International Workshop, Leeds, 22-23 March 2016
Venue: Weetwood Hall, Leeds
Convenort: Alan O’Leary
Minutes and report: Rachel Johnson
The workshop was generously supported by grants from the University of Leeds Internationalization Fund and from the Strategic Research Development Fund of the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies. A shorter version of this report is forthcoming in the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies.
10:00 Introduction to #ICIH project (Alan O’Leary. Response by co-investigators: Austin Fisher, Robert Gordon, Catherine O’Rawe)
11:15 Defining historical cinema/Identifying historical films (Chair: Robert Gordon. Participants: Hamilton Carroll, David Eldridge, Giacomo Lichtner, Áine O’Healy. Respondent: Fabio Andreazza)
14:00 Studying (Italian) historical films: issues and approaches (1) (Chair: Susanna Scarparo. Participants: Ivo Blom, Mark Goodall, Marco Cucco, Paolo Noto. Respondent: Christian Uva)
16:00 Keynote talk (Ruth Ben-Ghiat. Chair and respondent: Giacomo Lichtner)
17:30-19:00 Book presentations
- Giacomo Lichtner, Fascism in Italian Cinema Since 1945: The Politics and Aesthetics of Memory(Palgrave Macmillan 2013). Presented by Robert Gordon
- Bernadette Luciano and Susanna Scarparo, Reframing Italy: New Trends in Italian Women’s Filmmaking (Purdue, 2013). Presented by Áine O’Healy
- Catherine O’Rawe, Stars and Masculinities in Contemporary ItalianCinema (Palgrave, 2014); Catherine O’Rawe and Jacqueline Reich, Divi: La mascolinità nel cinema italiano (Donzelli, 2015). Presented by Alan O’Leary
- Christian Uva, L’immagine politica(Mimesis, 2015). Presented by Paolo Noto
9:30 Public engagement: #ICIH, non-academic partners and ‘pathways to impact’ (Chair: Alan O’Leary. Participants: Marie Andersen, Bogdan Babych, Wendy Cook, Austin Fisher, Esther Harper, Peter Langdale, Jo Nockels, Deborah Parker)
11:15 Studying (Italian) historical films: issues and approaches (2) (Chair: Shoba Ghosh. Participants: Austin Fisher, Dom Holdaway, Catherine O’Rawe, Susanna Scarparo, Respondent: Giacomo Manzoli)
14:00 Methodologies and approaches (Chair: Austin Fisher. Participants: Bernadette Luciano, Alan O’Leary, Dana Renga, Christian Uva, Vito Zagarrio. Respondent: Robert Gordon)
16:00 Final roundtable and discussion (Chair: Alan O’Leary. Participants: Ruth Ben-Ghiat, David Eldridge, Shoba Ghosh, Peter Langdale, Giacomo Manzoli, Jo Nockels)
|Marie Andersen (MA)||Dance artist||Improvisation Exchange Leeds|
|Fabio Andreazza (FA)||Ricercatore, Cinema, Photography and Television||Università degli Studi ‘G. D’Annunzio’, Chieti-Pescara|
|Savas Arslan (SA)||Professor of Film and Television||Bahçeşehir University|
|Bogdan Babych (BB)||Director of Impact, School of Languages, Cultures and Societies||University of Leeds|
|Ruth Ben-Ghiat (RBG)||Professor of History and Italian Studies||New York University|
|Ivo Blom (IB)||Lecturer and Programme Director, Comparative Arts and Media Studies||VU University Amsterdam|
|Hamilton Carroll (HC)||Associate Professor of English||University of Leeds|
|Wendy Cook (WC)||General Manager||Hyde Park Cinema (Leeds)|
|Marco Cucco (MC)||Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Media and Journalism||Università della Svizzera italiana|
|David Eldridge (DE)||Senior Lecturer in American Studies||University Of Hull|
|Austin Fisher (AF)||Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies; founder, ‘Spaghetti Cinema’ festival||Bournemouth University/Spaghetti Cinema|
|Shoba Ghosh (SG)||Professor of English||University of Mumbai|
|Mark Goodall (MG)||Senior Lecturer in Culture, Film and Media||University of Bradford|
|Robert Gordon (RG)||Professor of Italian||University of Cambridge|
|Esther Harper (EH)||Education Engagement Officer, Faculty of arts||University of Leeds|
|Dom Holdaway (DH)||Postdoctoral researcher||Università di Bologna|
|Alex King (AK)||Programme Manager||Leeds International Film Festival|
|Peter Langdale (PL)||Head of Languages||North London Collegiate School|
|Giacomo Lichtner (GL)||Senior Lecturer in History||Victoria University of Wellington|
|Bernadette Luciano (BL)||Associate Professor of Italian||University of Auckland|
|Giacomo Manzoli (GM)||Professor in Cinema, Photography and Television||Università di Bologna|
|Jo Nockels (JN)||Projects Manager and programmer||Opera North (Leeds)|
|Paolo Noto (PN)||Senior Assistant Professor in Cinema, Photography and Television||Università di Bologna|
|Áine O’Healy (AOH)||Professor of Italian||Loyola Marymount University|
|Catherine O’Rawe (CO)||Reader in Italian||University of Bristol|
|Deborah Parker (DP)||Managing Director||Cinema For All|
|Dana Renga (DR)||Associate Professor of Italian||The Ohio State University|
|Susanna Scarparo (SS)||Associate Professor of Italian||Monash University|
|Christian Uva (CU)||Associate Professor in Cinema, Photography and Television||Università degli Studi Roma Tre|
|Mary Wood (MW)||Emeritus Professor of European Cinema||Birkbeck College, University of London|
|Vito Zagarrio (VZ)||Professor in Cinema, Photography and Television||Università degli Studi Roma Tre|
|Convenor: Alan O’Leary (AOL)||Associate Professor in Italian||University of Leeds|
|Logistics: Erin Pickles (EP)||Research and Staff Support Officer, School of Languages, Cultures and Societies||University of Leeds|
|Assistant: Rachel Johnson (RJ)||Doctoral Student (Italian cinema)||University of Leeds|
1. Introduction to #ICIH project
(Alan O’Leary. Response by co-investigators: Austin Fisher, Robert Gordon, Catherine O’Rawe)
AOL began by welcoming and thanking all participants.
He explained the ICIH project’s rationale (http://arts.leeds.ac.uk/italian-cinemas-italian-histories/): to study of Italian historical films rather than Italian historical cinema; to challenge definitions of ‘historical film’; to expand the range of films analysed.
AOL tied this into the possible challenges for the project in defining historical films, Italian films, and film in general; in selecting a methodology to study such a range of films; in negotiating the relationship between comprehensiveness and case studies.
AF summed up the rationale behind his work for the project. He highlighted the ‘transnational turn’ in film studies and discussed the ways in which the Italian Spaghetti Western could productively intervene in the debate.
AF also raised the question of the historicity of the present – how films set in the present can be historical through a preoccupation with the past that underlies the present setting of the films.
RG discussed his work on Holocaust literature and cultural memory. He questioned the adequacy of the term ‘memory’, favouring looser terms such as ‘awareness’, ‘affective knowledge’ and ‘affect-driven values’. He asked what constitutes an historical event.
RG pointed to the value of ‘thin knowledge’ of the past – wide-spread but not necessarily deep. Cinema cumulatively participates in thin knowledge – one aim of the project could be to investigate how films do this.
CO discussed her work on audiences, pointing to the diversity of audiences as well as films. The ‘Italian Cinema Audiences’ project she is currently involved in (http://italiancinemaaudiences.org/) questions Italian audiences’ about their responses to Italian films, and shows that audiences have a concern for realism in film.
She also highlighted a tendency to conflate documentary-style realism with impegno (political or social commitment). In fact, other genres such as romantic comedy can be more subversive because their representation of trauma pierces generic conventions.
The panel was followed by a discussion. SS asked how we could approach such different issues, such as audience and genre, under one project. She also asked if the documentary was to be excluded.
GM asked about the term ‘canon’, and suggested we mi ght move away from it. AOL agreed, suggesting we think in terms of corpora and ecology, which imply interconnection rather than linearity.
(Chair: Robert Gordon. Participants: Hamilton Carroll, David Eldridge, Giacomo Lichtner, Áine O’Healy. Respondent: Fabio Andreazza)
HC presented ‘Screening Combat and Historicizing the Present in the Forever Wars’. He introduced his work which focuses on films as key representations of the ‘forever wars’ – United States’ warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the main issues this research raises is how films set in the present can be historical.
While films depicting the forever wars (such as Hurt Locker, American Sniper, and Green Zone) are acclaimed for their realism, they also rely heavily on dramatic conventions and nationalistic tropes. They also compete with ‘faster’ media such as YouTube, soldier blogs and news channels. Does this (relative) time lag contribute to contemporary feature films’ historicisation of the (present) combat in Afghanistan and Iraq?
DE presented ‘Defining the historical film’. He introduced his research into Some Like it Hot as a historical film, highlighting the film’s relation to history as being essential to its success. He considered Some Like it Hot in the light of the definition of historical film as that which has ‘a fictional plot but with a historical setting intrinsic to the action’ (Zemon Davis). Reading Some Like it Hot as a historical film demonstrates the challenge to understand the ‘work’ the setting is doing, and the cinematic text’s relation to the past.
DE closed with two questions that have been central to the workshop so far: ‘How do you get a handle on such large numbers of films?’, and ‘When do “current events” become history?’
GL presented ‘“This Simple Ribbon of Imprinted Celluloid”: Reflections on the Double Historicity of Film’. He traced developments in the idea of film as indexical to history, underlining the tendency of some to focus on questions of factual accuracy and political commitment, eliding the bigger historical issues a film can represent.
He presented the idea of films’ ‘“double historicity”’: their being simultaneously about the past they represent, and the present in which they are made. He also pointed to the possibility of a third historical moment in which a film is re-released.
AOH presented ‘Contemporary cinema and processes of historicization’. She introduced her work which views films which construct scenarios of contemporary life in Italy through a historical and transnational lens. Through cinema dealing with immigration, Italian films can show Italy’s dual migrant and colonial identity and its relationship with contemporary immigration.
She presented Bullot’s notion of ‘post-mortem cinema’ as a way of reading Italian cinema of immigration in its capacity to open time splits which allow different temporalities to coexist. This can facilitate an understanding of the negotiations of European identity as haunted (Derrida).
FA responded to the papers and chaired the panel discussion. He highlighted main topics covered in the panel: the relationship between true and false in historical film, the role of archival records, and the historicisation of the present.
FA underlined the importance of the dramatic to historical representation (the dramatic register gives seriousness). DE responded that the dramatic register only gives the illusion of seriousness, and focusing on melodrama may preserve stiff categorisations of genre.
FA asked GL how fiction’s ability to fill in the gaps in historiography can be viewed outside the framework of postmodernism. GL responded that it was more modern in the sense that factual inaccuracy can be a means of reaching historical accuracy.
FA asked AOH if use of archival footage adds to the historicisation of the present. AOH responded affirmatively: archival footage adds historical depth and shows a film’s intentions of seriousness. This led AOH to observe that the question of documentary keeps returning to the workshop discussion.
FA asked HC if the use of factual material in media shot while wars were still ongoing amounts to historicisation of the wars. HC responded that the use of factual material is related to the ‘anxiety of authenticity’ – giving the illusion of historical truth. GL raised the importance of considering how archival footage is used.
SG pointed out that Indian films present chronotopic moments which open the present to various histories. Thus one should look at how films are received and how audiences access different moments of trauma. GL contributed the idea of history as ‘rhyming’ – one moment recalling another.
SA highlighted the recent Fuocoammare (a documentary on life in Lampedusa, the tiny Mediterranean island that has become a target for migrants making the treacherous journey from North Africa) as a perfect historical film, as documentary that engages in storytelling. This raised again the question of whether the project should engage with historical films only through narrative films, and where the line between narrative films and documentary lies.
(Chair: Susanna Scarparo. Participants: Ivo Blom, Mark Goodall, Marco Cucco, Paolo Noto. Respondent: Christian Uva)
IB presented ‘Intermediality: Historical Painting/Historical Cinema’, which studied the relationship between historical epics and nineteenth century painting. Italian films directly cite paintings, and take props, costumes and visual conventions from nineteenth century visual culture.
IB proposed Rajewsky’s definition of intermediality, ‘the appearance of a certain motif, aesthetic, or discourse across a variety of different media’, as an important interpretative tool. Through the reproduction of painting(s) in cinematic form, Italian antiquity films can be seen to create their own ‘mise-en-scène of the past’.
MG presented ‘History, Paracinema and the Mondo film’ which analysed the ways history (Italian and global) is remade in Mondo films. He presented the Mondo film as a specifically Italian genre, and part of Italian films’ tendency to engage with questions of realism.
Mondo challenges traditional ideas of realism and documentary: it aims to express the inner truth of factual events, playing with reality in the style of parafiction; and presents itself as artificial, mixing aspects of neorealism, melodrama and photography.
MC presented ‘Lo studio (storico) dell’economia del cinema in Italia’. He discussed his experiences of taking an economic approach to studying Italian film. Three main issues for this approach are: access to sources, types of data and the (non-)community of academics.
A key challenge when collecting data is their lack of accessibility. We also need to consider the changing relevance of certain data over time. Finally, the dispersal of academics across continents, disciplines and institutions provides another challenge to be overcome.
PN presented ‘Industry’, which proposed a ‘methodological toolkit’ for studying Italian films. This contained four tools: archival research, the use films as touchstones rather than as the main objects of inquiry, production culture, and unmade films.
Moving films themselves away from the centre of our inquiries, and using archival research, we can understand the relationship between historical contexts and other influences to film.
CU responded to the presenters and chaired the panel discussion. CU asked IB if the concept of anachronism as a mode of expression of temporality and of the overdetermination of images’ meanings might be useful. IB responded that the idea of anachronism – objects ‘misplaced in time’ is less useful, and the flexibility of ideology allows for engagement with the overdetermined meaning of images.
CU wondered if Mondo films allow audiences to travel in a way that expresses globalisation, Western culture and European identity.
CU asked MC and PN how cinema can be a cultural expression of economics, and in how far the state can be seen as paternalistic towards filmmaking. PN noted that his choice of opera and combat genres was due to their intertextuality and intermediality. MW observed that censorship in film is a sign of state paternalism.
RBG asked what would happen if we subsume the director into a broad group of filmmakers. PN responded that the director should be seen as just one institution used to give a historical interpretation meaning.
AOL said that documentary film might be ruled out by the project because it is not ‘despised’ enough – that is, it does not have a low cultural status. In the other hand, the often-reviled Mondo films could be seen to be at the centre of Italian cinema, and so too the project.
BL raised a distinction between despised and marginalised: documentaries are marginalised by spectators but not despised by the Academy.
AOL discussed how IB’s paper indicates a canon of images in filmmaking – images invested with authority. Similarly, the auteur can be seen as a convention that invests films with authority. AOL observed that all of the above – issues of canon, auteurism and authority – could be related to academics’ own anxiety of authenticity.
(Chair and respondent: Giacomo Lichtner)
RBG highlighted the function of canon in naming trends and schools in film, and the way in which films excluded from the canon (such as ‘empire film’) may go un-named.
She described her work on the Italian empire film. RBG’s work involves rescuing and reintegrating films into national film culture, sometimes having to use collateral evidence due to the lack of material available.
She defined film as ‘precocious historiography’; film can show what has not been yet written, and ‘do’ history. Films collect fragments of history to produce their own archives, which may contradict official records and memories.
GL responded and chaired the discussion. He commented on Italian empire films’ significance to our understanding of Italy’s relationship towards history, power and identity, with the country tending to assume a postcolonial rather than colonist identity.
IB highlighted the issue of which versions are released or produced and asked if empire films are co-productions or nationalist. RBG responded that critics saw Italian empire films in nationalistic terms, but they were also shown abroad.
MG underlined the foregrounding of fragmentation (of the state of some of the films described, as well as the means to study them) in RBG’s paper: the ICIH project could use this as an approach to film, but be wary of producing fragmented research. RBG agreed there was a risk of the latter, but the intertextuality and overdetermination of film makes it easier to maintain connections.
RBG discussed the way in which tropes from the Italian empire film remain in contemporary popular culture, showing their afterlife beyond the archive.
RG mentioned the need for us to understand the vocabulary of discourses, networks of agencies and local technologies in order to study film in the past.
(Chair: Alan O’Leary. Participants: Marie Andersen, Bogdan Babych, Wendy Cook, Austin Fisher, Esther Harper, Peter Langdale, Jo Nockels, Deborah Parker)
BB opened the panel explaining how to make a successful funding bid and defining impact. It is one of three ways a scholar can add value to their work: dissemination, public engagement and impact.
BB highlighted three areas project contributors could consider: the social significance of the project and the Humanities in general; working with stakeholders; creating a resource to systemically capture historical resonances across films.
AOL underlined the importance of engaging with partners during the development phase of the project, in order to inform the project’s research questions, and not just communicate its results.
EH discussed the difference between public and educational engagement: in education one is dealing with a singular audience and educational regulations. She suggested History, Film Studies and Italian as subjects that the project could engage with.
AOL noted the need to consider differences in the school system in Italy, if the resources are to employed there (two teachers from a school in Sassari (Sardinia) were unable to attend the workshop).
PL suggested possible resources to use in schools. Resources for students could include: exercises, lists of films. Resources for teachers could include: teaching guides, worksheets, edited clips of films. The latter set could also be used for the general public.
PL said that, when creating the resources, it is important to bear in mind the target subject area – a resource for Italian should be different to one for History.
AOL suggested that, instead of a canon, the project could produce a ‘playlist’ of films and/or clips.
SS pointed to the wider educational applicability of Italian film – it can be used to challenge stereotypes and promote discussions of gender, sexuality, war etc. PL suggested that participants speak with PHSE (personal, social, health and economic) teachers to look into this.
SS suggested using her connections with the Monash centre in Prato to facilitate student communication across the world and make a global impact.
DP raised the need to negotiate between audience and programmer demand. Her figures show the need to increase screenings of Italian films across the UK. Italian films shown tended to the canonical, Cinema Paradiso making up one third of Italian film screenings.
DP suggested working with different user groups, and ensuring that outcomes are clear for each specific one.
JN suggested the project consider: thin knowledge as a way of engaging audiences, working with film montages or essays, focusing on the sound world, working according to diverse audiences and showing contexts, and understanding why an audience would want to come to events.
AOL said that we could look into working with the School of Music and employing a postdoc to assist.
MA discussed her ideas of using dance to relate to the project’s dialogues about methodology and impact. A dancer could embody a response to a film and put it on as a performance. She highlighted the connection between body movement and editing.
WC discussed her work with the Hyde Park Picture House. The cinema pushes for engagement with Higher Education and puts on events with film screenings and panels. They also have matrices for evaluation, measuring how many people attend, stay, and engage with the Q&A.
WC indicated the decreasing demand for subtitled cinema. A key aim can be to encourage younger audiences to watch subtitled films. DP said that this could inform one of the project’s research questions and help it to demonstrate economic impact.
(Chair: Shoba Ghosh. Participants: Austin Fisher, Dom Holdaway, Catherine O’Rawe, Susanna Scarparo, Respondent: Giacomo Manzoli)
AF presented ‘Historical Perspectives on the Transnational Dimensions of Italian Westerns’. His research seeks to address the limitations of the Italo-American focus previous studies have when treating the Western, considering the global influence on and reception of Italian Westerns.
He presented his video essay, ‘Spaghettis in Translation’, which enacts this relationship, ‘inviting the viewer to chart a spatial and cultural relationship between the films by the association of sequential clips’.
DH presented ‘Impegno and socially legitimate cinema’, discussing how his research into politically committed films could be applied to historical films. By asking ‘What does an Italian film have to “wear” to look “respectable”?’ and ‘according to whom?’ we might identify the framework that informs the discourse of social legitimacy in historical cinema. DH’s research has shown that the ‘whom’ of the latter question is made up of institutions (press, film festivals, university classes and MiBAC (the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Tourism), the public and specialists).
COR presented ‘“Lightweight” forms (the “returning soldier” film)’. She discussed her work on postwar Italian films which address the experiences of returning veterans. Such films may have been previously neglected due to their being melodramas in the time of neorealism’s ascendency.
The figure of the veteran functions as a symptom of repressed issues, disturbing official narratives of (anti-)fascism, war and masculinity. COR identified several tropes of the veteran film: love triangles, women’s work, misrecognition, return from the ‘dead’, silence and the unspeakable, and noir.
SS presented ‘Key issues to consider in studying (Italian) historical films: Gender’, which considered the relationship between film, national history and gender. The canon of Italian historical films privileges homosocial and heterosexual narratives. Thus female or non-heterosexual experiences are framed as marginal to national identity and history.
She suggested that more work needs to be done on an excluded body of films that diverge from the heterosexual and homosocial male-centred narrative. This research can use gender as a lens to radically reconsider issues central to the question of history and cinema.
GM responded and chaired the discussion. He asked AF if the Western could be considered in terms of transnational myths and postmodern ahistorical narratives. AF replied affirmatively: one can identify in the films ‘historical reference points cut adrift from historical anchors’.
GM raised the issue of auteurism in reference to SS’s paper – he suggested we need to look for a collective movement rather than single artists if we are to establish if society is progressing.
With reference to COR’s paper, GM suggested it could be the beginnings of an Italian trauma theory, and pointed to the complexity of victimhood.
GM asked DH if there is a good or bad performativity, or if performativity is something we can refuse. He also raised the question of ‘repugnant respectability’. DH clarified that his work only takes issue with discourses of respectability that moralise and make value judgements.
SG suggested that it could be interesting to look at dissonances as well as resonances across Westerns.
SG also said that it may be helpful to think about films in terms of transgressive cinema. SS replied that films might be transgressive in terms of what we do with them.
PN asked DH what would happen if there is no difference between interpellators of social legitimacy. DH replied that often there is some discontinuity between the public and institutions, and thus institutions don’t have total hegemony.
7. Methodologies and approaches (2)
(Chair: Austin Fisher. Participants: Bernadette Luciano, Alan O’Leary, Dana Renga, Christian Uva, Vito Zagarrio. Respondent: Robert Gordon)
BL presented her paper, ‘Found footage: border crossings’, which considered the impact of found footage on the different representation of history(ies). Films which use found footage appropriate sounds and images and place them in new contexts, creating new compositions (in contrast to compilations).
She proposed the border crossing aspect of found footage cinema as indexical to history, a site of merging collective and public memory.
AOL presented ‘Viewing and Listening at a Distance’ which considered Franco Moretti’s methodologies of ‘distant reading’ as a way of capturing a broader range of Italian films, creating a corpus (or corpora) rather than a canon.
AOL considered the advantages of distant reading methods to focus on units much larger or smaller than the film text, thus moving beyond the notion of text as the primary site of meaning.
DR presented ‘History and the “Quality” Film’. Her research with Danielle Hipkins used a survey method to question those who teach Italian cinema and television in Anglophone countries about which films and TV series between 2000-2015 they taught and how they would define ‘quality’.
The results of the research show several trends: privileging politically committed auteurs, perpetuating certain ‘quality’ taste patterns, a lack of teen films and/or films by female directors.
CU presented ‘L’anacronismo e la software culture’. He discussed the possibility that technological practices, e.g. compositing, create synthetic images of history, placing one layer of historical image over another. This can be understood through the concept of anachronism.
He considered films such as Romanzo criminale, Noi credevamo e La mafia uccide solo d’estate to show how images and characters could be inserted into the historical past, revealing history and memory as sites in which various temporalities cohabit.
VZ presented ‘“Il filo e le trace”: dove trovare un’altra storia’, which draws on Carlo Ginzburg’s text of the same name to consider the relationship between history and narration. In this way, we can think of both key terms of the ICIH project – history and cinema – as movable.
VZ discussed films that narrated medieval histories to highlight the mixture of fiction, fantasy and history at play in both historians’ and filmmakers’ work, and cinema’s ability to intuit the movement of history.
RG responded and chaired the discussion. He observed that the AHRC may respond well to the project questioning the privileged relation between cinema and history. He asked if we need a middle category between ‘past’ historical films and ‘contemporary’ historical films rather than considering all films automatically historical.
COR highlighted Tony Servillo’s status as an avatar of quality film, and asked DR if there was a female equivalent. DR responded that female stars held less weight and tended to be represented differently, but the closest equivalent would be Marguerita Buy.
AOL commented on DR’s research as supporting GM’s definition of Italian cinema as a ‘regime cinema’ (cinema di regime) – perhaps if teaching must conform to this regime, it can still encourage students to reflect on it. AOH noted the influence of subtitles on the canon of which films are taught.
7. Final Roundtable and Discussion
(Chair: Alan O’Leary. Participants: Ruth Ben-Ghiat, David Eldridge, Shoba Ghosh, Peter Langdale, Giacomo Manzoli, Jo Nockels)
AOL gave RBG’s apologies and presented her comments. RBG identified four key outcomes of the workshop. (1) The idea of temporality – cinema comes forth in talismanic moments; (2) Coupling definitions of ‘quality’ and ‘event’ to understand cinema; (3) The importance of using various methodologies; (4) The challenge of spectatorship to what academics hold dear.
DE suggested we need to explore with various participants the different layers of legitimation of the past and cinema. He noted a key question: ‘When is the past considered the past?’ He considered if we could use performativity as a criterion for this.
SG commented on her experience of the workshop – an interesting exercise in cultural translation between Italian film and her Indian frame of reference. She highlighted the absence of postcoloniality (though it was mentioned by AOH and RBG); the need to theorise terms such as ‘desire’, ‘cinema’ and ‘history’; and the need to study cinema halls and class.
PL noted that film students are often watching Italian films for the first time, which raises questions of cultural capital and films creating students’ sense of history.
GM commented on the different kinds of history that were proposed at the workshop, such as foreign/national, monumental/everyday, known/unknown, respectable/unconventional, distant/close etc.
JN identified key questions: how impact partners can inform the project’s research goals and research questions; if public presentations could give montages of images/films to form a corpus for the public; and how to negotiate the trope of the auteur given its normalisation by Hollywood and other film industries.
SA asked how we would confront the national – the ‘Italian’ in ICIH – as a narrative construct.
IB discussed how RBG’s research raises questions of version of films, particularly in the context of international distribution. This requires us to consider who are the gatekeepers of films, controlling which versions are distributed and where.
COR highlighted the influence of film criticism on distribution and teaching – a lack of criticism on a film restricts which films can be taught.
GM considered the need to read the universal in the particular – this could produce a third language for the project which would allow it to make its own definitions.
AOL closed the roundtable and the workshop, thanking all participants for a lively and productive two days.