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kenmorefield

CFP: Spiritually Significant: Essays on the Arts & Faith Top 100 Films

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I received word today from my publisher that they have sent out a contract for an anthology of essays on the Top 100. More details to follow, and a more detailed Call For Papers, but keep this in mind as we are hammering out dates and such. 

The nature of the this contract is under a program where they use their network to put out Calls for Paper for people who have contacted them interested in contributing to an ongoing publication but not quite ready to do a whole book or project. They try to pair them with projects that have a certain mass but may not have enough contributors. I mention that as a way of saying, if you are interested, please be sensitive to the differences between "I'm interested [but we'll see when the deadline rolls around...]" and "Yeah, I'd like to do this."

Obviously....stuff happens, and people can intend to do something and be prevented from it. I get that. But having edited or co-edited a number of anthologies and been a contributor to others, I can tell you that nothing sucks the life out of a project faster than the guy (or woman) for whom you hold a spot and then says, "Well, I meant to get around to this but I got busy with other things...."

In the publishing setting, sometimes two or more people can pitch the same angle (or director or film) and nothing is quite as disheartening as turning down a good proposal in favor of a slightly better one and then losing both because the better one doesn't deliver.

For that reason, among others, if you are thinking about contributing or submitting a chapter proposal but aren't ready to commit, I nevertheless encourage you to voice your preferred subject. This will help me know what other topics I might need to solicit from people outside the forum, avoid duplicate entries, and spur ideas or feedback. 

Assuming I don't have to write the overview (or perhaps even if I do), I'm thinking about writing about The Exorcist (assuming it makes the cut) or The Godfather (ditto) or both. But I'm also tempted to write a piece about the changes between the 2011 and 2020 lists. 

FWIW, it isn't binding, but I pitched the project as having three sections: examining terms and definitions (what makes a film "spiritually significant"; themes from among multiple films (postmodernism, modernsim, trauma, explicit depictions of religion, cultural differences, etc.), and long takes at one or more particular films. I don't particularly want special pleadings ("x should have been on the list!"), at least not as stand-alone essays, though there might be some of that in broader essays from sections 1 or 2.

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I am definitely in for this book project, and I could contribute more than one entry/chapter, if that's a possibility. I'm very interested in writing on what "spiritually significant" means for both the list and for cinema as a whole, especially in light of our community's ongoing discussion about it. I'd also be happy to write about any Dardenne brothers films which make the list, but I'm also interested in potential themes that may emerge from the final Top 100, particularly around memory or time.

Ken, do you want us to submit formal abstracts or proposals to you, or (as you mentioned above) are we to send them to the publisher?

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Ken, do you have a time frame for this yet?  I very much want to contribute, but my work schedule (the stuff that pays the bills, not writing reviews) will be sorta chaotic for the next few months, due to COVID unpredictability.


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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I'm 90% in... and I'll be 100% in once I have a better feel for your expected timeline, the final list of 100 films, etc. I'm open to writing about Aronofsky or potentially other films on the list.

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So the contract has been issued but is floating somewhere over the Atlantic or trapped in some English decontamination zone. 

Typically, they ask me to set a date when filling out the contract, so there is some flexibility in that area. I have a separate book manuscript, mostly of reprinted material due at the end of January 2021, so I'd hope a project of this sort would be either be wrapped by end of summer (probably a pipe dream) or able to extends to Summer 2021 , even though that's significantly after the list will be done.

I have some flexibility.

I should probably say, though I assume everyone knows this, that books like this (at least ones that I write/edit) don't make any real money. If it did make any roytalties, my intention would be to use them to defray operating costs at A&F, but every now and then I get a comment from a previous contributor to some academic project or another talking about how they never received a dime for their contribution. I'll always make sure contributors to stuff I edit get a free copy, even if I have to go out of pocket for that, but my own compensation is usually in the form of professional advancement (i.e. promotion and tenure) rather than massive checks from publishers printing massive copies to be used in Intro to Film classes.

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I am definitely interested in contributing a chapter, but will wait to see what makes the list.

Preliminary possibilities - I could easily write about musicals on the list, and I'd be happy to write about whichever Gerwig film(s) make the cut too.


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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8 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

I should probably say, though I assume everyone knows this, that books like this (at least ones that I write/edit) don't make any real money. If it did make any roytalties, my intention would be to use them to defray operating costs at A&F, but every now and then I get a comment from a previous contributor to some academic project or another talking about how they never received a dime for their contribution. I'll always make sure contributors to stuff I edit get a free copy, even if I have to go out of pocket for that, but my own compensation is usually in the form of professional advancement (i.e. promotion and tenure) rather than massive checks from publishers printing massive copies to be used in Intro to Film classes.

Thanks for your openness about this. FWIW, my assumption has always been that book royalties would primarily contribute to keeping the A&F website going. And for my own personal academic pursuits, it's nice to have a line or two of publications added to one's CV. :)  But yeah, I'm under no illusion that we'll be making loads of money from book sales, unless somehow a list of essays about "Spiritually Significant Films" suddenly resonates with the wider cultural zeitgeist.

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I would love to carve some time out for this. I like the way you have split up the volume into three sections, which allows for a pretty broad range of contributions.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Hi all...the contract arrived today. Still reading over it, but below are some pertinent points:

  • I am expected to write the foreword, though I expect there is room in this format for essays that are broad in scope. 
  • I need to submit to publisher the number of essays/chapters I want included so that they know how many additional chapters to solicit. That means people who are interested could either pitch me (before I turn in the contract) or the publisher (after I turn in the contract). I might not have final say if I want a chapter included and they don't, though I suspect they'll might ask me for my input depending on the number of submission through the publisher. (I am seeking clarification on that point before finalizing contract.)
  • They have indicated they prefer a faster timeline, though ultimately that is determined by when submissions accumulate. So if this is something you are interested in, be ready to submit a proposal in May. The papers themselves can take a little longer, but the longer you wait the more likely they are to finalize the contents and ask me to do the introduction.

The is less creative control than some of my previous books with same publisher, but the upside is that I am not responsible for soliciting papers nor editing submissions.

 

 

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Thanks for keeping us posted, Ken. I'm interested (can't yet say "I'm in.") in writing an essay on environmental themes in connection with spirituality running through at least a couple dozen nominated films, several of which I'm guessing will make the Top 100. I could also write an essay focused on First Reformed.

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I sent the contract back yesterday, so there should be a book unless there are not enough submissions to warrant it.

I went with the publisher's "Guest Editor" program which is convenient for me but may be less so for others. The differences between this and other anthologies I have edited is:

--The publisher makes a Call For Paper and reviews the response.

--The also edit and proofread.

--I do the introduction and a chapter of my own (if I wish).
--I cannot guarantee a submission will be included. (In other iterations, such as Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema, I gathered all the papers or proposals before hand and submitted the prospective contents before it went under contract. Here I just submit the subject of the book and agree to write the introduction.)

--The publisher will review proposals, but they will approve final papers. Thus there is an incentive to write it first, because if you submit a proposal, there will be no guarantee they will hold a spot if enough chapters come in. 

I suggested mid-May to post the CFP. The upside is that people don't have to commit to me if they are thinking about it. They can wait as long as they want to right the chapter. Also, the turn around will be significantly shorter, I expect. The downside is that there isn't as much time to research or write laboriously. So if you think you may want to submit, be ready to move in Mid-May. (If you are confident a theme or film will be included, maybe even start writing now; I am.) 

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Thanks for the update, Ken. I am assuming that the Top 100 list itself will be included in the book somewhere, yes? Do you have contact info for the publisher or knowledge of where they'll post a CFP? And any idea about formatting or style?

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I recommended posting the CFP after the list was complete. 
Here is a link to their MS guidelines, though I'm not clear if contributions have to be in that format since one thing I did as editor was cut/paste into template of correct font/margins/etc.

Main thing is no footnotes (endnotes are okay, though I don't particularly like them)

https://www.cambridgescholars.com/policies/M2 Manuscript guidelines.pdf

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I e-mailed the publisher today to let them know there was a delay in posting the list itself. I've already signed the contract, but I think it makes more sense to hold off on the Call for Papers until the list itself is published. In the meantime, here is a file of contributor format guidelines for anyone thinking about submitting a paper:

https://www.cambridgescholars.com/policies/M8 Referencing and ProofReading Guide.pdf

 

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So, I had been planning to submit a chapter on typology and "Christ Figures," which I guess is still possible. But the absence of The Silence of the Lambs hurt that a little.

My fall-back was the long-noodled piece on The Godfather as spiritually significant, but...

So I'm sitting with the list and hoping something will jump out at me in the next two weeks or so. If not, I can always just write the intro, but it would be nice to do a chapter. 

Maybe something about documentary and if/when the qualities that lend itself to 'spiritually significant" are different than in narrative film or experimental? 

I'm taking a hard look at Calvary since By the Grace of God did not make it and the idea of film as speaking to corporate rather than individual trauma. (Act of Killing/I Am Not Your Negro/Night and Fog) would all speak to that. 

I think an essay pairing First Reformed and The Man Who Planted Trees would have potential, but based on my conference last year, I think there is going to be a *lot* of stuff written about First Reformed in the next 5-10 years....

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I know how you feel, I was formulating an essay on vocation and the drive to create art in the midst of a changing world, relating to the idea "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans," as can be seen through Singin' in the Rain, Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and All That Jazz, but alas.

My fallback was to write about the spirituality of either Lady Bird or Through a Glass Darkly...

Maybe there's an angle on The Red Shoes and Amadeus about turning art into an idol that destroys someone? I'll have to think about it.


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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24 minutes ago, Evan C said:

I know how you feel, I was formulating an essay on vocation and the drive to create art in the midst of a changing world, relating to the idea "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans," as can be seen through Singin' in the Rain, Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and All That Jazz, but alas.

 

Amazing Grace? Other films that might fit that, broadly, that jump to mind: Babette's Feast, The Man Who Planted Trees...maybe even A Moment of Innocence?

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Ken, since 7th Heaven and The Immigrant made the cut, I might be interested in writing something about expressionist American melodrama, also pulling in Sunrise, Frisco Jenny, and possibly other films like The Best Years of Our Lives, The Grapes of Wrath, The Song of Bernadette, and others. I'm seriously considering jumping into a grad program this summer, so I should know soon if I'll have time for serious writing.

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On 5/23/2020 at 4:54 PM, Darren H said:

Ken, since 7th Heaven and The Immigrant made the cut, I might be interested in writing something about expressionist American melodrama, also pulling in Sunrise, Frisco Jenny, and possibly other films like The Best Years of Our Lives, The Grapes of Wrath, The Song of Bernadette, and others. I'm seriously considering jumping into a grad program this summer, so I should know soon if I'll have time for serious writing.

Sounds good. Keep in mind that since I went with the "guest editor" option rather than the full editor (so I didn't have to recruit ALL the chapters or do the proofreading), I won't have the final say on submissions. Also, once they drop the CFP, it will probably remain open until they have enough submissions. So it could be awhile or it could be pretty quick.
 

 

 

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I am considering writing on what I am tentatively calling a "new wave in religious cinema," focusing on some of the films which are more directly and overtly "religious" (mainly Christian) on our list from the 2010s: The Tree of Life, Silence, First Reformed, Calvary, Of Gods and Men, and perhaps Selma and This Is Martin Bonner. I'd try to focus on films which would/could not have appeared on previous iterations of the Top 100 list. It seems to me that parallel to the rise of the "faith-based film" in American cinema following the popularity of The Passion of the Christ, there has been an increased interest in artful cinematic depictions of Christianity and Christian theology/spirituality which has been more evocative, contemplative, and even critical of traditional religious views or practices. I'd hope to address some films which didn't make our final list here too: Ida, A Hidden Life, Last Days in the Desert, The Innocents, maybe even Spotlight and Hail, Caesar!. I think this would be less of a deep dive into individual films and more a thematic approach noting similarities/differences between these films, and perhaps speculate as to where this renewed interest in overtly religious-but-not-faith-based film is emerging from in our social imagination. There is a category observed in film studies and film-philosophy called "postsecular cinema," and this is somewhat similar to the postsecular—religious films which aren't traditionally "religious" in a very particular way, kind of like the piece I wrote on Silence for Bright Wall/Dark Room.

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I'd like to write on spiritually signifiant cinema in East Asia, especially in the twenty-first century, and what non-theistic or atheistic (in the PRC) cinema looks like and how we can parse the deep spirituality of someone like Jia. But I'd also talk about Tsai, Apichatpong, Yang, and Koreeda.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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I mentioned in another thread, I'm currently thinking hard about doing an essay broadly or indirectly about "auteur theory," particularly thinking about Top 100 perennials -- The Apostle, Tender Mercies that we don't associate with "auteurs." Might also want to fold in It's a Wonderful Life (is it on the list because it is a Capra film?) and A Man for All Seasons (is Zinnemann an auteur?).

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22 minutes ago, kenmorefield said:

I mentioned in another thread, I'm currently thinking hard about doing an essay broadly or indirectly about "auteur theory," particularly thinking about Top 100 perennials -- The Apostle, Tender Mercies that we don't associate with "auteurs." 

Just a parenthetical aside, but doesn't it seem like Bruce Beresford dropped off cinephile radar?  In the 80s and 90s, he had a number of well-regarded, understated dramas: Black Robe, Tender Mercies, Breaker Morant.  And I see from IMDb that he's still making films, but I don't think I've seen one since the early 90s.


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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39 minutes ago, Anders said:

I'd like to write on spiritually signifiant cinema in East Asia, especially in the twenty-first century, and what non-theistic or atheistic (in the PRC) cinema looks like and how we can parse the deep spirituality of someone like Jia. But I'd also talk about Tsai, Apichatpong, Yang, and Koreeda.

Okay, now I really want to read this. Please write it.

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I heard back from the publisher last week, they have had some delays creating the CFP due to COVID 19, but are still planning to proceed. I will post the CFP when I get it.

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