Prises de rue

Street Takes: Streets and Roads in European Cinemas
Prises de rue: Prises de rue. Rues et routes dans les cinémas européens contemporains

Streets and roads constitute perhaps one of the most self-reflexively charged spaces in film history and theory. The very acquisition of a specific mobile point of view through traveling shots in early cinema overlapped with the discovery of the street as a filmic space, and streets have held out a singular fascination for filmmakers and film theorists ever since.

On the one hand, the street has formed the privileged locus for efforts to reclaim a specific authenticity for the filmic medium. Whether seen as the space of the “social” (the Weimar street film), the locus of the event and the encounter (neorealism), or the sphere of political action (1960s), the street has consistently been imagined as a counterpart to the controlled environments of the home, the workplace or the film studio.

On the other hand, streets and Roads have offered a frequent topes for working through problems of narrative, history (whether cultural, political or technological) and geography. From road movies to migration films, the cinema has continually been attracted to roads and routes as a forum for conceptualizing temporal and spatial trajectories. A glance at recent European film shows that this investment in streets and roads as filmic spaces has hardly abated today.

Montreal: 18-20 September 2008

For its inaugural conference, the Montreal Project on European Cinemas seeks to probe the question of how filmic constructions of the street have been transformed within the context of the “New Europe.” How have changes in European geography (unification, expansion and globalization), concepts of history (from declarations of the “end of history” to the return of the political) and not least of all audiovisual technologies (video, digital, satellite, etc.) affected the way streets and roads are portrayed in recent film. What hopes and fears do filmic streets embody today? While the focus of the conference will be on recent film and video, we encourage trans historical approaches. Submissions welcome in English or in French.

Possible topics include:

  • Streets, trajectories, narrative,history
  • Streets vs. Roads vs. Highways: differences and overlap
  • The street between movement and stasis; the legacy of the flâneur
  • Legacy of the street as public space; events, politics, conflicts
  • Legal aspects of street takes/taking the street
  • Surveillance, mapping and control spaces
  • Virtual streets, virtual travel
  • Modes of transportation
  • Mental geographies and the role of routes in the imagining the new Europe; migration; national vs. transnational routes.
  • Street as subject: does the street have eyes?
  • Street sounds: “direct sound,” ambient sound, etc.
  • Theorizing the street: the street and contemporary film theory

Please send abstracts (max. 250 words) accompanied by a short bio-bibliography and the titles of works treated in the proposed presentation to by January 15th.

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