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(CFP) American Independent Cinema conference, Liverpool

Liverpool, UK, 8 – 9 May 2009

An international conference co-organised by Claire Molloy (Liverpool John Moores University) and Yannis Tzioumakis (University of Liverpool). Keynote Speakers: Warren Buckland (Oxford Brookes University), Geoff King (Brunel University), Peter Kramer (University of East Anglia), Janet Staiger (University of Texas at Austin)

In recent years the field of American independent cinema has enjoyed particular critical attention. The publication of a number of studies on the subject and the development of courses that examine American independent cinema as a separate object of study from mainstream Hollywood cinema has demonstrated that American independent cinema is a distinct discursive category and therefore deserves to be explored in depth.

Despite the recent critical activity, however, there is still very little actual research undertaken in the field. To this day, most of the work on American independent cinema has focused on the period ranging from the 1960s to contemporary times while the lion’s share of the critics’ attention has gone to a relatively small number of canonical independent filmmakers or to certain paradigmatic independent films. Although the establishment of canons and paradigms in independent cinema has been extremely useful, especially because it identified the field as worthy of scholarly attention, it also delimited the field substantially.

This conference wants to rethink American cinema through the concept of ‘independence’ and the range of definitions that such a term encompasses. As such, this conference hopes to attract research in the field that extends far beyond conventional critical approaches that tend to focus on key filmmakers, often starting from Cassavetes and moving to more recent examples, and instead look at American cinema in general with a view of questioning particular practices while also offering a number of case studies from various historical moments. Topics might include but are certainly not limited to:

  • cinema at Poverty Row
  • independent filmmaking within the “confines” of the studio system
  • exploitation filmmaking
  • ethnic filmmaking
  • independent producers/distributors
  • classics divisions vs contemporary independents
  • the impact of technological change on independent filmmaking
  • independent film financing, marketing, advertising and publicity
  • institutionalising independence

Whilst we will consider papers that deal with any aspect of independence, we particularly welcome papers that seek to revise existing histories of American cinema, especially by re-opening cases of films, filmmakers and companies that hitherto have been considered as part of an increasingly loosely defined mainstream Hollywood. One of the key aims of this conference is to chart the past, present and future modes of film practice in the independent sector and to account for the plurality of forms and guises in which independent filmmaking has manifested in the United States. In this respect we hope the conference will facilitate a much needed re-evaluation of American cinema under the rubric of independence.

Please send proposals of up to 300 words to both C.Molloy@ljmu.ac.uk and Y.Tzioumakis@liverpool.ac.uk

Deadline for submission of proposals is Friday 28 November 2008.


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