Failed Cinema

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
SFSU Cinema Studies Graduate Student Association
contact email: 


Conference Dates: October 18th-19th, 2018.

Keynote Speaker: Richard T. Rodriguez, University of California, Riverside

Deadline for Submissions: August 15th, 2018


At what point can an artistic endeavor be defined as a failure? If a film achieves critical acclaim and countless accolades, yet disappoints in its returns at the box office, has it failed? Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was the second highest-grossing film in the US and Canada as well as the bestselling home media release of 2009. However, the film was panned critically, holding a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes and winning three Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay at the 30th Annual Golden Raspberry Awards. Some “bad” movies have faded into obscurity while others have endured as guilty pleasures and cult classics. 2003’s The Room, generally considered one of the worst movies of all time, enjoys regular screenings in packed theaters for adoring fans. Is it fair to refer to either of these films as “failures”? What if a film fails in its domestic country, but enjoys massive successes with international audiences? What contributes to these outcomes and who gets to decide what constitutes such a subjective designation? Critics, audiences, scholars, other filmmakers? This conference seeks to explore failed media, acknowledging all the nuanced and slippery connotations encapsulated in the very concept of failure. Topics may include but are not limited to:


  • Critically panned films

  • Domestic/International box office failures

  • Shelved films and uncompleted projects due to studio interference, financial pitfalls or cultural controversies.

  • Cult films, their fanbases and the studios or creators responsible for them.

  • Films that failed in their own country but were successful abroad (with critics or audiences)

  • Financial/production failures, movies that had issues related to their production that either caused their failures or prevented their release

  • Controversial subject matter that caused a film to fail at the time of its release

  • Intentionally “bad” movies (i.e Sharknado)

  • Failed remakes/adaptations


Keynote bio:

Richard T. Rodríguez is associate professor of Media and Cultural Studies and English at the University of California, Riverside, where he is also cooperating faculty in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Speculative Fictions and Cultures of Science. He specializes in Latina/o literary and cultural studies, film and visual culture, and queer studies with additional interests in transnational cultural studies, popular music studies, and comparative ethnic studies.


As a graduate student conference, we are accepting submissions from graduate students, lecturers, post-doctorate, and adjunct faculty of all disciplinary backgrounds as well as submissions not strictly academic in nature. We welcome presentations and video essays on papers, films, and other forms of visual media. As Cinema Studies is related to all aspects of visual and moving image media, we encourage all presentations to contain some type of visual accompaniment. In order to be considered, please submit an abstract of your presentation (200-300 words) as well as a brief biographical statement (100 words) and CV to Mychal Shanks and Kirk Mudle at Upon acceptance, your work will also be eligible for inclusion in our online journal, Cinemedia: Journal of the SFSU School of Cinema.


Deadline for Submissions: August 15th, 2018.