Powered by Luciano Mariani, Milano, Italy


IntroductionFilm languageFilm studiesGlossaries DictionariesWeb resourcesGames for film buffs
Subscribe to the Newsletter

Vai alla sezione italiana

Cinema and sexual and gender identities

This new project explores how cinema has dealt with the question of sexual and gender identities. Since this question is often fraught with widely different interpretations and ideological biases, this Introduction makes it clear that our basic assumption is that complex phenomena like sex and gender need to be considered through a trans-disciplinary approach, i.e. with a wide range of methodological tools (biological, sociological, anthropological, psychological and cultural). Starting with the basic distinction between sex and gender, we then make the case for the existence of different sexual and gender identities and start to discuss how cinema both reflects and helps to define such identities.

Introduction: some basic issues

Gender inequality in the cinema world:
Some facts and figures

"Daddy goes to work, mummy stays at home":
Gender stereotypes in the movies

Homosexuality in fim history

This Dossier is an in-depth exploration of how homosexuality has been represented in the history of cinema. Homosexuals have always had some form of "visibility", but for a long time only as comic or tragic masks, perpetuating a system of attitudes based on heterosexual norms and homophobia. Only since the 1990s has cinema started to provide more realistic, honest and respectful representations of homosexual figures who could finally aspire to be, on equal terms with heterosexuals, well-rounded characters, not simply conditioned by their sexual orientation.

Part 1: From silent movies to the 1970s
Part 2: The 1980s and 1990s
Part 3: The first few decades of the new century


The evolution of female and male gender roles  through cinema's history

Since the early days of cinema, gender roles have been portrayed in films according to the prevailing traditional and patriarchal stereotypes that have for a long time assigned more or less fixed social and psychological attributes to women and men. However, cinema's history has also inevitably reflected major political, economic and sociocultural changes, which have affected the roles of women and men within their societies and their cultures. This series of Dossiers explores how female and male gender roles have evolved and how films continue to reflect, but also consolidate or challenge, the representations of women and men on the screen.

Part 1: From the 1930s to the 1950s
Part 2: From the 1960s to the 1980s
Part 3: from the 1990s to the 2010s

On the threshold of a film: opening sequences

The opening sequences of a film are often considered particularly important, as they introduce viewers to the film and thus act as a kind of "bridge" between the audience and the film itself. Over the course of the history of cinema, these sequences have undergone considerable developments, following the evolution of cinematography and the changes in viewers' expectations. The General introduction, after a brief historical outline, provides a first illustration of the main functions that the opening sequences perform, e.g. providing the prologue, defining the context, presenting the characters, exposing the central theme, suggesting the tone and genre of a film - themes that are then dealt with in these specific Dossiers:

* The prologue of a film in its opening sequences
* Establishing the place and time of a film's world
* Introducing a film's characters
* Conveying a film's main theme
* Suggesting the tone and genre of a film
* Long takes and camera movements
* Graphics and design in a film's opening sequences
* Musical overtures
* "Meta" opening sequences: self-reflecting films

Film genres: origin, functions, evolution

This Interactive workshop aims at exploring the origin of genres, their functions in cinema and their evolution, with particular emphasis on the latest developments. We first ask why we need genres at all and examine the variety of classification criteria that can be used. Then we focus on the specific features of genre films, analysing their conventions and their narrative structures. We then explore how different agents (from producers to audiences, from critics to film scholars) have used and still use genres, and highlight their economic, sociocultural and communicative functions. Finally, by taking a historical perspective, we explore how genres have evolved in the course of time and how modern cinema extensively use genre mixing and hybridization, thus pointing to the future of this important but complex category of film analysis.

"Impossible" puzzle films: filmmakers' narrative strategies and viewers' coping strategies

Puzzle films are examples of complex storytelling, which has become one of the important new ways in which cinema has evolved, particularly since the 1990s, providing audiences with plots that are increasingly difficult to understand. This Dossier deals with two distinct but related issues. The first part will focus on narrative strategies, i.e. it will try to describe what "impossible complexity" means and how movies manage to achieve it. The second part will consider viewers' strategies, i.e. what viewers do to cope with the task of finding meaning and unravelling the "puzzles" that confront them.

Movies about the movies: insiders' looks at the world of cinema



Since its birth, there have been movies set in the world of cinema, portraying, e.g. a film being made, or an audience watching it, or the society revolving around the film industry, from producers to directors, from scriptwriters to actors and actresses. And yet Hollywood "movies about the movies" are inherently paradoxical in this respect. If they allow you to peep at their secrets, they only do so up to a certain point, because Hollywood, as a myth, cannot risk losing its somewhat magical, even mysterous appeal. This Dossier is a general introduction to a project which includes more specific explorations of the topic of "movies about movies".

Also available:
 Movie gods and goddesses: the rise and fall of stars

On the set: watching films being made

Point of view: who really tells a film's story?

Starting from the basic distinction between "objective" and "subjective" storytelling, and the complex relationships between them, this Dossier also focuses on the crucial role of the viewers as active "gazing entities" who, far from being passive consumers, are provided with cues which prompt them to activate a series of mental operations - deduction-inference, hypothesis formation and testing and problem-solving. Among the several examples provided by the Dossier, sequences from “Goodfellas”, “The black swan” and “The Blair Witch project”.

Cinema: past, present and future of a communicative medium


Cinema has constantly evolved to meet the challenges of economic and technological developments and has so far managed to survive and thrive even in the face of dramatic changes, which seemed to endanger both its financial status and its social and cultural functions. The Covid pandemic has simply highlighted the serious challenges that cinema is forced to face in the 21st century. What is its present state-of-the art? How will new production, distribution and reception trends impact on viewing habits? What changes have taken place in film language use? And what new opportunities are opened up by digital technologies and the Internet?



A light show between sky and sea

A journey into the mystery of a flower

Visual tricks at St.Pancras

Lights and shadows at Sénanque

Interactive workshops

An opportunity to explore a topic through an active approach, which includes, besides collecting information, eliciting one's own ideas and feelings, monitoring reactions, comparing personal viewpoints and getting feedback.

Film genres

Film genres: origin, functions, evolution

Film noir
Emotions at the movies
Emotions and film genres

Film music




Film genres

Film genres: origin, functions, evolution

Film noir

Horror movies


Femmes fatales: dark ladies at the movies

American teen pics: movies for teenagers, movies about teenagers

Classical Hollywood melodrama

The persistence of melodrama: from Sirk to Fassbinder to Haynes

"Puzzle" films and complex storytelling: a challenge to the audience

"Impossible" puzzle films: filmmakers' narrative strategies and viewers' coping strategies

Cinema and sexual and gender identities
* Introduction: some basic issues
* Gender inequality: some facts and figures
* Gender stereotypes in the movies

* The evolution of female and male gender roles through cinema's history

Movies about the movies: insiders' looks at the world of cinema
* A general introduction
* Movie gods and goddesses: the rise and fall of stars
* On the set: watching films being made
* The "Hollywood system": behind the scenes of the "dream factory"
* "Films within films": viewers watching viewers
* Directors on and off the set
* Producers and screenwriters: the "hidden figures" of filmmaking
* "Meta-cinema": when movies reflect on themselves

Film narration

Film narration

Point of view


Classical Hollywood: the cinema of continuity

Cinema: past, present and future of a communicative medium

On the threshold of a film: opening sequences
* A general introduction
* The prologue of a film
* Establishing the place and time
* Introducing a film's characters
* Conveying a film's main theme
* Suggesting the tone and genre of a film
* Long takes and camera movements
* Graphics and design
* Musical overtures
* "Meta" sequences: self-reflecting films

Hitchcock: the primacy of visual over verbal

Billy Wilder: a director between two cultures

Pedro Almodovar: a question of identities

Stanley Kubrick: visualizing the plight of human existence

Visual gems from Orson Welles's masterpieces

Pier Paolo Pasolini's feature films

Psychology of cinema
Expectations, attitudes and strategies: a bridge between screen and audience

Characters' psychology and viewers' causal attributions

Emotions at the movies: between moods and cues

Emotions and film genres: from attitudes to expectations

Film music
Part 1: The interaction between image and sound
Part 2 : The functions of music

Cinema and multiple intelligences

School at the movies
School at the movies: teaching and educational relationships

Images of teachers in Hollywood cinema

Homage to a city
New York



Cannes Cinéma

Multimedia slideshows



Disclaimer   Credits