CFP: Sights Unseen: Unfinished British Films (8/31/04; collection)

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Call For Papers: Sights Unseen: Unfinished British Films (Essay Collection)

Deadline for Proposals: 31st August 2004

This is a call for contributions to a proposed collection on British films
which, for a variety of reasons, did not make it to the screen. John Hill in
British Cinema in the 1980s (1999) focused his attention on 'how texts are
activated in relation to specific socio-historical contexts and, therefore,
how particular films may be read in relation to the specific circumstances in
which they were first produced and circulated.' This project seeks to
recover the stories of films which have never had chance to be semiotically or
culturally productive. They exist only as production contexts, with no
finished, consumable text to validate those efforts.

Since large numbers of indigenous films never receive theatrical distribution,
it seems particularly apt to include in the historical profile of British
cinema some of those productions which have never been exposed to public
scrutiny and reflection, which have never been able to contribute to the
nationally reflective role that cinema aspires to play. However, this project
is not about unreleased films, but about films which were never shot, or whose
shooting was never completed. In British Cinema in Documents (2000), Sarah
Street argues for a conception of film studies which includes a greater focus
on 'non-filmic sources.' This book will assess the significance of a
variety of 'non-filmic films,' constructing their histories through their
production documents.

I'm interested particularly in unfinished films of all genres from the
1890s to the present day, but I'm also open to stories of unrealised
projects by key British directors, lost/destroyed negatives, severe
censorship cases, financial constraints or distribution blockages. The
fragility of Britain's structures of film production means that, in order
to understand the factors which undermine them, it is essential to look at
those texts whose passage from page to screen was ultimately thwarted.
Most film-makers who have archived their business papers will have kept
the residual documents left behind from an aborted project, so I would
especially like to hear from archivists and historians with privileged
access to the kinds of vestigial traces through which incomplete films can
be reconstructed as historical texts. It is through archived collections
that these texts can be revivified from their remaining fragments, whether
they are script drafts, production notes or surviving footage.

Abstracts of 200-300 words, plus a brief c.v. should be sent by e-mail
( or by post to:

Dr Dan North
School of English/The University of Exeter
The Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture
The Old Library
Prince of Wales Road

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Received on Tue Aug 03 2004 - 10:12:15 EDT