimentation on television are two of the currents that should play a more important role in the historiography of the video essay.
One important center of activity in the Federal Republic of Germany was the film department of Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) in Cologne.
We interviewed protagonists from different fields like Jean Douchet, Alain Bergala, Peter Tscherkassky, Martin Arnold, Tag Gallagher, Bernard Eisenschitz, André S.
Labarthe, and others; we compiled a filmography of this genre, and we edited 18 online dossiers built around the people, infrastructures, and topics. First and foremost, we organised cinema screenings to present work from this context.
And most of these went to cities with four digit postal codes – not the big cities, but small cities and villages.
We found out that the people in the countryside were really hungry for culture.***Investigating the WDR as an important precursor and initiator for what later became known as videographic film studies was one of the goals of the independent research project Kunst der Vermittlung in 20.
In those days, since there were no VHS recorders, people asked for transcripts of the programs.
So our office was always filled up with piles of manuscripts to send via mail.