Film Series on “Imagining Media Change” — Screening #3: Digital Short Films

c (299,792 kilometers per second) from Seaquark Films on Vimeo.

On June 12, 2013 (6:00 pm in room 615, Conti-Hochhaus), the Initiative for Interdisciplinary Media  Research is proud to present the third installment of our ongoing series of film screenings, “Imagining Media Change.”  (See here for a flyer with more details about our film series and related events, and here for a description of the symposium that forms the conceptual centerpiece.)

In a departure from our usual format of screening feature-length movies, this time we will watch a handful of recent science-fiction-themed ‘digital’ short films –  among them Derek Van Gorder’s and Otto Stockmeier’s Kickstarter-funded short C (299,792 kilometers per second) (2013), Neill Blomkamp’s Alive in Joburg (2006) – the proof-of-concept for what became 2009’s District 9 –  and the first episode of RCVR (2011), a Motorola-sponsored Web-TV series released via and Youtube. All of these films – as products of a throughly digitalized media environment – not only point us to the various transformations connected to contemporary media change (from crowd-funding to the use of digital video and the viral distribution of content via online video sites); as science-fiction films, they are also centrally about futuristic and/or alien technology and present us with their own takes on media change.

As always, the screening is free and open for all! Finally, the films themselves are embedded here in case you can’t make it.

Forbidden Planet (1956): Film Series on “Imagining Media Change” — Screening #2


On May 15, 2013 (6:00 pm in room 615, Conti-Hochhaus), the Initiative for Interdisciplinary Media Research is proud to present Forbidden Planet (1956), the second installment in this semester’s series of film screenings, “Imagining Media Change.” (See here for a flyer with more details about our film series and related events, and here for a description of the symposium that forms the conceptual centerpiece.)

As a space-age re-imagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, complete with the first fully electronic soundtrack in a feature-legth film, Forbidden Planet challenges us to re-think the discursive and material trajectories according to which histories of film and media change are negotiated in popular culture.

Incidentally, Catherine Grant from the excellent blog Film Studies for Free has assembled a great set of links to open-access and freely available articles about Forbidden Planet, which you can find here.

As usual, our screening is free and open to all, so please spread the word to anyone who might be interested in joining us.

Flash Gordon (1936): “Imagining Media Change” — Screening #1


On April 17, 2013, we will be screening the serial Flash Gordon (1936), the first installment in this semester’s film series “Imagining Media Change.” (See here for a flyer with more details about our film series and related events, and here for a description of the symposium that forms the conceptual centerpiece.) In this context, science fiction (and sci-fi film, in particular) presents itself as a central vehicle for “imagining media change” in the 20th and 21st centuries — as a medium for conceiving the future, and in this way negotiating the changes characterising the present. Looked at in retrospect, early sci-fi films like Flash Gordon therefore also form a natural site for a media-archaeological investigation of past changes and their parallel histories and relations to our own ongoing efforts to negotiate the transition to a digital mediascape.

The screening (6:00pm on Wednesday, April 17, in room 615, Conti-Hochhaus) is free and open to all, so spread the word to anyone who might be interested in joining us.

A Breath of Fresh AIR: Le voyage dans la lune

Say what you like about the addition of contemporary music to silent films, or about the use of digital techniques that stretch “restoration” projects close to the domain of original creation…. But whatever you say, the combination of this “resurrected” copy (as Tom Burton of Technicolor Restoration Services puts it) of Méliès’s Le voyage dans la lune (1902) — which is not a Ted Turner-type colorization job but based on an original hand-colored print — overlaid with music from AIR’s new album (also called Le voyage dans la lune) is just plain awesome!

(Read more about the restoration project here, and check out AIR’s website for the album here)

CFP: “Visions of the Future: Global SF Cinema”

The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, April 12-14, 2012

Keynote Speakers:
Professor N. Katherine Hayles (Literature Program, Duke University)
Professor Thomas LaMarre (East Asian Studies, Art History and Communications Studies, McGill University)

Once considered a marginal object of study, science fiction (SF) is undergoing a radical revision in academic circles, increasingly positioned as a privileged site for interpreting contemporary theoretical concerns on a global scale. Filmmakers throughout the world work both within and outside of the mainstream to pose alternative visions of globalization and its discontents, as showcased in films such as District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, South Africa, 2009),Sleep Dealer (Alex Rivera, U.S.-Mexico, 2008), The Host (Bong Joon-ho, South Korea, 2006), and Pumzi (Wanuri Kahiu, Kenya, 2009).
At the same time, shifts in international filmmaking practices call for a reconsideration of SF cinema, not as an abstract category, but in terms of the networks it makes possible. The rise of digital filmmaking, for example, has implications for the production of peripheral SF; cyberculture has altered how SF is produced, distributed, and received.
“Visions of the Future: Global SF Cinema,” made possible by an Arts and Humanities Initiative Grant from the University of Iowa, is designed to define an emerging field, moving away from the paradigm of national cinema to bring together shared theoretical frameworks, identifying new models and methods to help us investigate SF cinema’s relationship to contemporary global problems.
We invite proposals for papers that examine the multiple permutations of SF film around the world, from its origins to the contemporary moment. While we welcome all abstracts, we are especially interested in papers that address one or more of the following:

*immigration, citizenship, and labor
*shifting constructions of identity (including race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and sexuality)
*theories of technology (such as posthumanism, transhumanism, techno-horror, cyberpunk, and techno-utopias/dystopias)
*bioethics and contagion
*imperialism, neo-imperialism, and the legacy of colonialism
*ecocriticism and environmental catastrophe
*how SF “travels” in and through dubbing, subtitling, and the film festival circuit
*cross-cultural SF film adaptations and remakes
*theories of temporality and history in “multiple” or “alternative” modernities
*SF and new media (including virtual realities, video games and MMORPG, mobile phones, online fandoms, and special effects such as CGI and 3-D)

The organizers will coordinate panels according to shared theoretical concerns, rather than regional or national specialization, to ensure interdisciplinary dialogue. Selected papers will be included in a refereed collection of previously unpublished essays on global SF cinema.
In addition to scholarly panels, the conference will feature screenings of key films in the SF genre from different national cinemas, followed by discussions.
Submission Information:
Please send an abstract (approximately 300 words), accompanied by a brief biographical note (approximately 250 words), Proposals should be sent as Word (.doc/.docx) or PDF files. All submissions will be acknowledged. Deadline: August 31, 2011. Notification will be sent by September 15.
Jennifer Feeley, Assistant Professor, Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures; Cinema and Comparative Literature
Sarah Ann Wells, Assistant Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
The University of Iowa