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Watching the Classics

Watching the Classics – ‘The 1970s, The 1980s: Decades of Transition’

Start date:
Apr 29, 2024
Ability Level:
All Levels

A monthly online lecture series with Professor Richard Peña

Doha Film Institute is delighted to present ‘Watching the Classics’, an online programme where filmmakers and cinephiles can deepen their knowledge of film history. Presented by renowned scholar Richard Peña—Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University and Director Emeritus of the New York Film Festival—this series of lectures/discussions each focuses on an undisputed world cinema classic.

In the monthly sessions, Professor Peña will present a given film within its aesthetic, economic, technological and social/political context, detailing each director’s formal techniques while teasing out the implications of these artistic and technical decisions.

To get the most from the programme, participants are recommended to view the selected films before each session, and all are readily available through various popular streaming services. During the lecture, select images and clips will be included for discussion, and participants will be able to send Professor Peña questions, which will be addressed at the end of each session.

Join us for this chance to revisit some of your favourite films—or to discover works that have helped change the course of film history.

‘The 1970s, The 1980s: Decades of Transition’
Lecture Series Introduction by Professor Richard Peña

“History” rarely organises itself in neatly circumscribed, decades-long segments: tendencies that flower in one period were often already present in an earlier period—while many aspects associated with one era continue long after. Nevertheless, after the extraordinary creative fervour of the Sixties and before the digitalisation of cinema in the Nineties, one can truly see the Seventies and Eighties as decades of transition: no longer the essential audio-visual storytelling medium—having been de-throned by television—the cinema sought new ways of reaching audiences and organising its production.

New voices began to emerge: the Hindi commercial cinema, sometimes condescendingly called “Bollywood,” emerged as a major export cinema, taking over markets long abandoned by Hollywood. Filmmaking in Africa, long stifled due to colonialism, became one of the era’s most important developments, whereas films from both the People’s Republic of China and Australia were now seen at international film festivals as well as in art houses.

In the USA, the studios’ move to the “blockbuster strategy”, in which they produced far fewer films but marketed them more aggressively than ever, opened a space for waves of independently produced films that addressed the lives and concerns of many groups absent from American screens. In short, the Seventies and Eighties proved decades in which the fears over what had happened to the cinema, as well as concerns as what was to come, created an unsettled, turbulent atmosphere that sparked many works whose impact would long be felt across the international cinema.

Join us for this survey of some of the most influential and challenging works of the 1970s and 1980s, the decades that, in so many ways, laid the groundwork for the cinema today.

This nine-part series, ‘The 1970s, The 1980s: Decades of Transition’, will explore a cinematic period of transition, analysing some of its major trends and tendencies as well as offering discussions of some of its most emblematic works. Each session will feature an in-depth analysis of one particular film—highlighted directors include R.W. Fassbinder, Steven Spielberg, Ramesh Sippy, Souleymane Cissé, Chen Kaige, Gus Van Sant, Vasily Pichul, and Jane Campion.

Lecture Fee: 50 QAR per session
Language: English
Online Platform: Zoom Webinar

This programme is open to applicants over the age of 18. The sessions are best suited for those with some knowledge of filmmaking and who wish to expand their understanding of film history.

Registration Process:

  • To register and secure your place, purchase a ticket online to this event by clicking the link next to each session below.
  • You will receive the webinar registration link in the payment confirmation document.
  • Your Zoom webinar invite will then be sent after completing the registration form linked to the payment confirmation PDF.

Dates and Registration

Session Date Featured Film Registration Link
1 29 April 2024 Martha, 1974, R.W. Fassbinder, West Germany Closed
2 27 May 2024 The Mouth Agape, 1974, Maurice Pialat, France Closed
3 1 July 2024 Jaws, 1975, Steven Spielberg, USA Register Now
4 29 July 2024 Sholay, 1975, Ramesh Sippy, India Coming soon
5 26 August 2024 The Wind, 1982, Souleymane Cissé, Mali Coming soon
6 30 September 2024 Yellow Earth, 1985, Chen Kaige, PRC Coming soon
7 28 October 2024 Mala Noche, 1985, Gus Van Sant, USA Coming soon
8 25 November 2024 Little Vera, 1987, Vasily Pichul, USSR Coming soon
9 TBC January 2025 Sweetie, 1989, Jane Campion, Australia Coming soon

Richard Peña
Richard Peña was the Programme Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival from 1988 until 2012. At the Film Society, Peña organised retrospectives of many film artists, as well as major film series devoted to numerous national cinemas. Together with Unifrance, in 1995, he created Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the leading American showcase for new French cinema. He is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Columbia University, where he specialises in film theory and international cinema and has served as a Visiting Professor at the Sorbonne, Beijing University, UNAM-Mexico City and the University of São Paulo. He also currently hosts WNET/Channel 13’s weekly ‘Reel 13’.