Imre Szeman

Cosmopolitan Film Cultures

Upcoming Project Events

October 11-13, 2012: Negative Cosmpolitanisms (Conference @ U of Alberta)

Project Description

This is a project that I am engaged in with my colleagues Heike Härting (English, Université de Montréal) and Markus Heide (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), and which is funded by each of our universities and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

The project is organized around two guiding questions:

We’re interested in understanding the impact of the transformations and deformations that culture has undergone over the past two decades and its impact on film. The images and sounds of cinema were one of the defining cultural forms of the twentieth-century, giving shape to our collective and individual imaginings and generating unique encounters with the social, cultural and political experiences of others around the globe. Cinematic forms continue to circulate globally, as they have always done; however, the new material conditions in which they are produced and transmitted have had an impact on what cinema does (or can do). While many critics view cinema as being on its last legs, we will investigate the new possibilities that have also come into existence for contemporary feature film and documentaries in specific contexts around the globe.

While we will look generally at the globalizing dimensions of film on the level of narrative, theme and production, the word ‘cosmopolitian’ suggests a specific concern, and that is with the ways in which film engages with questions of global justice, sovereignty, multiple and coinciding modernities at the local and global level, and multiple cross-national symbolic languages of belonging and marginalization. My colleagues plan to investigate cosmopolitanism as it relates to humanitarianism and militarism in Canadian and Hollywood cinema (Härting) and at transnational cinema and the US/Mexico and Canadian border (Heide). My contribution will be to look at the global emergence of the human rights and ecological documentaries, and the effects of new conditions of production and reception on the shape of the politics of documentary cinema.

A special issue of Cultural Critique, an edited volume (published by McGill-Queen’s University Press), and a triple-authored book (published by Palgrave-MacMillan) will emerge out of this project.