Film Exhibition: The Italian Context (Symposium / Edited Volume)

deadline for submissions: 
October 17, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Damien Pollard & Edward Bowen
contact email: 

This symposium and edited volume seeks to draw together research into cinematic exhibition in Italy throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century. Current research into Italian cinema is continuously expanding its purview to consider the great range of genres, forms and contexts that have been engaged by filmmakers working in the country. Similarly, recent studies have shone vital light on the complex make up of Italy’s film audiences, and on the practices of film producers and distributors in the country. This project will continue this critical expansion by investigating the myriad ways in which film media (both Italian and foreign) has been exhibited and consumed in Italy. It aims to investigate both the audience experience of film exhibition and the practices of exhibitors themselves (eg their programming habits, the construction and restoration of cinemas, their relationships with distributors and political organisations etc). Possible subjects of discussion could include, but are not limited to:

  • The screening of silent/early films at travelling fairs and other public events

  • The establishment/construction of Italy’s first purpose-built cinemas

  • The conversion of Italian cinemas to sound

  • The screening of propaganda films in Italy and in the Italian colonies

  • The relationships between Italian cinemas and the Fascist Party’s domestic propaganda machine

  • The screening of films by the Catholic Church

  • The role of travelling/mobile cinemas in rural Italy

  • Arthouse cinemas, avant-garde film clubs and/or cinema d’essai screenings

  • The respective importance of first-, second- and third-run cinemas to the Italian film


  • The relationships between film distributors and exhibitors in Italy

  • The development of drive-in cinemas in Italy

  • The screening of industrial films in Italy

  • The emergence of the multiplex in Italy

  • The history of Italian cinema chains

  • The links between film exhibition practices and political activism and/or avant-garde

    filmmaking in Italy

  • The exhibition of migrant/diasporic films

  • The evolving role played by television in the exhibition of Italian films

  • The role currently being played by online streaming and VOD in Italy

  • Ad-hoc open-air screening of films in Italy during the Covid-19 pandemic

  • The political and social importance of certain cinemas in Italy

  • The effects of technological innovation on film exhibition in Italy

  • Exhibitor associations, their lobbying efforts and their responses to regulations

  • The social/cultural significance of certain cinemas to their local communities

  • The effects of demographic shifts on cinema exhibition in certain locations

  • Programming patterns in certain cinemas

  • Programming patterns as they relate to specific films or genres

    The ways in which films have been exhibited in Italy has often had much to say about the state of the country’s film industry at a given point in history. Changes to exhibition models can also be read as markers of wider changes in Italian society and culture, and this project invites contributions that aim to connect specific case studies to wider historical trends and issues. We also invite studies of a comparative and/or interdisciplinary nature, that might be grounded partly or predominantly in the disciplines of geography, architectural history, urban studies or political science, for example.

    This project will begin with a one-day symposium that we aim to hold (tentatively) on 01 July 2022 (in person in Cambridge, UK, or online, as circumstances allow). This event will give contributors the opportunity to deliver 15-minute presentations on their research and to gather feedback through discussion with other participants. Please note that, should the symposium take place in person, the organisers will be unable to fund travel and accommodation for contributors, but will be happy to suggest affordable options. Final chapters for the edited volume will be required in September 2022. An agreement in principle has already been obtained for the publication of the volume, which will be released as part of the MHRA Moving Image series, published by Legenda.

    Key Dates (Provisional):

• 17 October 2021: Deadline for proposals

  • 22 November 2021: Notification of decisions (please note that final acceptance of submissions will be subject to peer review)

  • July 2022 (Date TBD): One-day symposium

  • 16 September 2022: Deadline for completed chapters

    Final chapters should be 6000-8000 words in length, excluding notes and references. Proposals should include a 300-word abstract, a short bibliography and a short biography of the contributor. Co-written contributions are welcomed.

    We request that proposals and final chapters be submitted in English. In cases where this presents a barrier to submission, we ask that potential contributors reach out to us so we can discuss solutions.

    Please send proposals and any questions to BOTH Damien Pollard (Junior Research Fellow, Clare College, University of Cambridge) at and Edward Bowen (Assistant Teaching Professor of Italian, University of Kansas) at