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Brian D

Top 25 or 100 for 2018-19

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I would love to participate. I have not really been part of any cinema conversation for a while, but have kept current and am gearing back up for some writing this coming year. There were some really spectacular films from the last few years which went under the radar but would look great on this list. Looking forward to feeling the old flicker of life at A&F.

I second or fourth the notion about communicating with Image to defining our relationship at the moment.

 

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I have exchanged e-mails with staff at Image about this website. Not surprisingly, they are quite busy with the Glen Workshop, but I was told they would get back in touch with me after that was done. 

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9 hours ago, Andrew said:

I think this may be the Top 100/25 discussion you were asking about, Joel:  

 

Yes! Thanks for this. Reading the whole thread, it seems I even contributed to the discussion!

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On 7/19/2018 at 1:29 AM, Rob Z said:

I really enjoyed participating in the Top 25 list last year, and I'd be eager to participate in whatever form this takes. I agree with Brian and others that discussions around lists seem productive for this forum, and those would be discussions I'd want to participate in.

Same goes for me. Last year was my first time participating, and I'd love to be part of another one. I also second everything Rob said in a later comment about being excited to just be included whether you decide to weigh votes or not.

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On 7/19/2018 at 11:55 PM, Brian D said:

I also strongly recommend we find a way to include dynamic female film voices like Melissa Tamminga and Alissa Wilkinson.  Whether for blurbs or just voting, their contribution would be incredible.  Also, BethR and other women who've played a key role in Arts and Faith.

Thanks. I agree :)

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Joel and I have had some talks, and there seems to be a small but clear consensus that site members would like another iteration of the Top 100. I think it is probably too late in the year to try to do it for 2018, but I think if there is consensus, we could go ahead and set target dates (appointing a spearhead person, opening for nominations, setting out how voting would be done, etc.) 

I have also floated in the past the idea of doing a companion book that might give the list some publicity and writers here some broader exposure. I wasn't necessarily thinking an essay for every movie, but perhaps blurbs on site for every movie and 15-20 essays or longer appreciation pieces from community members who have a special attachment to a film on the list (wherever on the list it appears). But I'm just brainstorming at this point. 

What I would suggest here--and I apologize if this is a repeat--but if anyone wants to volunteer to be pointperson for a Top 100 project, please volunteer here, in this thread. My own sense is that there are a number of people interested in participating but most have been understandably hanging back to see whether the project would move forward. So let's see if we can get the ball rolling, or, alternately, if it is too soon to jump into a big board project, whether we want to defer starting a new Top 100 for the time being.

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I would love to see this move forward, and I think a companion book is a great idea - with my current writing commitment, I couldn't be pointperson, but I'd love to contribute a longer essay if the book gets off the ground.

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I have a feeling like I may have to start a new thread for this -- a poll might be helpful, but...

I have exchanged e-mails with the publisher of Faith & Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema (V: 1-3) and they have expressed enthusiasm about doing a book companion to a new Top 100 or Top 25 lists in 2019. 

Before I submit a formal proposal and sign a book contract, I do think there are some unresolved questions brought up by this thread:

1) Should we do a Top 100 or Top 25 in 2019?

2) What is the minimum number of participants we would need to make such a list viable? (I seem to remember one iteration where I was pressured to vote because we were just shy of 200 or 300 or something, but that involved a lot of mass e-mails to those outside board to participate...skimming recent threads there often seemed to be between 40-50, though it's hard for me to imagine we'd have even that many.)

3) Does anyone want to volunteer to be an organizer? I could/would handle the book end, but I'm not sure I have it in me to coordinate a Top 100 list. 

4) When? (I think that the Ecumenical Jury will occupy many people through end of the year, and I have a book MS due to the publisher in January (V2 of Emma book), so it's a little early. But my experience is that if people know something is coming up, they are more likely to plan and participate than if it just springs up. Personally, I'd like to see a process that produces a list in late Spring, early Summer (May/June) so that essays or book chapters could be worked on in summer and Fall, with book coming out around December 2019. Based on other anthologies I've worked on, that may be optimistic, but..

5) Would we want/need some sort of intermediary placement/write up of such a list before the book comes out, or are we content with producing and posting the results here? I have on my "to do" list to chat with new staff at Image to see if they are interested in some sort of association moving forward or if they want to move in a different direction. 

 

Edit: It probably goes without saying that a community project such as Top 100 or a Top 25 is the most likely way of stirring the embers of a low volume site and encouraging a wee bit more traffic. 

Edit: P.S. Not everyone who participates in list would have to participate in a book...I suspect the latter would need between 8-15 people. 

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I'd love to see a Top 100 happen, and I think your proposed timeline is a sound one.  And I'd be willing to be the token atheist contributor for a book that would emerge from this; I find the prospect of something more solid than an internet list (not to demean it) quite exciting.

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1. Yes! If not 2019, then definitely 2020. I suggest a Top 100, especially if there's a book project connection.

2. I shared in this post that it seemed like 44 people had voted in 2010, 65 in 2011. Ken, you may have more access now to better data on voting in the past; I'm basing those numbers on what Anna posted publicly in forum threads. The notion of 200+ participants seems...exaggerated. But perhaps the earlier iterations of the Top 100 list attracted a large number of people.

3. I could possibly help coordinate a list, although it depends on timeline and responsibilities. Evan stated earlier in this thread that he was willing to help (not to volunteer him, just saying!). Edit: If no one else eagerly volunteers, and a list wouldn't happen otherwise, I would gladly step up to coordinate the list-making and make it part of my schedule for 2019.

4. Your timeline sounds reasonable, although an actual published book in about a year's time does sound optimistic/ambitious to me, especially if it's a collaboration. But if it's well-edited and structured (both the book and the list-making process), I think it's totally possible.

5. I don't have much of an opinion on the matter, as long as any future publishing partnership remains true to the A&F spirit, can genuinely spread the word about the list, and is somewhat grounded/sustainable (i.e. we don't have to worry about the website suddenly closing up shop and the list disappears into the dark reaches of the internet).

Edited by Joel Mayward

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3 hours ago, Andrew said:

I'd love to see a Top 100 happen, and I think your proposed timeline is a sound one.  And I'd be willing to be the token atheist contributor for a book that would emerge from this; I find the prospect of something more solid than an internet list (not to demean it) quite exciting.

Has the Top 100 ever had an explicit faith requirement for viewers/voters? I mean "spiritually significant" can mean a lot of different things to different voters/readers. 

Joel:

Quote

4. Your timeline sounds reasonable, although an actual published book in about a year's time does sound optimistic/ambitious to me, especially if it's a collaboration. But if it's well-edited and structured (both the book and the list-making process), I think it's totally possible.

I've done three film anthologies. The first was the longest to put together, for obvious reasons...But there's also the upside that if someone flakes, you can always cut it or find a last minute replacement, and most people are doing a chapter rather than writing a whole book. TImeline doesn't seem unreasonable to me, but I've had to push back deadlines with this publisher before and it wasn't a big deal. Plus...were it the Top 100 rather than a new Top 25, there would be certain parts of it that could be written assigned before completion. I mean, there are a couple of films that I would be confident would be *somewhere* on the list even if I didn't know where. I wouldn't expect a Top 100 book to be comprehensive (an essay for every film), but maybe something like:

I: Introduction (The List and Its History)

--What is it?

--How has it changed over the years.

II What is Spiritually significant?

--General definition.

--Surprise entries/special pleadings/omissions?

III New Essays On Select Films.

But I'm just noodling.
 

 

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4 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Has the Top 100 ever had an explicit faith requirement for viewers/voters? I mean "spiritually significant" can mean a lot of different things to different voters/readers. 

It seems to be that the criteria in the past have been primarily based in involvement at Arts & Faith (i.e. membership length, the number of posts) than affirmation of a particular religious tradition. Personally speaking, an A&F Top 100 list which somehow wouldn't involve Andrew S. (or others who don't identify with a religion) is something I would not be interested in. I think the "spiritually significant" descriptor can be inclusive in this way, and I appreciate Andrew's perspective and film criticism.

On a related note, it's been fascinating for me to research film history and film theory for my PhD and see so much spiritual/soul/faith language used by non-religious or atheist film theorists and philosophers regarding cinema. Bazin is often cited as a key figure in spiritual cinema due to his Catholic faith and how that informs his writings, but even Gilles Deleuze, with his strong atheistic beliefs, often writes about the "spirit" of cinema in his two Cinema books, the invisible transcendent quality of the medium. In this, I hope that an Arts & Faith Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films list can be inviting and uniting around the beautiful mystery that is cinema.

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I'm not aware of a faith requirement for voting either.  My comment was meant partly in earnest (about eagerness to participate) and partly semi-seriously (while I think I'm the only 'out' atheist here, that's never been in issue in participating in A&F Top 25 or 100 lists) - sorry if it didn't come across as such.

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A book project sounds really interesting, especially now that we've done a number of these Top 100 lists and there's some history behind it that we could get into -- evolving tastes or shifting interests or whatever.

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3 hours ago, Andrew said:

I'm not aware of a faith requirement for voting either.  My comment was meant partly in earnest (about eagerness to participate) and partly semi-seriously (while I think I'm the only 'out' atheist here, that's never been in issue in participating in A&F Top 25 or 100 lists) - sorry if it didn't come across as such.

It sorta did. I was slightly alarmed by the "token" comment since it hinted to me that there might be some limitation (of which I was not aware), but I figured it was probably just self-effacing language. 

The last one of these that I participated in, I could have sworn I remember there being a massive e-mail campaign to bring in voters from outside A&F to jack up the number of participants. My concern, I guess, is that it should reflect the A&F site  -- which, of course, includes Andrew. 

I mentioned earlier that what I don't want is some sort of tiered voting based on number of post-counts or longevity at A&F. I guess if I squint I can see how such metrics might indicate a familiarity with the board's historic tastes and values, but they can also be a change-resistant way of excluding new voices, even ones that might be as qualified or more to evaluate the films. I suppose theoretically that means people could register (for the site) just to vote in the list, but I don't know how likely that is to happen or whether that's such a bad thing. 

I do recognize in the conversation above that some lurkers or new participants may feel as though they have less film knowledge. I know, too, the fewer numbers we have the more we could run into the issue of voters not having seen significant portions of the nominated films. But I sense these issues are manageable. 

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Yes, I would still be willing to help organize a top 25 or top 100, by keeping a list of nominated and seconded titles, crunching numbers on votes, soliciting writes-ups, whatever would be needed. I just wouldn't want to do it all alone.

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