Professor Annette Insdorf Publishes 'Cinematic Overtures'

BY Kio Shijiki , November 9, 2017

Cover of Cinematic Overtures by Annette Insdorf Film professor, Annette Insdorf published a new book Cinematic Overtures: How to Read Opening Scenes.


The book discusses the opening sequence of historical films from Hollywood movies to European art house movies including but not limited to Schindler’s List, Hiroshima, mon amour, etc. Annette Insdorf presents a program of clips and discussion in conjunction with her new book, based on her teaching approach at Columbia University for 30 years, exploring how gifted filmmakers layer their first shots in a way that introduces the movie's stylistic and thematic richness.

She discusses the films’ exploration as well as critiques the camera movement (“camera’s gaze”) taking the audience through the story and how best to grab attention in the first few moments of a film. She also examins the usage of voice-over in a films’ opening sequence, pointing to huge successes such as Sunset Boulevard and American Beauty.


Cinematic Overtures: How to Read Opening Scenes is available for purchase here. Purchasers receive a 30% discount with the code CUP30.


A series of events have been scheduled around the publication:


Sunday, December 3rd, 7 pm, Free

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater

144 W. 65 Street

New York, NY

**Book-signing will follow.


Additional tentative presentations and book-signings include:


Sunday, Dec. 10, at 4 pm

Presentation of Hiroshima mon amour

Museum of the Moving Image

36-01 35th Avenue

Astoria, NY 11106


Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 pm

Introduction of Costa-Gavras' Z

French Institute, 55 E. 59 St.

New York, NY


Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 7 pm

Program of clips (including The Graduate, Taxi Driver, American Beauty, Fight Club) and discussion


110 E. 25 St.

New York, NY



Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 6:30 pm

Program of clips and discussion

Mid-Manhattan Library

476 Fifth Avenue.


Professor Insdorf also just released her two new series on Filmstruck, one based on this book, Cinematic Overtures, and another based on her recent publication, Indelible Shadows: Documentary Film and the Holocaust. In the Cinematic Overtures Filmstruck series, Insdorf introduces 8 films—Aguirre, Badlands, Before the Rain, Come and See, Knife in the Water, The Conformist, The Hill, Three Colors: Red—in addition to offering a series overview.


You can read more about both Filmstruck series here.