CFP: Science and Documentaries (6/15/06; Film & History, 11/8/06-11/12/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Boon Tim
contact email: 

2006 Film and History League Conference
"The Documentary Tradition"
November 8-12, 2006

AREA: Science and Documentaries

Filmmakers who identify themselves as documentary makers have, throughout
the history of the form, made films that represent scientific themes. This
can be seen to have occurred at four levels:

* Where science and society touch most intimately, documentarists have
often made films that represent the scientific point of view. Examples
include nutrition science, public health, building design and medicine. Here
we may consider some of the films of Paul Rotha, including his masterpiece
World of Plenty (1943).

* Documentarists have often promoted scientific and technological
innovation. Many of the films of the GPO Film Unit promoting telephony are
relevant here.

* Documentarists have also often made films to convey scientific
information or technical expertise. Many of the films of the Shell Film
Unit, including the gearing film Transfer of Power (1939) or the Techniques
of Anaesthesia series made by the ICI Unit during World War Two are typical
of these.

* Documentarists have often used "scientific" theories of montage,
deriving from the Russian school of Kuleshov, Eisenstein, Pudovkin et al.

In virtually all these cases there has been close collaboration between
filmmakers and scientists, often to the extent of close advice on scripts,
scenarios and structure. Sometimes filmmakers have expressed the view that
scientific documentary is a distinct sub-genre; Edgar Anstey, for example,
described the nutrition film Enough to Eat? (1936) as 'a scientific film
made by scientists', even though he directed and produced it. In fact,
however, the boundary between scientific documentary and documentary in
general is difficult to draw in any absolute sense; rather, definitions are
specific to times and places; both scientists and filmmakers make claims
about how science should be represented on the screen.

Papers are invited that explore the relations of science and documentary
both in the cinema and on television.

The Film and History League conference details can be found at

The meeting will run from 8-12 November, 2006 in the Dolce Conference Center
near the DFW airport. A spectrum of other areas will evolve on the web
site over time.

Send all inquiries and proposals by 15th June 2006 to:

Dr Tim Boon,
Head of Collections, The Science Museum, London SW7 2DD
t: 020 7942 4207, f: 020 7942 4103

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Received on Tue Feb 14 2006 - 11:11:26 EST