Film Studies

I have developed and taught Film Studies courses for adults at London cinemas, at the Picturehouse Crouch End, the Phoenix and JW3. Through 2020-2021, lectures have run online, with hundreds of international participants joining in. If you’d like me to run a full course or individual lecture at your venue, do get in touch.

Lectures include clips, discussion, hand-out notes and suggestions for further viewing and reading.

You can read participant testimonials here.

Current & Upcoming Courses

The “Jewish American Princess” on Screen: (3 lectures)

Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin

This lecture series will examine the evolution of the Jewish American Princess character-type in Hollywood movies and television series, from its misogynistic origins to unlikely heroines.

Hosted by the Orange County Jewish Community Scholar Program

Tuesdays,  April 13, 20 & 27, 12.30pm PST/ 8.30pm BST

Part 1 (13 April) will discuss the cultural environment which gave rise to the negative stereotype of the Jewish American Princess and look at some early representations in popular culture.

Part 2 (20 April) focuses on the development of the JAP in post-1980s movies, exploring the ways in which female filmmakers have embraced the character with nuance, affection and respect. Key films include Private Benjamin (dir. Howard Zieff, 1980) starring Goldie Hawn; Dirty Dancing (dir. Emile Ardolino, 1987) with Jennifer Grey as Frances Houseman; and Clueless (dir. Amy Heckerling, 1995), in which Alicia Silverstone plays Cher Horowitz.

Part 3 (27 April) will look at depictions of the JAP in post-1990s television series, including Friends, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Broad City and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. I will draw together the themes of the three lectures to ask how our protagonists assert their independence and effect social change? How do the characters portray female power, money and privilege, duty and loyalty, personal responsibility and social conscience? By analysing these movies and series from a feminist perspective, we see how and why JAP heroines might challenge negative stereotypes and provide positive images of Jewish women.

Free to register

More information and sign up here

Shtisel: Freudian Readings of the Hit Israeli Series (2 lectures)

Exploring the first two seasons of Shtisel in light of Freud’s writings about themes of mourning, attachment, death drives and libido. We will discuss the plots and character developments in Shtisel, as well as representations of dreams, memories and desires through a Freudian perspective, enriching our understanding of the emotional drama and its phenomenal audience appeal. 

Hosted by Staten Island Jewish Community Centre

Sundays, April 25 & May 2, 12-1pm EST/ 5-6pm BST

Part 1 on April 25 focuses on Shulem and Akiva, their mourning, romantic relationships and creative libido.
Part 2 on May 2 focuses on mother and daughter Giti and Ruchama, themes of femininity, money and attachment. No prior reading is necessary but familiarity with Shtisel (seasons 1 & 2) is recommended.

Tickets are $12 per lecture / $20 for series. Zoom information to follow registration.

More information and sign up here (scroll down to relevant course):

The Golden Age of Italian Cinema: 1940s-1960s (5 lectures)

Delving into the films that brought audiences around the world to fall in love with Italian cinema. We will look at the politics, style and aesthetics of filmmaking from the 1940s to 1960s, landmark decades that saw new directions in style, aesthetics, storytelling and sexuality on screen.

La dolce vita, 1960

Hosted by Staten Island Jewish Community Centre

Sundays, May 23 – June 27, 12-1pm EST/ 5-6pm BST 
(NB: No class on June 20)

Tickets are $12 per lecture / $50 for series. 

More information and sign up here (scroll down to relevant course):

Course Outline:

Week 1 (May 23). Style and substance: How Italian cinema took the world by storm
Week 2 (May 30). Focus on post-war neorealism
Week 3 (June 6). Masculinity and femininity in Italian Cinema
Week 4 (June 13). Antonioni: Aesthetics and alienation
Week 5 (June 27). Fellini: Maestro of Fantasy and memory

The Second World War on Film (4 lectures)

*booking opens soon*

The events of World War II have since inspired countless films, but how did filmmaking in the 1940s inform, influence and persuade audiences during the war years?

Rome, Open City, 1945

This course explores various kinds of wartime filmmaking, including documentary, newsreel, drama and comedy. Through analysing key films and their associated artistic movements and cultural contexts, we can see how contemporary attitudes were shaped and reflected by film.

Hosted by the Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre

Wednesdays, June 30 – July 21, 6.30-7.45pm BST

More information and sign up to receive updates: here (booking opening soon)

Course Outline

Week 1. Documentary and Propaganda

The first session explores the United States Department of War’s epic documentary series, Why We Fight, initially made to educate and persuade soldiers as they entered war. Directed mostly by Frank Capra (who went on to direct Hollywood hits including It’s a Wonderful Life), the seven-part series was distributed to the public, with an estimated 54 million Americans viewing the films in the war years. This lecture asks how the style and content of the documentary responds to Nazi propaganda films, analysing the emotive and persuasive techniques employed to inform and persuade viewers.

Recommended viewing:

Why We Fight: Prelude to War (dir. Frank Capra, USA, 1942)

Week 2. Newsreel and British documentary

In the UK, Government sponsored films proliferated, reaching out to update and inform the public, encouraging the war effort. Building on the British Documentary Movement that developed in the 1930s, documentary filmmakers were employed to cover the impact of war on British society. Today, the British Film Institute’s BFIPlayer offers a vast collection of newly digitised footage, enabling immersion into the styles and attitudes of wartime filmmaking. This lecture delves into the online archive, asking how patriotism and notions of British sentiment are played out on screen, exploring the narrative and documentary techniques evident in the films.

Recommended viewing:

London Can Take It! (dir. Harry Watt and Humphrey Jennings, UK, 1940. 9 minutes)

Victory Parade (prod. Colonial Film Unit, UK, 1946. 21 minutes)

Week 3. Dramatic Innovations in Italian Neorealism
Italian neorealism emerged in the immediate aftermath of the tumultuous war years, despite the country’s devastation and scarcity of filmmaking resources. Through considering the specificity of Italian filmmaking in the 1940s, this lecture asks how film reflects the political and artistic shifts from Fascism to the 1943 Allied Invasion – and the necessity to make emotionally powerful dramatic films in almost impossible circumstances.

Recommended viewing:

Rome Open City (dir. Roberto Rossellini, Italy, 1945)

Week 4. Drama and Comedy: How effectively can war be dramatised?

As in pre-war years, cinema continued to be a place of entertainment and escape through World War II. Film production included thrillers, romance and comedy, offer differing perspectives on the ways in which society at war can be presented. This lecture examines how genre conventions heighten audience engagement and response, analysing the effectiveness of dramatic tension and comedy for emotional expression.

Recommended viewing:
The Great Dictator (dir. Charlie Chaplin, 1940)

Previous Courses

Jewish Film:A new online course hosted by the JCC Staten Island ( JCC website here), open to all. This 5-week course explores representations of Jewish experience & culture on screen, from the origins of cinema to today. Sundays 5-6pm (UK time); 12-1pm EST (NY time) from 3 January 2021 (with a break on 24 Jan.) Lectures via Zoom and include clips and discussion.

Politics, Protest and Propaganda six-week course at the Picturehouse Crouch End, Tuesday evenings, October-November 2019

Film Studies: Exploring the history, style and culture of cinema

For film fans, culture lovers and absolute beginners! The course explores the birth of cinema, major movements and genres through lectures and discussion, with plenty of film clips. Presented at JW3 and the Phoenix Cinema.

Week 1. The Marvellous Birth of Cinema
Week 2. Art and Ideology in German and Soviet Cinema
Week 3. The Golden Age of Hollywood: Studios and Genres
Week 4. European Post-War Movements: Neorealism and the New Wave
Week 5. The Rise of Feminist Filmmakers
Week 6. Blockbusters, British Cinema and VHS
Week 7. Dogme and Documentary: Independent Cinema Movements
Week 8. Digital Cinema and New Technologies

Previous participants say:

“A brilliant introduction to the history of cinema”
“I can thoroughly recommend it”
“It was perfect!”

The Golden Age of Italian Cinema, 1940s-1960s

Week 1. Style and substance: How Italian cinema took the world by storm
Week 2 Focus on postwar neorealism.
Week 3. Masculinity and femininity in Italian Cinema
Week 4. Antonioni: Aesthetics and alienation.
Week 5. Fellini: Fantasy and memory

Protest and Propaganda: Exploring cinema’s power of persuasion

Week 1. Persuasion and resistance: Newsreel, documentary and fiction films in wartimes
Week 2. Comedy and horror: Exploring political allegory in genre films
Week 3. Politicians on film: The styles, subjects and appeal of political biopics
Week 4. Rights, fights and minority voices: Representing political struggle and raise consciousness
Week 5. Exposé and outrage: How do subversive documentaries probe and expose people in power?

Jewish Film

Including classic Hollywood noir and musicals; Holocaust films; Israeli cinema; Jewish masculinity and femininity – schlemiels and comediennes.

Week 1. Early silent film and classic Hollywood noir, comedy and musicals
Week 2. Holocaust films: What are the major movements, and ethical considerations, of representations of the Holocaust?
Week 3. Israeli cinema: nation building and cultural identity
Week 4. Jewish masculinity on screen: heroes and schlemiels
Week 5. “I’ll have what she’s having”: Trailblazers and comediennes – Jewish women in film