Academic journal article CineAction

Long Form Drama/short Subjects

Academic journal article CineAction

Long Form Drama/short Subjects

Article excerpt

Among the many films, both long and short, screened at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, was a BBC production, Southcliffe, directed by Sean Durkin whose last film at TIFF was the highly acclaimed independent film Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011). What made Southcliffe an anomaly at TIFF was that its 190 minute running time was divided up into 4 episodes, thus declaring its status as a 'made-for-TV' series rather than a 'made-for-TV film. This incursion of a previously 'low art' form--television--into a 'high art' form--film--at a self-proclaimed film festival surely signals a tectonic shift in our understanding of what constitutes 'high art' in the 21" century.

Long Form Drama is a term coined to describe the recent shift of interest towards television series of high quality that many consider to have replaced the cinema as a locus of serious adult entertainment. Unfolding over multiple episodes, hours, and even years, these TV shows are seen to provide a content, often dark and difficult, and an innovative style that strain against the conventions of cinema as well as network television. Once considered a cultural wasteland--hence the pejorative nickname the 'boob tube' as TV came to be called in the nineteen sixties--television now attracts some of the best and most innovative writers, directors, and even actors.

Included in this section of the issue are papers on some examples of both critically acclaimed and popular TV series: Meredith Slifkin's insightful look at The Americans situating it within a melodramatic framework; William Bartley's take on the groundbreaking Mad Men from a historical and cultural standpoint; Maria Ionita's positioning of Hannibal as a visually expressive and operatic narrative. …

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