a research blog by Lotte Hoek
A few more weeks now and Cut-Pieces: Celluloid Obscenity and Popular Cinema in Bangladesh will be out with Columbia University Press! Based on my PhD research, this monograph presents a detailed account of the production and consumption of popular Bangladeshi action films made on celluloid. It is based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork at the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (or FDC). The focus of the book is the cut-piece, a stray bit of celluloid that contains pornographic imagery. These bits of surreptitiously made footage that in many ways defined the Bangladesh film industry in the noughties, as well as continuing to provide the backdrop against which reform of the industry is taking place today. The book is an attempt to think through the implication of such ‘unstable celluloid’ for the ways in which we might conceptualise the cinema as a social and cultural form, in South Asia and elsewhere
Here’s the blurb from the Columbia website:
Imagine watching an action film in a small-town cinema hall in Bangladesh, and in between the gun battles and fistfights, a short pornographic clip appears. This is known as a cut-piece, a strip of locally made celluloid pornography surreptitiously spliced into the reels of action films in Bangladesh. Exploring the shadowy world of these clips and their place in South Asian film culture, Lotte Hoek builds a rare, detailed portrait of the production, consumption, and cinematic pleasures of stray celluloid.
Hoek’s innovative ethnography plots the making and reception of Mintu the Murderer (2005), a popular, Bangladeshi B-quality action movie and fascinating embodiment of the cut-piece phenomenon. She begins with the early scriptwriting phase and concludes with multiple screenings in remote Bangladeshi cinema halls, following the cut-pieces as they appear and disappear from the film, destabilizing its form, generating controversy, and titillating audiences. Hoek’s work shines an unusual light on Bangladesh’s state-owned film industry and popular practices of the obscene. She also reframes conceptual approaches to South Asian cinema and film culture, drawing on media anthropology to decode the cultural contradictions of Bangladesh since economic liberalization.
Have a look here, and, if you can, get your library to order it!