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Session 3: Integrating Traditions: Film in New Cinema History

Paper 1 - Silvia Dibeltulo & Daniela Treveri Gennari, Oxford Brookes University, The place of film in cinema memory.

Recent academic debates within the field of New Cinema History have highlighted a tendency to overlook the role played by the film in historical studies of cinema and its audiences (Aveyard 2011; Biltereyst 2018). Our paper aims to address this gap by moving towards a more film-centric analysis of the cinema-going experience and investigating the place of film in cinema memory. We will draw from and expand Annette Kuhn’s typologies of cinema memories (2011) with reference to aspects such as identification with stars and characters, performance, technical aspects, as well as plots, scenes, and film directors.

We will be using the oral history (over 1000 questionnaires and 160 video-interviews) collected in the Italian Cinema Audiences (2013-2016) project which provides the first study of cinema audiences in Italy in the 1950s by analysing film-goers’ memories and contextualizing them with box-office figures and film industry data. This project puts audiences at the centre of the cinema-going experience and aims to explore the importance of film in everyday life. In this paper, we will investigate what is remembered about films and how films are discussed by audiences who used to go to the cinema in post-war Italy, a time in which films was one of the most widely consumed and popular cultural products. By examining Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) – our respondents’ favourite film – as a case study, we aim to formulate a new taxonomy of film memory that reflects contents, modalities of recollection, and functions of memories of films in order to re-examine the place of film in cinema memory.

Aveyard, K. (2011) ‘The Place of Cinema and Film in Contemporary Rural Australia’, Participations, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp. 294-307.

Biltereyst, D. (2018) ‘Audience as palimpsest. Mapping historical film audience research.’ Researching Past Cinema Audiences: Archives, Memories and Methods conference (Aberystwyth University, UK).

Kuhn, A. (2011) ‘What to do with Cinema Memory’, in Biltereyst, D., Maltby, R. and Meers, P. (eds) Explorations in New Cinema History: Approaches and Case Studies. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 85-97.

Silvia Dibeltulo is Senior Lecturer in Communication, Media and Culture at Oxford Brookes University. Her research mainly focuses on the representation of identity on screen, specifically in terms of ethnicity, nationality, gender and culture. Her work also centers on film genre theory and history, audience and reception studies, cinema heritage, and digital humanities.

Daniela Treveri Gennari is Professor of Cinema Studies at Oxford Brookes University with a research interest in audiences, popular cinema, film exhibition and programming. Daniela is currently leading the AHRC-funded project European Cinema Audiences: Entangled Histories and Shared Memories. Amongst her recent publications, the forthcoming jointly authored monograph Italian Cinema Audiences. Histories and Memories of Cinema-going in Post-war Italy (Bloomsbury: London/New York, forthcoming).

Paper 2 - Neil O’Boyle, Dublin City University, Film Memories and Tourism Spaces: Ethnographic Reflections on The Quiet Man.

This paper follows the tradition of New Cinema History in examining film as a site of social and cultural exchange and points to fruitful possibilities at the intersections of film studies and studies of promotional culture. The paper reflects on the enduring popularity of John Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952) – a film known internationally for its idealised depiction of Ireland as a serene, bucolic idyll. Findings from ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Cong, County Mayo (the setting of the fictional town of Innisfree in Ford’s iconic film) are presented, which included a social semiotic analysis of the town itself and material artefacts within it, as well as interviews with a range of frontline tourism workers (hoteliers, gift shop employees, tour operators, local retailers) who were asked about their experiences of film tourism in Cong and about the enduring legacy of The Quiet Man in particular. The paper highlights the significance of memory, imaginative participation and intergenerationality in film tourism and points to some of the important connections between filmic texts and social and geographical spaces.

Crosson, Séan and Rod Stoneman. The Quiet Man and Beyond: Reflections on a Classic Film, John Ford and Ireland. Dublin: The Liffey Press, 2009.

Ledin, Per and Machin, David. Doing Visual Analysis: From Theory to Practice. London: Sage, 2018.

MacHale, Des. The Complete Guide to the Quiet Man. Dublin: Appletree Press, 2001.

Pettitt, Lance. Screening Ireland. Manchester: Manchester City Press, 2000.

Neil O’Boyle is a communications lecturer who researches the relationship between media, popular culture and collective identities, a topic he explored in his book, New Vocabularies, Old Ideas: Culture, Irishness, and the Advertising Industry. His work has been published in a wide variety of international journals and scholarly collections.

Paper 3 - Lina Kaminskaite Jancoriene (Lithuanian Culture Research Institute) and Juozapas Paškauskas (Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre), The Early Cinema in Lithuania: in Search of Traditions.

The Early Cinema in Lithuania: in Search of Traditions This presentation focuses on the dynamics of film programmes of the early cinema in Lithuania in the period of 1907-1913 indicating the links with various audiences. To this end, we are going to present the analyses of cinema repertoires from two different cities of Lithuania, i.e. Vilnius and Kaunas, highlighting their features and films in different cultural, social and geographic urban contexts. The research of cinema culture in Vilnius and Kaunas is highly relevant in terms of multiculturalism and multiethnicity as these two cities were multilingual; a lot of Jewish, Polish, Belorussian, Lithuanian, Romani, Tatar and various other communities lived there. Therefore, we are going to pose a question as to how this is revealed in the solutions related to the film programming, film genre diversity as well as promotion of separate films.

In the presentation, our discoveries will be linked with the Russian early cinema research tradition which focuses on film text analyses, audience reception (V. Vishnevskij, S. Ginsburg, Y. Tsivian) and the discoveries presented in international historiography of past decades (Early Cinema and the “national”; Beyond the Screen: Institutions, Networks, and Publics of Early Cinema; A Companion to Early Cinema). The paper can be of use for the research on peripheries, i.e. the areas located further away from the centres of power. During the period concerned, the territory of Lithuania formed an integral part and a periphery of the Russian Empire. As a result, the research on this territory could offer a bigger picture of local film culture in the imperial borders, peripheries and colonies against the global context. The presentation constitutes a part of the research “Early Cinema in Lithuania: National, Imperial and Global Connections”, which aims to investigate films, film programs, distribution, film screening spaces and cinema interaction with other kinds of entertainment in 1896-1914.

Professional Experiences of Female Employees in the Lithuanian Film Industry from the Postcolonial Point of View, Gender, Work and Organization (together with dr. Aliona Šalaj, forthcoming) Moving Pictures for Peasants. The Kinofikatsia of Rural Lithuania in the Stalinist Era (1944–1953), Jahrbuch für Geschichte des ländlichen Raumes/Rural History Yearbook 2018, Innsbruck Создание кинопроизводства на периферии СССР: пример Литвы (1944–1953), in: Пережить войну. Киноиндустрия в СССР, 1939 – 1949 годы, Moscow -Paris, 2018 Sovietization and the Cinema in the Western Borderlands: Insurgency, Narrative, and Emancipation in Marytė (1947) (together with dr. Violeta Davoliūtė), Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, 64 (2016), H.3, 2018

I am, Lina, cinema and culture historian, focusing on New Cinema History, Baltic and Soviet cinema history. I have associate professor of film studies position at Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. In 2019 I was affiliated researcher at Utrecht University (supervised by Judith Thissen). My colleague Juozapas Paškauskas works as junior researcher at Lithuanian Theater and Music Academy. Together we work on the research project “Early Cinema in Lithuania: National, Imperial and Global Connections

Paper 4 - Niki McWilliams, Oxford Brookes University, The Alchemy of Cinema Memory, Intergenerational Diasporas, and Popular Greek Cinema: The Role of Film for Post-War Audiences in Rural Australia.

This paper wishes to present the significance of popular Greek film in the lives of Greek diasporic audiences in rural Australia during the 1960s and 70s. The data presented are arrived at through Annette Kuhn’s “alchemical process” of transforming cinema memories, into cinema memory (2019).

Inspired by the audience focus of Annette Kuhn (2002), The Italian Cinema Audiences Project (2014 – ongoing), Jackey Stacey (1994) and José Carlos Lozano et al. (2017, 2018) among others, the aim of this paper is to contribute to Deb Verhoeven’s (2011) highly regarded and important research on Greek-Australian cinematic history, by offering a rural, intergenerational, audience case study.

The paper explores some of the insights offered by the interviews conducted with surviving audience members, and critically interrogates the ways in which parents and their children remember the Greek film nights. It does so by drawing on the grounded methodological approaches that seek to listen, and allow the data to present themselves, rather than the more deductive methods wishing to confirm predisposed hypotheses. As such, many of the findings are intriguingly unforeseen and surprisingly unanticipated.

Ultimately, the paper’s intention is not so much to offer a reconstruction of the past, but more a reflection of how cinema memories, and Greek popular film more specifically, have helped to shape, inform and in many ways enhance or diminish participant’s lives both retrospectively and now. Or in Lozano’s words, “a look at the meanings respondents attach to their memories in the present day” (2017, p. 46) and how, with the benefit of hindsight, meanings with regards to identity, ethnicity and gender are made.

Kuhn, A. (2019) Keynote Address: What is Cinema Memory? Mining Memories Symposium, University College Cork, Ireland, 22nd November 2019.

Lozano, J. C., Meers, P., Biltereyst, D. (2018) The Social Experience of Going to the Movies in the 1930s-1960s in a Small Texas Border Town: Moviegoing Habits and Memories of Films in Laredo, Texas, in Rural Cinema Exhibition and Audiences in a Global Context, D. Treveri Gennari et al. (eds), Palgrave Macmillan.

Stacey, J. (1994) Star Gazing Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship in 1940s and 1950s Britain, London, Routledge.

Verhoeven, D. (2011) “Film distribution in the diaspora: Temporality, community and national cinema”, in (eds) Richard Maltby et al., Explorations in New Cinema History: Approaches and Case Studies, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 243-260.

Niki McWilliams is a PhD student at Oxford Brookes University, researching, identity, cinemagoing, intergenerational Greek diaspora and cinematic memory, in 1960s-1970s rural South Australia. She is interested in analysing the previously undocumented social histories and cinema memories of post-war, Greek film audiences in rural and geographically isolated Australian settings.

Paper 5 - Belinda Q. He, UC Berkeley, Cinema as Show Trial: The Place of People’s Justice and the Space of Cinematic Inquisition.

What kind of space ensures that justice is seen to be done? How does cinema make and (re)define such space(s)? Cameras and screens have increasingly infiltrated the court of law, a space whose very definition is enclosure, and complicated the relationship between justice and the space in which it operates. The enduring interplay between film and criminal justice necessitates our engagement with the questions of exposure, reenactment, (audio-)visual fiction, and spatial order. With such questions in mind, this paper moves beyond conventional discussions either around Hollywood representations of law/justice (or rather, courtroom drama and true crime documentary as global genres) or concerning the uses of video cameras (e.g., bodycam, court cam, CCTV security camera) within the judicial sphere of Western liberal democracies. The paper brings to the fore what I call cinema as show trial, namely, the working of a cinematic encounter as both a show and a trial that blurs and negotiates the boundary between the legal and the extra-legal by situating it in Chinese socialism and its legacies.

Considering show trial as a mode of thinking, the paper examines the role of cinematic spaces in producing trial-like encounters that render the condemned visible, make/execute the truth, and put mass viewers and their (non-)participation on trial. Through exploring the understudied dynamics among space, violence, and the body of the crowd within an overarching class-coded system, I highlight the mutual constitution of image-making and Maoist justice, upon which class struggle was legitimized and violence was produced both on and offscreen, within and beyond exhibiting spaces. The paper seeks to theorize a socialist case of cinematic inquisition: how people encountered a body of ideologically incorrect films labeled as “poisonous weeds” (ducao dianying) and put those films and related people on the spot through screenings (pipan fangying) and alternative cinephiliac, if not “cinephobic,” paratextual performances. I argue that cinema enacted and was, in turn, shaped by trials, punishments, and the politics of enemy-making in the age of “class struggle.”

Arjomand, Minou. Staged: Show Trials, Political Theater, and the Aesthetics of Judgment. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018.

Clover, Carol J. “Judging Audiences: The Case of the Trial Movie.” Reinventing Film Studies. London, England; New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2001, 244-64.

Griffiths, Alison. Carceral Fantasies: Cinema and Prison in Early Twentieth-Century America. Columbia University Press, 2016.

Oeler, Karla. A Grammar of Murder: Violent Scenes and Film Form. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Belinda He is a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley (Ph.D. in cinema/media studies at UW Seattle). Belinda’s work engages the role of film, photography, and video in policing and punishing in transnational contexts. Her in-progress project Expose and Punish: Trial by Moving Images in China has been supported by Andrew Mellon Foundation, Library of Congress, Asia Art Archive, etc.