CFP: [Film] Alternative Nonfictions: essay films, hybrids, and experimental documentaries

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Pamelyn Woo
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Alternate Non-Fiction: Essay Films, Hybrids, and Experimental Documentaries

Fifth annual cinema and media studies graduate-student conference

University of Chicago

Conference Date: April 5, 2008
Keynote Address: Richard Neer, University of Chicago

Deadline for Abstracts: January 1, 2008

Alternative Non-Fiction: Essay Films, Hybrids, and Experimental
Documentaries will be the fifth Graduate Cinema Conference at the
University of Chicago, a one-day event that will bring together graduate
students on cinematic theory and practice. Vaguely defined and broadly
inclusive, the term “essay film” has been used in popular and academic
discourse to describe a wide variety of alternative nonfiction films and
filmmakers that defy easy categorization. The term has been applied to the
practices as diverse as Chris Marker’s philosophical travelogues, Michael
Moore’s incisive polemics, William E. Jones’s queer archaeological
ruminations, Trinh T. Minh-ha’s explorations of post-colonial embodiment,
Ross McElwee’s filmed diaries, and Jean-Luc Godard’s meditations on art and
cinema. While certainly alternative and innovative in form, these
practices have historically been used to address social and political
issues, as well as intensely personal visions, in ways that are not often
open to conventional filmmaking.

With the rise of documentary in both mainstream and avant-garde film and
media practices, alternative nonfiction forms have taken on an increasingly
important place in filmmaking today. These practices have served as
supplements to and refutations of traditional modes of cinematic rhetoric
and representationâ€"bringing to the fore issues of medium specificity,
textual hybridity, and narrative conveyance. In this spirit, the
conference aims to examine the discourses that have arisen in these
alternative non-fiction practices and their implications for the wider
field of cinema studies.

We invite papers on a wide range of topics including, but not limited to:

--Conceptual frameworks for analyzing alternative nonfiction filmmaking.
--Formal and expressive possibilities afforded by alternative nonfiction.
--Filmmakers including: Vertov, Godard, Marker, Welles, Rappaport, Farocki,
Kluge, Akerman, Friedrich, Trinh, Errol Morris, Derek Jarman, Ross McElwee,
Cheryl Dunye, William E. Jones.
--Presentations and representations of minority subjectivities, including
but not limited to racial, postcolonial, sexual, and gendered minorities.
--Figurations of alternative desires (feminist, queer, postcolonial, and
--Politics and polemics in essay films.
--The social, political, and critical constructions of the
traditional/alternative dichotomy.
--Essayistic practices in narrative filmmaking.
--Cinematic essays in new media.
--First person documentaries and the diary film.
--Fiction and non-fiction hybrid films.
--The essay film and the underground/avant-garde traditions.
--Literary practices and essay filmmaking.
--And the larger issues raised by alternative nonfiction (originality,
public domain, aesthetic categories like romanticism and modernism,
cinematic ontology, indexicality in cinematic and digital images).

The keynote speaker will be Richard Neer, Department of Art History,
University of Chicago. Professor Neer has recently published an article in
Critical Inquiry titled “Godard Counts” on questions of cinematic evidence
in Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma. Working on the relationship between
style and politics, he has published widely on classical art,
historiography, Poussin, and French cinema.

The deadline for abstracts (300-400) words is JANUARY 1, 2008. Please
submit all abstracts to with “Conference Abstract” in
the subject heading.

Limited financial assistance for travel may be available for international

For more information, contact Adam Hart:; or Pamelyn

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Received on Tue Nov 20 2007 - 18:00:13 EST