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This list relates to the 2017-18 which ended on 18/08/2018
  1. General Reading 11 items
    1. Film theory and criticism: introductory readings - Leo Braudy, Marshall Cohen 2009

      Book  A highly useful collection of major work and key texts in film theory. Although most of the essays in Braudy and Cohen are abbreviated, the book is nevertheless a standard classroom text in the field, and you will find it useful over the course of your career.

    2. Film theory: an introduction through the senses - Thomas Elsaesser, Malte Hagener 2015

      Book  A relatively recent book, which sets out to rethink historical film theory under the new umbrella topic of the senses (see week 10): i.e., cinema as eye, ear, skin and so on. This is a highly relevant book for current thinking about theory. Given its intention to challenge traditional accounts of the history of film theory, the book is best read as a supplement to the module.

    3. Concepts in film theory - Andrew, Dudley 1984

      Book 

    4. Film Studies: Critical Approaches [= The Oxford guide to film studies] - John Hill, Pamela Church Gibson 1998

      Book  A structured collection with informative essays on various methods and approaches in film studies today. Blend of theories and topics.

    5. Francesco Casetti's work [see below] is erudite and thoughtful, and will give you a fine appreciation of the ways theory can be applied to a wide range of films and other cultural expressions.
      The Eye of the Century is a lucid account of film and modernity (see weeks 1-3). The Lumière Galaxy, his latest book, asks where film theory-and film experience-might be headed at a time when cinema is "relocated" from movie theaters to digital screens (see week 11).

    6. Theories of cinema, 1945-1995 - Francesco Casetti 1999

      Book 

    7. For additional guidance when writing your essay, you might want to refer to:

  2. ---THEORISING A NEW MEDIUM---

  3. Week 1: Introduction 14 items
    Walter Benjamin wrote several landmark essays on film and modernity in a period of intense cultural and political turmoil. Writing just before and during the Nazi takeover of Germany, Benjamin was a key thinker affiliated with the influential Frankfurt School. Benjamin held out for the revolutionary dimension of mass culture, arguing that it could both reveal and transfigure the actual conditions of modern life, giving a symbolic and life fulfilling expression of a potential world of human possibility. In addition to Marx, he was strongly influenced by Surrealism and Dadaism, influence that comes to the fore in his 1936 essay, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of its Technical Reproducibility.’ Still, he was well aware of the dangers of mass media, especially when used for propaganda purposes, and predicted the way the media, and film in particular, would be employed for destructive political ends. The ‘Work of Art’ essay, perhaps the most famous essay in the entire critical literature of film, is an exceptionally wide ranging work that touches on most all of the topics that we will study over the course of the term.
    1. Required Film 1 item
      1. Modern Times - Charlie Chaplin 1936 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

    2. Required Reading 2 items
    3. Recommended Reading: 5 items
      1. The cinematic - Campany, David 2007

        Book 

      2. After the great divide: modernism, mass culture, postmodernism - Andreas Huyssen 1986

        Book  Available in the Library and as an e-book

    4. Recommended Films: 6 items
      1. Sherlock Jr. (The Buster Keaton chronicles: Disc 3) - Keaton, Buster 1924 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Three songs about Lenin - Dziga Vertov 1924 (dvd)

        Book 

      3. La jetée - Chris Marker 1962 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      4. Boudu saved from drowning - Jean Renoir 1932 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. À nous la liberté - René Clair 1931 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

  4. Week 2: Cinema and Mass Culture 15 items
    This week will study cinema’s relationship to mass culture by focusing on the writings of two important critical theorists: Siegfried Kracauer and Theodor Adorno, both of whom were close associates of Walter Benjamin. Our focus will be on Kracauer’s brief and complex essay on the ‘mass ornament’ and Adorno’s critique of the culture industry. As with Kracauer’s ‘Mass Ornament’, the project from which Adorno text, ‘Culture Industry Reconsidered,’ departs—the Dialectic of Enlightenment—is a critique of Enlightenment rationality and the popular forms of entertainment that emerge from it. Along with Benjamin’s artwork essay, these texts share an interest in cinema’s ability to reshape the spectator’s perceptual horizons and to communicate ways to live in the modern world. These are writers interested in what cinema does and how it expresses and shapes modernity in the early part of the 20th Century. As well as reflecting on the approaches of Kracauer and Adorno, we will focus on the specific genre of the musical to understand both utopian and ideological tendencies of mass culture, following Richard Dyer’s discussion of the genre in his essay, ‘Entertainment and Utopia.’
    1. Required Film 1 item
      1. Gold diggers of 1933 - LeRoy, Mervyn 1933 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

    2. Required Reading: 3 items
      1. Culture Industry Reconsidered - Theodor W. Adorno and Anson G. Rabinbach 1975

        Article 

      2. The Mass Ornament - Siegfried Kracauer

        Chapter  Digitised.

      3. Entertainment and Utopia - Richard Dyer

        Chapter  Digitised.

    3. Recommended Reading: 5 items
      1. The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception - Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer

        Chapter  Digitised.

      2. The Little Shopgirls Go to the Movies - Siegfried Kracauer

        Chapter  Digitised.

      3. Siegfried Kracauer: an introduction - Koch, Gertrud, Gaines, Jeremy 2000

        Book 

    4. Recommended Films: 6 items
      1. Triumph of the Will - Leni Riefenstahl 1935 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Artists and models - Tashlin, Frank 1955 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      3. They live - John Carpenter 2002 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      4. Shijie / The world - Zhang Ke Jia 2005 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. Marie Antoinette - Sofia Coppola 2006 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

  5. Week 3: Traces of the Real - André Bazin 16 items
    This week we will examine the notion of realism and consider whether cinema can ever capture the ‘real’. We will explore the possibility that there are various kinds of realism, relating film to other art forms, and considering the stylistic techniques that may enhance this, following three foundational theorists of cinematic realism: André Bazin, Siegfried Kracauer, and Stanley Cavell. Our work here will expand on ideas from the previous week (Kracauer) as well as previous modules (You may recall Bazin from the discussions in FM2001 on the French New Wave). Looking at ontological, phenomenological and technological definitions of cinematic realism, we will ask how cinema both satisfies and frustrates the desire to conjure realities situated between screen and spectator, past and present, history and fiction, world and film.
    1. Required Film 1 item
      1. La grande illusion - Jean Renoir 1937 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

    2. Required Reading: 3 items
      1. From what is cinema? - André Bazin

        Chapter  Includes 'The Ontology of the Photographic Image', 'Myth of Total Cinema' and ‘De Sica: Metteur-en-scène’ (digitised).

      2. Basic Concepts - Siegfried Kracauer

        Chapter 

      3. Automatism - Stanley Cavell

        Chapter 

    3. Recommended Reading: 7 items
      1. What is cinema? - André Bazin, trans. Hugh Gray 2005

        Book  Volumes I and II. [Available in the Library and as an e-book]

      2. André Bazin - Andrew, Dudley 1978

        Book 

      3. Cavell on film - Stanley Cavell 2005

        Book 

    4. Recommended Films: 5 items
      1. Paisan - Rossellini, Roberto 1946 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Pather Panchali - Satyajit Ray 1955 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      3. Sweet sixteen - Ken Loach 2002 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      4. Vidas secas/Barren Lives - Nelson Pereira dos Santos 1963 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. La haine - Kassovitz, Mathieu 1995 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 


  6. ---CONFRONTING CINEMA'S SPELL---

  7. Week 4: Semiotics and Psychoanalysis 16 items
    Whereas realism championed cinema’s ability to let reality show itself unfiltered, theorists in the nineteen-sixties and seventies were convinced that the cinema shapes our experience in more systematic ways. To show this, they sought to recast theory as a science of cinematic signs, drawing in the process on established forms of theoretical knowledge such as semiotics, Marxism and psychoanalysis. These frameworks provided powerful tools for thinking about narrative cinema’s unique ability to generate pleasure, as well as an ethos of ‘unmasking’ the signifying mechanisms that shape the spectator’s experience in cinema. No one adopted this task more meticulously than Christian Metz. Though Metz began as a semiotician, he soon turned to psychoanalysis in an effort to adapt its key conceptual tools to a systematic understanding of cinema as a pleasure-machine. This week, we will examine Metz’s key work The Imaginary Signifier (1977) to understand how it proposed to analyze cinema’s pleasures as a psychoanalyst might—or in Metz’s terms to ‘disengage the cinema-object from the imaginary and to win it for the symbolic’.
    1. Required Film 1 item
      1. Peeping Tom - Michael Powell 1960 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

    2. Required Reading 2 items
      1. Leaving the Movie Theater - Roland Barthes

        Chapter 

    3. Recommended Readings 6 items
      1. Suture - Kaja Silverman

        Chapter 

    4. Recommended Films 6 items
      1. Psycho - Alfred Hitchcock 1960 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Rear Window - Alfred Hitchcock 1954 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      3. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser - Werner Herzog 1973 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      4. A short film about love - Krzysztof Kiesĺowski 1988 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. The red shoes - Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger 1948 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      6. Dressed to kill - Brian De Palma 1980 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

  8. Week 5: The System of Gender 12 items
    This week we will look at the connections between psychoanalysis, gender and spectatorship through a key critical text in film theory and one of the films that inspired it. Through the text and film, we will examine the ways in which classical film style proves not only a fertile ground for feminist analysis, but also a problematic area for the theorization of the female spectator. Given that Mulvey, like others we have read this term (e.g. Benjamin, Kracauer), has structured her essay into sections, outline it for yourself, summarizing her main point in each section to see how she develops her argument. In particular, think about what the implications of her argument are for thinking about editing, point-of- view, and identification in classical Hollywood style. When watching Vertigo, consider to what extent Mulvey’s critique helps illuminate aspects of the film beyond its purely narrative values and also makes a feminist enjoyment of Hitchcock’s work difficult.
    1. Required Film 1 item
      1. Vertigo - Alfred Hitchcock 1958 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

    2. Required Reading: 1 item
      1. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema - Laura Mulvey

        Chapter  Digitised.

    3. Recommended Reading: 5 items
      1. A feminist reader in early cinema - Bean, Jennifer M., Negra, Diane 2002

        Book 

      2. Re-vision: essays in feminist film criticism - Doane, Mary Ann, Mellencamp, Patricia, Williams, Linda 1984

        Book 

      3. Is the Gaze Male? - E. Ann Kaplan

        Chapter  Digitised.

    4. Recommended Films: 5 items
      1. Blonde Venus - Von Sternberg, Josef 1932 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Rebecca - Hitchcock, Alfred 1940 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      3. Duel in the sun - Vidor, King 1946 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      4. Marnie - Hitchcock, Alfred 1694 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles - Akerman, Chantal 1975 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

  9. Week 6: What is an Apparatus? 18 items
    Apparatus theory is one of the less difficult theories to summarise, since it starts from a very concrete question: How do the physical space of movie theatres contribute to the power of film over spectators? And yet, few key terms have been as fraught with confusion as that of ‘apparatus’, starting with confusions of translation (since the English term ‘apparatus’ was in fact used to translate two key French terms: appareil and dispositif). This week will be divided into two sections. The first lecture will examine the origins of ‘apparatus theory’ in the writings of Jean-Louis Baudry in the aftermath of 1968. We will situate Baudry’s seminal intervention within the political culture of its time, while also asking how his model relates to modes of filmmaking both past (e.g. Soviet montage) and contemporaneous (e.g. the Cinétracts movement in Paris or the ‘expanded cinema’ movement in Vienna). The second lecture will then ask about the legacy of apparatus theory and its use-value today, at a time when traditional movie theatres are probably the least likely place for most people to consume film and media. In this context, as we will see, the distinction between apparatus and dispositif has once again come to the fore.
    1. Required Film 1 item
      1. La chinoise - Jean-Luc Godard 1967 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

    2. Required Reading: 2 items
    3. Recommended Reading: 8 items
      1. The society of the spectacle - Guy Debord [1967] 1995

        Book 

      2. The 1900 Episteme - François Albera, Maria Tortajada

        Chapter 

      3. Docile Bodies - Michel Foucault

        Chapter  Digitised.

    4. Recommended Films: 7 items
      1. Cinétracts 1-41 - Various filmmakers 1968-1969

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Inextinguishable Fire - Harun Farocki 1969

        Audio-visual document 

      3. Touch Cinema - Valie Export 1968

        Audio-visual document 

      4. The Matrix - Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski 1999 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. Minority report - Spielberg, Steven 2003 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      6. Dreams rewired - Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart, Thomas Tode 2015 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

  10. Week 7: Feminism Beyond Mulvey 26 items
    This week we’ll explore the wider landscape of feminist film studies building on and beyond Laura Mulvey’s inescapably crucial ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’. The psychoanalytic approach invites critique and interrogation and the works we’ll read (and watch) will provide additional avenues for analysis and issues for reconsideration.
    1. Required Films 2 items
      1. The watermelon woman - Cheryle Dunye 2003 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Inside Amy Schumer: Season 3 - Ryan McFaul 2015 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document  Selected clips

    2. Required Reading: 3 items
      1. Feminism and Film - Patricia White

        Chapter  Digitised.

    3. Recommended Reading 10 items
      1. Multiple copies of the 1st edition print book are also available in the Library:

      2. Women's Cinema as Counter-Cinema - Claire Johnston

        Chapter  Digitised.

      3. Women's cinema, world cinema: projecting contemporary feminisms - Patricia White 2015

        Book  Introduction, pp. 1-27

    4. Recommended Viewing: 11 items
      1. Antonia's line - Marleen Gorris 1995 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Appropriate behaviour - Desiree Akhavan 2014 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      3. Pariah - Dee Rees 2012 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      4. Caramel - Nadine Labaki 2007 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. The Owls - Cheryl Dunye 2011 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      6. Daughters of the dust - Julie Dash 2000 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      7. In a world - Lake Bell 2013 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      8. Obvious child - Gillian Robespierre 2014 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      9. She's gotta have it - Spike Lee 1986 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

  11. Week 8: Critical Race Theory 24 items
    This week, we’ll explore how scholars have addressed race in cinema, both as they have tested the limits of existing theory and have explored how to introduce new methods and approaches to race and ethnicity in cinema. As we’ll see, this is no simple endeavour, particularly once we throw nation into the mix.
    1. Required Film 2 items
      1. Bhaji on the beach - Gurinder Chadha 1993 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Master of None - Aziz Ansari 2015 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document  Series 1, episode 4, 'Indians on TV'. (Available on Netflix - not released on DVD)

    2. Highly recommended 1 item
      1. Question Bridge - Chris Johnson et al.

        Website 

    3. Required Reading: 4 items
      1. New Ethnicities - Stuart Hall

        Chapter  Read pp. 442-445 (digitised).

      2. De Margin and De Centre - Isaac Julien, Kobena Mercer 1988

        Article 

    4. Recommended Reading: 9 items
      1. White - Richard Dyer 1988

        Article 

      2. Cultural Identity and Diaspora - Stuart Hall

        Chapter  Digitised.

      3. The Oppositional Gaze - bell hooks

        Chapter  Digitised.

      4. Aesthetics and Politics in Contemporary Black Film Theory - Tommy Lott

        Chapter  Available in the Library and as an e-book.

      5. Can the Subaltern Speak? - Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

        Chapter  Digitised.

      6. Stereotype, Realism and The Struggle Over Representation - Ella Shohat, Robert Stam

        Chapter  Ch. 5 of 'Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media'

    5. Additional Viewing 8 items
      1. Dear White People - Justin Simien 2014 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Bamboozled - Spike Lee 2000 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      3. I'm British But ... - Gurinder Chadha 1989

        Audio-visual document  Available on YouTube.

      4. Tongues untied - Marlon T. Riggs 1989 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. Frantz Fanon: black skin, white masks - Isaac Julien, Colin Salmon 1996 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      6. Young soul rebels - Isaac Julien 2003 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      7. Daughters of the dust - Julie Dash 2000 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

  12. Week 9: Cinema and Sensory Experience 17 items
    Theoretical conceptions of the kind that liken cinema to dreaming have long placed the spectator as a passive figure, an observer on the film experience. Reconsidering how we watch through the philosophical framework of existential phenomenology, as pioneered by Vivian Sobchack, counteracts this passivity by emphasising an active and reciprocal relationship between viewer and film, one that more comprehensively accounts for the ways films are able to move us. Sobchack’s phenomenological approach to film places emphasis on the sensory nature of film – observing connections between the body, perspective and engagement, and centralizing our understanding of what happens onscreen as informed by our being-in-the-world. This week we will examine film as speaking to our lived experience by examining the embodied theory of spectatorship provided by phenomenological approaches to film.
    1. Required Film 1 item
      1. Morvern Callar - Lynne Ramsay 2002 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

    2. Required Reading: 2 items
      1. Musculature - Jennifer M. Barker

        Chapter  Especially pp. 69-93 (which provides crucial theoretical ideas) and pp. 106-119 (on chase films and action films). Available in the Library and as an e-book.

      2. What My Fingers Knew: The Cinesthetic Subject, or Vision in the Flesh - Vivian Sobchack

        Chapter  Available in the Library and as an e-book.

    3. Recommended Reading: 8 items
      1. Film Phenomenology - Daniel Frampton

        Chapter  Digitised.

      2. Phenomenology of perception - Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Colin Smith (trans) 1962

        Book 

      3. The action body - Lisa Purse

        Chapter  Available in the Library and as an e-book.

    4. Recommended Viewing: 6 items
      1. Casino Royale - Martin Campbell 2008 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Step up 2: the streets - Jon M. Chu 2008 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      3. Pina - Wim Wenders 2011 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      4. The piano - Jane Campion 2005 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. Wuthering Heights - Andrea Arnold 2011 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      6. Fast & Furious 6 - Justin Lin 2013 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

  13. Week 10: Theories of Listening 13 items
    Until fairly recently, theories of spectatorship in film studies have been dominated by psychoanalytic approaches. Connecting point-of-view with psychoanalytic theory – specifically, Lacan’s ‘mirror phase’ – the work of Jean-Louis Baudry, Christian Metz and Laura Mulvey for example, has focused almost exclusively on the image, while at the same time describing spectatorial engagement largely in negative terms, arguing that this process creates illusions of empowerment. Neglecting sound, however, means that they fail to address the many different ways that audiences connect with, and respond to, audio-visual media. Shifting the focus from the image to sound – or more accurately, to the interplay of sound and image – significantly enriches our understanding of how films make meaning. This week, building on the theories of embodied spectatorship that we explored in ‘Sensory Cinema’ and drawing on more recent theories of listening we will shift the focus away from earlier ‘visually orientated’ models of spectatorship towards sound in order to investigate how an exploration of the intersubjective and affective properties of film sound opens up the possibility of an ethical spectatorship based on the shared experience of listening.
    1. Required Viewing 1 item
      1. The Conversation - Francis Ford Coppola 1972 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

    2. Required Reading 2 items
      1. Cinema as Ear – Acoustics and Space - Thomas Elsaesser, Matte Hagener

        Chapter 

    3. Recommended Reading 4 items
      1. Sounding Out Film - Steven Connor January 2000

        Article 

      2. Beyond the soundtrack: representing music in cinema - Daniel Goldmark, Lawrence Kramer, Richard D. Leppert 2007

        Book  Chapter 11, pp. 184-202. [Available in the Library and as an e-book]

    4. Recommended Viewing 6 items
      1. A Man Escaped - Robert Bresson 1956 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. Elephant - Gus Van Sant 2003 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      3. The Headless Woman - Lucrecia Martel 2008 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      4. Neighbouring sounds - Kleber Mendonça Filho 2012 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. Ratcatcher - Lynne Ramsey 1999 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      6. Tropical Malady - Apichatpong Weerasethakul 2004 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

  14. Week 11: Digital Theory 17 items
    From the adoption of sound to the emergence of television, film history is full of ‘identity crises’. Today, however, nothing has brought the theoretical object ‘cinema’ into crisis more fundamentally the rise of digital media and infrastructure. As celluloid is phased out and traditional movie theatres have to compete with an everwidening array of other media platforms, we are witnessing a tectonic shift in thinking about ‘what cinema is’, what it has been, and what it might become. In this final week, we will consider a few of the key debates about cinema in the age of digital media, including the ontological status of the digital image and the fate of ‘indexicality’; the relation between photographic and ‘painterly’ images; the changing modes of production, distribution, and exhibition; and the ‘relocation’ of movie-watching onto new and different screens. We will also consider how shifts associated with the digital have provoked a rethinking of film history itself, repositioning the history of film as one aspect of a broader ‘media archaeology’ and shifting previously marginalized phenomena into the forefront of scholarly attention.
    1. Required Viewing (online): 1 item
      1. Hugo - Martin Scorsese 2011 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

    2. Required Reading: 3 items
      1. The language of new media - Lev Manovich 2001

        Book  Available in the Library and as an e-book. Read 'The Database’, pp. 212-244, and 'What is Cinema?', pp. 286-333.

      2. The end of cinema?: a medium in crisis in the digital age - André Gaudreault, Philippe Marion, Tim Barnard (trans) 2015

        Book  Read pages 1-40.

    3. Recommended Reading: 8 items
      1. What cinema is!: Bazin's quest and its charge - Dudley Andrew 2010

        Book  See particularly pp. xiii-xxvii; 1-28.

      2. What is media archaeology? - Jussi Parikka 2012

        Book 

      3. The new cinephilia - Girish Shambu 2014

        Book 

    4. Recommended Films: 5 items
      1. Festen: The celebration - Thomas Vinterberg 1998 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      2. The Congress - Ari Folman 2013 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      3. Lucy - Luc Besson 2014 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      4. Man with a movie camera - Dziga Vertov 1929 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

      5. Her - Spike Jonze 2013 (dvd)

        Audio-visual document 

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