“The City Plays Itself: cinema and the city”

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
The Apollonian: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

The City Plays Itself: cinema and the city”

Guest edited special issue of The Apollonian: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Vol. 5 Issue 2 (June, 2018)

José Duarte, School of Arts and Humanities – Universidade de Lisboa/ULICES/FCT & Luís Urbano, School of Architecture – Porto University/CEAU


In The Cinematic City: Film in Urban Societies in a Global Context (2001), Mark Shiel & Tony Fitzmaurice focus on the intricate connection between cinema and urban space, perceived at different levels. Thematically, cinema is fascinated with representing the city, registering different spaces, life-styles, experiences and possibilities. Formally, cinema has the ability to capture and reproduce the spatial complexity of the urban tissue and its social dynamics. The city, therefore, is a source of great inspiration for cinema, finding in the urban text an opportunity to explore modernity (space and time, memory and mobility, stasis and fluidity), as the moving image is “an advanced cartographical apparatus” (Webber 2008: 2).

The relationship between cinema and the city is long-established, as is the case of early films like L’Arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat (1895) by the Lumière Brothers, or the City Symphony genre – such as Strand and Sheeler’s Manhatta (1921) or Ruttman’s 1927 Berlin: Symphony of a Great City. These are great examples of how the early twentieth century was a period of “emergence of the modern metropolis” (Webber 2008: 5) and with it the emergence of cinema as a means to record that experience.

During the pre-modern, modern and post-modern era different cinematic genres and visual styles that captured spatial experience came into existence. City Symphonies, German Expressionism, Experimental, Avant-Garde, Gangster Film, Noir and Neo-noir, Italian Neo-Realism, Nouvelle Vague, Contemporary City-films, Documentaries, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror and, more recently, Superhero films, all reveal multiple visions of the city that offer the opportunity to reflect upon the metropolis and the moving image. These readings present a perspective of the city as a place of transit and transition, motion and emotion (Giuliana Bruno 2008), but also allow for the creation of an archive that registers and “reflects the changes in the urban landscape” (Woijcik 2014).

The many faces of the city – mediated through the lenses of distinct directors and artists – offer perspectives that interrelate various styles, narratives and ideologies. Cinematic cities have been depicted as nostalgic places, romantic spaces, real and imaginary, utopic and dystopic, but also dark and dangerous or alienated. At the same time, the work on the city and cinema has been subjected to interdisciplinary analyses that range from film studies, cultural studies, architecture, visual culture, and geography to urban planning.

Some texts are organized as a general overview of the relationship between the city and cinema (Clarke 1997; Fitzmaurice & Shiel 2001 and 2003; Barber 2004), other anthologies open the discussion to several areas (Mitchell 2004; Mennel 2008; Harper & Rayner 2010; Koeck & Robert 2010) or explore the city-film in very specific contexts, genres, or spaces (Alsayyad 2006; Lindner 2006; Zecker 2007; Brunsdon 2007; Webber & Wilson 2008). This multidisciplinary approach produces a wide range of interpretations of the cinematic city, manifesting “ideas and ideals” (Woijcik 2014) in an increasingly globalized world.

Considering the many features of the relationship between the city and cinema, this special issue of The Apollonian, will be dedicated to the correlations between reel and the real, the interrelation between cinema and the city as subject/character. The aim of this thematic issue is, therefore, to offer a series of essays, a broader but specialized view on the cinematic city, by focusing on the urban as an essential cinematic space. “The City Plays Itself – cinema and the city”, with the title echoing Thom Andersen’s film, works towards a collection of creative and groundbreaking essays that examine the many issues arising from the dialogue between the different theoretical approaches and the work of directors. Moreover, since the cinematic city is not restrained to one single vision, this issue also reflects upon the multifaceted perspectives and meanings of the filmed spaces, urban changes and characters that inhabit them.

We seek platform papers and original critical articles which address these concerns from a variety of perspectives. Themes may include, but are not limited to:

  • Cinema and Urban Space
  • Cinema as the product and producer of the city
  • Cinematic genres and the city
  • Cities of Love series
  • Cities of the World
  • City Symphonies
  • Cultural Geographies
  • Documentaries on specific cities
  • Dystopic and Utopic Visions
  • Flâneur/Flâneuse and Flanêrie in general
  • Memory, Identity
  • Motion and Emotion
  • Noir and Neo-Noir approaches
  • Real and Imagined Spaces
  • Reinventing geographies
  • Romantic/Nostalgic Visions of the City
  • Style, Narrative and Ideology
  • Sites of creativity, pleasure and excitement
  • Space, politics and Identity
  • Stasis and Movement
  • Soundscapes
  • Time and the City
  • Transitional Spaces
  • Urban Journeys

Papers of up to 5000 words using MLA referencing style, accompanied by an abstract within 300 words, must be submitted using the online submission interface on the journal’s Submission page by the 15th January, 2018. The Word file should be named “Submission-June 18-Author Name”. Before submitting, please prepare your manuscript following the journal’s guidelines which can be found here: http://theapollonian.in/index.php/submission-guidelines/. Revised submissions should be sent by 15th March 2018 for the June 2018 edition.

Enquiries/submission proposals should be directed to José Duarte (School of Arts and Humanities – Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal) and Luís Urbano (School of Architecture, Portugal) at citycinema2018@gmail.com