Université de Strasbourg, May 6-7, 2015
The conference « The circulation of film in the Middle East and North Africa: Local, national and transnational trajectories » that took place in Saint-Denis on May 8-9, 2014, provided an opportunity to explore the circulation of films from and in the MENA region from different perspectives. The discussions highlighted existing distribution networks, the widespread lack of local and international outlets for films from the MENA region as well as the difficulties related to the distribution of international films in the countries with limited capacity for formal projections. This conference was also an opportunity to explore non-commercial circuits, in particular research carried out on local cultural centers, cine-clubs and film festivals. The purpose of the present conference is to pursue these themes, interrogating the very diverse terms and forms of the relationship between spectators and films in North Africa and the Middle East. We will also consider the activities and practices associated with cinema in different locations as well as the film cultures that sustain such activities.
While the 2014 conference was devoted exclusively to North Africa and the Middle East, the 2015 will be open to papers treating Sub-Saharan Africa as well. Indeed, the MENA seminar held in Paris 3 in 2013-2014 showed up similarities and potentially productive comparisons related primarily to the lack of commercial distribution, the absence of cinemas, and the development of local initiatives meant to bring film projections to the public.
While raising issues of spectatorship, audiences and film cultures in specific places and time periods in Africa and the Middle East, we will privilege the following set of questions:
1) Theoretical frameworks and methodology. What are the theoretical and methodological approaches that may enable researchers to account for the relationships between spectators and films today? What practices are considered to be cinema?
2) Audiences and commercial exhibition. Where are films projected today? What business models are adopted by those who project films to the public? What audiences do they target? What is the specificity of this particular type of film consumption, and what sociability is associated with it?
3) Public and collective film screenings outside commercial distribution.
a) Festivals. Studies of film festivals, their place in the circulation of films, the impact of the festival on the reception of the films, and their audiences.
b) New Initiatives. Studies of or reflections on initiatives like the Cinéma Numérique Ambulant in West Africa, ATAC or the Route du cinéma in Tunisia, the film caravans in Morocco, or the cultural center of Zawya in Cairo, etc. Analyses of their audiences.
4) What are the categories that enable us to account for the ever increasing access that spectators have to films:
a) The multiplication of platforms and formats. What can we say about the influence of new technologies and the resulting shifts in visual culture? How have these new formats changed not only film production, but mainly film consumption, and spectators’ relationships to film? What are the media through which films are watched individually or collectively? What is the impact and role of television and of the ever growing number of platforms?
b) The forms and effects of piracy. What can we say about pirated access to paying channels or cable television, unlawful streaming or downloading, and pirated DVDs? Do the means of obtaining these films change the perception of cinema either directly or indirectly via the conditions in which they are watched (quality of the sound, subtitles or dubbing, type of screens, etc.)?
5) Sites and forms of film culture. How do audiences develop a knowledge of film and what do they consider to be film and/or cinema? How are they initiated into, film and cinephilia? What about different categories (age or gender)? What do they watch and how?
Call for papers: 5 November 2014
Deadline for abstracts: 30 December 2014
Notification of participants: 10 February 2015
Please send a 400-word abstract, a short bibliography, and a biography to email@example.com
For further information, please contact Patricia Caillé (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Organizing Committee: Abdel Benchenna (Université de Paris XIII), Patricia Caillé (Université de Strasbourg), Claude Forest (Université de Strasbourg), Nolwenn Mingant (Université de Nantes)
Scientific Committee (Provisional) : Hamid Aidouni (Université Abdelmaled Essaadi, Tétouan), Tarek Ben Chaabane (Université de Carthage, Tunisie), Lamia Belkaied Guiga (ESAC, Tunis), Sonia Chamkhi (Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts, Tunis), Laurent Creton (Université Sorbonne nouvelle-Paris 3), Odile Goerg (Université de Paris 7), Moulay Driss Jaidi (ISCA, Rabat), Kevin Dwyer, Claude Forest (Université de Strasbourg), Will Higbee (Université d’Exeter), Dina Iordanova (University of Saint-Andrews), Andrea Khalil (CUNY, New York), Florence Martin (Goucher College, Baltimore), Michel Serceau, Elie Yazbek (Université Saint-Joseph, Beyrouth)
This conference is supported by MSH Paris Nord, l’IRCAV (Paris 3), L’ACCRA (Université de Strasbourg).
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