CFP: Contemporary American Realist Cinema - SCMS 2010 (Aug. 15 Deadline)

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Society of Cinema & Media Studies Conference - Los Angeles - March 17-21
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CALL FOR PROPOSALS – Contemporary American Realism panel at SCMS 2010

Chair: Justin Horton

Given that one of the goals of SCMS is to consider the "ways in which the past informs current practices," this panel endeavors to explore contemporary American realist films and filmmakers in light of a recent debate surrounding New York Times critic A.O. Scott's suggestion of an American "neo-neorealism." This moniker drew vehement objection from New Yorker blogger Richard Brody and a subsequent weighing in from David Bordwell on his blog. Clearly, the debate over cinematic realism, one of the medium's most enduring problems, remains unsettled. What are we to make of contemporary film that evinces a neorealist influence? Is it simply postmodern pastiche or the re-flourishing of a tendency that never really went away? Further, why does the United States prove to be a particularly fertile ground for realism and why now? It is the goal of this panel to interrogate contemporary American cinematic realism, its antecedents, its consequences, and its contexts.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

- "Mumblecore" films (Swanberg, Bujalski, Katz, The Duplass Brothers)
- The work of Rahman Bahrani and Transnational American cinema
- Issues of cinematic ontology in light of digital technologies (production, exhibition, distribution)
- The impact of the web/social networking/user-generated content on conceptions of realism
- The possibilities of realism in a postmodern era
- Classical theories of cinematic ontology (Bazin, Kracauer, Cavell) vs. contemporary theories (Rodowick, Deleuze, Perez)
- Political, ethical, and aesthetic consequences of realism

Please send 250-450 word abstracts, a brief list of anticipated sources, and a one-paragraph biography to Justin Horton ( by August 15, 2009.