CfP “Film Festival Cartographies” Symposium

Call for papers

“Film Festival Cartographies” Symposium
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
20-21 November 2014
Modena, Italy

The organisers invite prospective participants to submit abstracts for paper presentations at “Film Festival Cartographies”, a two-day symposium hosted by the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Studies, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and promoted by the Film Festival Research Network (FFRN) and the Ozu Film Festival.

Film festival studies have been drawing the attention of numerous academics for more than a decade now. Since the end of the 2000s, following the release of landmark theoretical monographs and series (de Valck 2007, Iordanova 2009-2014, Wong 2011), these studies have prominently grown into an independent research field. Moreover, due to the establishment of several networks aimed to develop scholarly research (like the Film Festival Research Network, Chinese Film Festival Studies Research Network, and European Festival Research Project), film festival studies have extensively and intensely expanded both in academia and festival events.

While the majority of publications have focused on feature film festivals, other so-called specialised branches of research have also emerged, focusing on documentary, LGBT/queer, short film, and human rights festivals, among others. Additionally, scholars from different fields of academia such as History, Anthropology, Sociology, Economy, Gender, Media and Film Studies, have drawn on diverse theoretical approaches to analyse the film festival phenomenon, which has become a particularly fertile field for interdisciplinary research.

These multiple perspectives on film festivals reveal the richness of festival sites, in terms of their cultural, political and economic complexity. As a global phenomenon, the dynamic expansion of the festival circuit involves the analysis of multiple, overlapping connections, which push the festivals’ symbolic and material borders. The global reach of festivals is formed by an ever-shifting group of festivals, entwined in a number of transnational networks and ‘circuits’ that have enabled international film circulation. Thus, film festivals have helped to shape the landscape of world cinema, whose imaginary and material geographies tend to both reflect and discuss the socio-spatial power of global film production.

The Film Festival Cartographies symposium endeavours to reflect on issues of global distribution, transnationalism, and on the social imaginaries and political economies embedded in film festivals. The symposium looks for contributions seeking to tackle the ‘social production’ of festival spaces (Lefevre, Harvey, Massey). Based on the idea of ‘critical cartographies’ (Harley, Wood), the event aims to explore the ways in which the festival ecosystem is constituted and marked in the world chart, and how festival maps could be understood as sites of power and knowledge. This involves thinking critically about the mapping strategies of both the festivals and the people working in the festival world. It also implies addressing the ways in which the festival circuit is imbedded in a particular ‘geopolitical aesthetic’ (Jameson) and how they reproduce certain ‘geographical imaginaries’ (Said). The discussion will be open to reflect on the various articulations between the dynamic structures of festival circuits and subjective festival experiences. Thus, it seeks to tackle, for example, the overlapping ‘mental maps’ (Jodelet, Lynch) that come into play at the festivals, related both to the personal trajectories at the festivals (Benjamin, de Certeau), and the festival‘s global position.

Therefore, we are interested in contributions that aim to explore, or challenge, the maps of international and regional film festivals. This mapping can be theoretical (on the various socio-political, morphological and economic aspects of festivals), as well as methodological, introducing new research approaches to the festival ecosystem.

The symposium seeks to continue enhancing the field of film festival studies, promoting the encounter between professionals and scholars from different academic backgrounds, and encouraging an interdisciplinary debate.

Confirmed keynote speakers are Dina Iordanova (University of St Andrews) and Marijke de Valck (University of Amsterdam).

Suggested topics for paper presentations include, but are not limited to:

  • Circuits, geographies and hierarchies in international film festivals
  • Subjective festival experiences: film festivals’ mind maps and perception
  • Mapping the “international” circuits, structuring the festival ecosystem
  • “Cosmopolitan” and “world cinema” imaginaries and film festivals
  • “Regional”, “national”, “international” festival categories and transnational festival practices
  • Global and local festival audiences
  • Travel, transit, and movements through the film festival network
  • Political economies of film festivals
  • Methodological approaches in film festival research

Please send a 200-word abstract proposal, and 3-5 keywords, along with your full name, institutional affiliation and short biography (ca. 50 words) to Enrico Vannucci and María-Paz Peirano at by 4th July 2014.

English will be the only official language of the symposium.

Participating papers will be eligible for publication in a volume edited by “Mimesis International” in April 2015.

Registration for the symposium will be available on later in the year.


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