The IFVCR Network Conference ‘You Talkin’ to Me?’: Dialogue and Communication in Film

5th–6th June 2017

The conference ‘You Talkin’ to Me?’: Dialogue and Communication in Film, organized by the Interdisciplinary Film and Visual Culture Research (IFVCR) Network, took place at Cardiff University in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies on 5th–6th June 2017.

The aim of the conference was to provide a platform for researchers and practitioners to present new research and developments relating to the comparatively underrepresented areas of dialogue and communication in film.

We were interested in language-centered readings of films and we encourage novel theoretical perspectives and methodologies for the analysis of film dialogue.

The presentations this year varied from ordinary language philosophy in Pulp Fiction (1994) to the communication of gender in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

Keynote Speakers

Prof. John Mowitt

Dr. David Sorfa


Monday 5th June

9.00 – 10.00 – Registration in Bute Foyer and Breakfast in Bute Café

10.00 – 10.15 – Introduction in Room 0.14

10.15 – 11.30 – Keynote – John Mowitt in Room 0.14

11.45 – 12.45 – Panel 1 – Talkin’ through Gender – Rebecca Wright and Sara Sylvester in Room 1.20

11.45 – 12.45 – Panel 2 – Talkin’ through Voices – Olga Kolokytha and Müge Turan in Room 0.31

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch in Bute Café

14.15 – 15.15 – Panel 3 – Talkin’ through Gender – Lisa Liang and Clare Cheverall in Room 1.20

14.15 – 15.15 – Panel 4 – Talkin’ through Screenwriting – Valentina Signorelli and Paolo Braga in Room 0.31

15. 30 – 16. 15 – Special Session – Paul Bowman in Room 0.14

16.30 – 17.30 – Wine in Room 0.05

Tuesday 6th June

9.00 – 10.00 – Registration in Bute Foyer and Breakfast in Bute Café

10.00 – 11.15 – Keynote – David Sorfa in Room 0.14

11.30 – 12.30 – Panel 1 – Talkin’ through Philosophy – Evelina Kazakevičiūtė and Kyle Barrowman in Room 1.20

11.30 – 12.30 – Panel 2 – Talkin’ through Storytelling – Victoria Anderson and Csaba Fazekas in Room 0.31

12.45 – 13.45 – Lunch in Bute Café

14.00 – 15.00 – Panel 3 – Talkin’ through Theory – Hiu M. Chan and Naz Önen in Room 1.20

14.00 – 15.00 – Panel 4 – Talkin’ through Reception – Inês Rebanda Coelho and James Rendell in Room 0.31

15.15 – 16.00 – Special Session – Daniel Aguilar Rodriguez, Sergio Roncallo-Dow, Enrique Uribe-Jongbloed in Room 0.14

Anderson, Victoria. Articulating Sankofa: Is Dialogue in Film a Continuation of the Oral Tradition?

Technologies of storytelling have changed over many centuries, with the oral tradition in Europe having been affected and gradually replaced by the written word and the printing press during the modern period and altered incrementally with successive technological developments. Though primarily viewed as a visual means of cultural production, film narrative technique is overwhelmingly dictated by the dialogic form, which echoes more traditional dramatic forms; although it can be argued that the Western tradition of dramatic stage dialogue itself evolved from oral storytelling traditions and Homeric narrative. This paper will consider the 1993 film Sankofa (Haile Gerima) in relation to the oral storytelling tradition. ‘Sankofa’ is both a film and a West African word-concept that suggests the necessity of remembering the past in order to move forward. The film deals with the severance of the West African oral tradition as memory and as a consequence of slavery and colonialism. My paper will seek to explore the relation of film dialogue to storytelling and memory, both in Western and postcolonial contexts, and the extent to which the medium offers up strategies of resistance for the future.

Victoria Anderson was awarded her PhD in Cultural Studies from the University of Leeds in 2006. Since then, she has taught Visual Cultures and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths College and Kingston University before spending several years working in research-based learning technology and deep learning methods out of the University of Bristol. Currently, she is a Visiting Researcher and teacher at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and her particular interests concern the way that (dominant) narratives shape human culture and the extent to which this is dictated by technologies. Relevant objects of study may be any form of narrative, from Ancient Greek myth to social media bots.

Barrowman, Kyle. ‘English, motherfucker, do you speak it?’ The Ordinary Language Philosophy of Quentin Tarantino.

In recent years, film scholars have been increasingly preoccupied with questions as to how films can ‘do’ or ‘be’ or ‘be used for’ philosophy. From the ‘be used for’ position, films are seen as mere examples or jumping-off points to philosophy ‘proper’; from the ‘be’ position, films are seen as philosophy, as simply another form of philosophical argumentation; and from the ‘do’ position, films are seen as examples or illustrations of preexisting philosophical positions/protocols. In this presentation, I will operate from the ‘do’ position and explore how Quentin Tarantino ‘does’ ordinary language philosophy. Renowned for his innovative and influential dialogue, I intend to shine a light on a neglected aspect of Tarantino’s writing style and examine, with reference to the work of ordinary language philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, and Stanley Cavell, the argumentative protocols discernible in some of Tarantino’s most celebrated sequences of dialogue. Focusing on Pulp Fiction in particular, I will discuss such concepts as ‘explaining the syntactics’ versus ‘demonstrating the semantics’, ‘projective imagination’, and the ‘dawning of an aspect’, over the course of which I hope to indicate the fecundity of the continued study of Tarantino’s justly famous dialogue.

Kyle Barrowman is a PhD student in the School of Journalism, Media, and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. He is the assistant coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Film and Visual Culture Research (IFVCR) Network and the assistant editor of the Martial Arts Studies journal. His research focuses on issues of philosophy and aesthetics throughout the history of film.

Bowman, Paul. ‘Oh, no! That’s karate!’ Speaking of Martial Arts (in Non-Martial Arts Films).

Michael Molasky’s exploration of Japanese and Okinawan feelings about the American occupation proceeds by looking at the way America and the occupation feature in a wide range of Japanese and Okinawan literature of the post-war period. Molasky’s focus is not literature specifically about the occupation or about Americans; rather it surveys Japanese and Okinawan literature in general, for clues, evidence, and interesting cases. In a similar spirit, and using a similar approach, this presentation (which is part of a larger inquiry into wider feelings and ideas about ‘martial arts’ in Western popular culture) will look at examples of dialogue about martial arts in non-martial arts films. In other words, for the purposes of this exercise, the focus is resolutely not on martial arts action itself, but only on dialogue about martial arts. Moreover, films that are widely regarded as ‘martial arts films’ will also be disallowed. The premise is that films, in various ways, record, register and deploy wider discursive sensibilities, configurations, structures of feeling and so on; and the objective is to begin to glean some insights into the discursive status and conceptual, associative and connotative configurations of ‘martial arts’ in contemporary English language popular culture. (The reasons for wanting to do this are complex and perhaps beyond the scope of a short paper, but I will try to gesture to the wider value of such a project.)

Paul Bowman is Professor of Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. He is director of a martial arts studies journal, book series, research network and annual conference. His most recent book is Mythologies of Martial Arts (2017).

Braga, Paolo. Mapping Subtext by Using Thematic Coordinates.

The aim of the proposed paper is to discuss the notion of subtext in cinematic dialogue and to sketch a map of the main types of subtext drawing on the principles common to the narrative theories elaborated by Chris Vogler (1992), Robert McKee (1998), Dara Marks (2006), and John Truby (2007). A pivotal concept in my argument will be the one of theme as it is explained in the main screenwriting textbooks: The theme of a story is intimately connected to the protagonist’s change in relation to the values at stake. Theme consists in the values that inspire the deep dramatic construction of the character – the moral need that defines him. Building on the importance of the moral flaw of the protagonist, I will identify four types of subtext, depending on whether it lies more on the flaw of the protagonist or on a hidden agenda he has and whether subtext is or isn’t shared by all the characters in the scene. In particular, I will discuss the emotional density of subtext when it stems from the moral flaw of the protagonist and it is not shared with other characters. This happens when the writer uses dramatic irony and plays with the idea of fate.

Paolo Braga, PhD, is assistant professor at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, where he teaches Screenwriting. At the Università Cattolica he also teaches in the Master in International Screenwriting and Production program. He has published extensively on the topics of the construction of empathy with character and of U.S. television series. The rhetorical and persuasive dimensions of storytelling are his general research area, which he has treated in several articles and essays. Among his most recent publications is Words in Action: Forms and Techniques of Film Dialogue (2015).

Chan, Hiu M. ‘Release Me’: Seeking Communications Beyond the Empire of Signs

When semiology as a method entered the field of film studies as a major theoretical transformation and further institutionalised the discipline in the 1970s, the specificities and value of communication through films were replaced by a particular discourse alongside the establishment of an ‘empire of signs’. While the method claimed to reveal the Real and sometimes repressed communication in a film text according to scholars who praised it for its theoretical advance, I argue that this empire of signs in fact created a hierarchy in knowledge production with respect to making sense of how film communicates with different audiences. Disagreements regarding this theoretical intervention at its inception were not invisible, but the empire still remains as a dominant paradigm across our current academic practices. Therefore, this article aims to once again draw our attention to reflect on the particular method of semiotics, its initial intellectual agendas as well as its theoretical limitations in understanding film communication. This review paper will problematise a representative essay which Roland Barthes wrote about cinema and semiology entitled ‘The Problem of Signification in Cinema’ ([1975] 2016) and the logic on which it rests.

Hiu M. Chan is a PhD candidate in the School of Journalism, Media & Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. She is currently working as Research Assistant & Leverhulme Project Facilitator at the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University. She also writes as a columnist for the Chinese-UK Times.

Cheverall, Clare. ‘I am quite a talker’: The Gendered Dialogue of Austen’s Miss Bates in Adaptations of Emma.

The speech community of Highbury is at the heart of Austen’s Emma and its adaptations; dialogue drives narrative and reveals character. Women are at the heart of this dialogue, from privileged female characters, such as Emma and Mrs. Elton, to, more tellingly perhaps, those who are marginalised, such as Miss Bates. The character of Miss Bates has presented specific opportunities and challenges for adaptations of the novel, particularly those of the 1990s and 2000s. This paper argues that the gendered idiolect of Miss Bates in Austen’s novel opens her to comedy but not to ridicule; she suffers from what Tanner calls a ‘a kind of logorrhoea’ but is a character of whom everyone thinks well. However, both adaptations from 1996, Douglas McGrath’s Emma and Andrew Davies’s Emma, appear to render Miss Bates and her gendered dialogue as ridiculous. Conversely, Sandy Welch, in her 2009 Emma, uses dialogue to create a much more nuanced, sympathetic and feminist reading of the character. This paper argues that these representations echo a trend in adaptations of Austen, with more recent adaptations casting gendered behaviour and dialogue in a new light.

Clare Cheverall has recently completed her PhD ‘Gendered Dialogue in the Novels of Jane Austen and their Adaptations’ at Teesside University. This thesis examined the construction of gendered discourse in Austen’s novels and the iteration or reworking of this dialogue in televisual and cinematic adaptations, interrogating the ways in which adaptations from the 1990s and 2000s attempt to interpret gendered speech of the past. Her research interests include adaptations, feminism, gender studies and the long eighteenth century.

Coelho, Inês Rebanda. Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Communication: The Authorship for the Audience.

What are the communication characteristics in a film or in its marketing that make the audience attribute, with more frequency, authorship to certain cinema professions? There are three main particularities, external to the work, that influence audience perception: The cinema industry and all the marketing around it (the author-celebrity); the social groups where they are inserted and their respective opinions before and after viewing the film work; and, finally, their tastes, interests, preferences and knowledge. That leads us to two kinds of communication defined as interpersonal and intrapersonal, which are, possibly, most responsible for the authorship recognition of a collaborative work. “The author is a modern figure, produced no doubt by our society” (Barthes, 1978, p.142). This investigation fragment appeared in the authorship analysis context in joint works by the Author’s Rights legislation, to discover until what point the law follows its social and/or industrial view in this matter. With this, the goal to detect where the authorship resides for the common spectator came up, along with in what way the perspective of the audience affects the cinema industry and its law.

 Inês Rebanda Coelho is a PhD student in Communication Sciences at the University of Minho. She works as a freelance producer and producer advisor, with projects that were recognized at great Portuguese and foreign festivals and events. She has a Bachelor’s in Sound and Image and a Master’s in Cinema and Audiovisual with a specialization in Cinema Production at the Catholic University of Porto. With national and international conferences and publications within research themes that she uses to work within cinema and television production, joint works authorship, authors’ rights and copyrights. Nowadays, she works in collaboration with the Cultural Association Replicantes as an invited producer and with GT Jovens Investigadores a SOPCOM research group

Fazekas, Csaba. Spectacle or Art? Non-Verbal Storytelling in Eastern European Cinema.

By drawing on the films of Miroslav Slaboshpytskyi (The Tribe [2014]) and Gyorgy Palfi (Hukkle [2002]), this talk outlines a theoretical argument for the epistemological point of films without dialogue. The non-dialogue technique is central to elaborate storytelling with unusual narrative methods, involving experimentations with what a character without spoken words can feel and do. In most cases, these attempts get stuck at the level of being a mere spectacle; in some cases, however, they can be considered gems of film history. As seen in the Polish film The Tribe, this spectacle is not the opposite of seriousness or tragedy. Nevertheless, in the Hungarian Hukkle, the bold experiment of telling the story of a series of murders can be witty and tense. The paper tries to find the point when a non-verbal film becomes a piece of art for its own sake and eliminating dialogues proves to be the adequate way to treat the story. These experiments allow for pushing the boundaries of previously fossilised audience habits in conjunction with reading the narrative of the film. This talk argues that films without dialogue have developed novel avenues for some subtle narrative techniques while continuing to question its epistemological justification in general and in the light of these two films.

Csaba Fazekas is a PhD/DLA student at the University of Theatre and Film Arts of Budapest, Hungary, where he graduated as a Film Director in 2000. He won the Prize for Best Debut for his first feature film, Happy Birthday! (2004) at the Hungarian Film Week. Since 2004, he’s been working on as a freelance Film and TV director. His second film Swing was made in 2014. He has an interest in teaching young filmmakers in the near future, and as a director, he always tries to connect theory with practice. The title of his doctoral thesis is ‘Hollywood in The Box: The New Era of American Quality-TV. He has spent the academic year in 2016- 17 at the Film Department of University of Kent as an Erasmus PhD student.

Kazakevičiūtė, Evelina. ‘I wouldn’t trust no words written down on no piece of paper’: Jim Jarmusch, Jacques Derrida and the Critique of Logocentrism.

Taking a Derridean standpoint on the history and evolution of cinema, one could make the case that, since the shift from silent to sound cinema, film has been preoccupied with and dominated by speech. It became, in a word, logocentric. However, American indie director Jim Jarmusch is one of the few filmmakers whose work decenters the spoken word. His films suggest that silence, gestures and facial expressions can tell as much as, if not more than, words, whereas writing is as eloquent as, if not more eloquent than, speech. In this presentation, I will examine the significance of the written word in the Jarmusch oeuvre – i.e., letters in Dead Man (1995) and Broken Flowers (2005), messages in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999) and poetry in Paterson (2016) – and argue that his films can be read as critiquing logocentrism. Applying the notions of absence, iteration, meaning and interpretation to the exploration of written communication in Jarmusch’s films, I will demonstrate how the Derridean conception of communication manifests in them. My presentation will shed new light on the representation of the written word and the problems of language and communication on screen – issues typically absent in Hollywood films, thus further enforcing Western metaphysics.

Evelina Kazakevičiūtė is a PhD student in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) at Cardiff University. She is the Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Film and Visual Culture Research (IFVCR) Network and an editor of JOMEC Journal. Her thesis is entitled ‘The Poststructuralist Conception of Communication as Reflected in Jim Jarmusch’s Films’. Her areas of interest are communication theory, the philosophy of communication, poststructuralism, and film.

Kolokytha, Olga. Language and Text as Communicative Tools in Animated Opera.

This paper discusses functions of dialogue, characterisation in film, lip-sync and translation in The Cunning Little Vixen Project, almost certainly the first of its kind, producing an hour-long animated treatment of an opera and the only one based on the cartoon strip that inspired Leoš Janáček’s opera The Cunning Little Vixen, composed between 1921 and 1923. The project, which has received many awards such as the Best Music Programme at the International Television Festival Golden Prague, the R10 Classica repertoire and a Diapason d’Or, was co-produced by BBC Classical Music Television Department, Worldwide, Opus Arte and Los Angeles Opera, in addition to several other partners. The key creative process was to analyse all aspects of making a film of an opera and to then instigate changes to existing procedures, which together added up to a new invention. Animation allowed production of original versions with new casts in different languages, with the characters singing in lip-sync. Language versions to date include English, Spanish, Catalan, Czech, French, German and Polish, and the translations for each language version were commissioned to experts who worked with both the text and the animated film. The project has contributed to audience outreach, engagement and development, with more than 3 million people having experienced it in one of its formats (DVD, cine-concert, education programme).

Dr. Olga Kolokytha is Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Researcher with the Media Governance and Media Industries Research Lab at the Department of Communication of the University of Vienna. She holds a PhD in Cultural Institutions Studies awarded with Distinction, an MA in Arts Management and a BA in Musicology and Music Education. She has worked extensively as cultural projects manager and consultant around Europe, is regularly invited as a guest lecturer to cultural organisations and is a member of ECURES. Her research interests include cultural institutions, cultural politics, creative industries and cultural policy in times of crises, arts and culture as political instruments and cultural Eurosphering.

Liang, Lisa. Subtitling Bridget Jones’s Fantasy World: The Transfer of Sexuality and Gender in a Chick Flick Film.

The aim of this paper is to focus on the translation of a modern British chick flick, namely Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001). Two key features characterise the subtitling process: Sexuality and gender. More specifically, the challenges of subtitling Bridget Jones’s Diary for a Chinese market include the presence of rude words, rude concepts, and a different vision of women both as socio-economic consumers and as sexual beings. This paper sets out to analyse how notions of sexuality and gender are subtitled for a Chinese audience in this English-language film. The case study of a British chick flick, Bridget Jones’s Diary not only encompasses the subtitles of sexually-loaded words, but also swearing and offensive language, euphemisms, and humour. I am going to apply ‘relevance theory’ to the case study to examine how the Chinese subtitles shape female gender ideology via my three situational categories: Swearing and offensive language, sexual language, and euphemism/humour. What the subtitles reveal is that the distinct features of sexuality and gender in Bridget Jones’s Diary are preserved in Chinese while mediated with Chinese characteristics of sexuality and gender.

Lisa Liang received her BA in Translation Referring to Foreign Business from South China Normal University and her MA in Translation and Interpreting from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. She has been offered a full scholarship by Guangzhou Elite Program to undertake her PhD. She also co-organised the Cardiff University postgraduate conference ‘The Translator: Competence, Credentials, Creativity’, which was sponsored by the University Graduate College and the Cardiff University School of Modern Languages and held in May of 2014.

Mowitt, John. Tracks from the Crypt.

Valediction, apostrophe and séance are terms that arise frequently enough in the literature treating the topic of communicating with or through an absence. Valediction, a saying farewell to those one is leaving behind; apostrophe, a saying addressing itself to the inanimate (often the dead); and séance, the reception of a saying addressed to the living by the dead. All are instances of dialogue where and when dialogue might otherwise be thought impossible; all imply or at the very least suggest that dialogue under other circumstances is possible, that is does take place, and does so without recourse to such extravagances or ruses. In this paper, I will attempt to rattle this notion of dialogue by speculating on the phenomenon of the musical tombeau, the sonic tribute to the dead friend or musician (perhaps most famously, Ravel’s ‘Le Tombeau de Couperin’). More particularly, by drawing on the work of Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas and the Hungarian analysts Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok, I want to consider what David Bowie’s Blackstar and specifically Renck’s music video for “Lazarus” is addressing to us about the sounds and images it has left among us. Read as a cryptic tombeau (and one might regard Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker as a further instance) the album prompts certain questions. Is Blackstar ‘talkin’ to me’ and you? If it is not, what is it doing and what might this ‘doing’ teach us about communication?

John Mowitt holds the Leadership Chair in the Critical Humanities at the University of Leeds. He was formerly Professor in the department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. His publications range widely over the fields of culture, politics and theory. In 2008, he collaborated with the composer Jarrod Fowler to transfigure his book, Percussion: Drumming, Beating, Striking (2002), from a printed to a sonic text/performance, ‘Percussion’ as Percussion. His Radio: Essays in Bad Reception appeared in 2011 from the University of California Press, and his current book, Sounds: The Ambient Humanities, also appeared from California in spring of 2016. In addition, he is a senior co-editor of the journal, Cultural Critique.

Önen, Naz. Dialogue in Essay Film as the Means of Interactivity.

The Essay Film – by no means a well-defined filmmaking genre – is one in which dialogue constructs the basis of its communication structure within and beyond the audiovisual material. This research will enlighten the unique language and the means of communication created with dialogue in the Essay Film format. In the Essay Film, the voice functions as a means of expression as opposed to a stack of sounds. It becomes a stylistic reflection where we perceive the tone of the filmmaker. The voice is not a rhetoric that oppresses the viewer; instead, it becomes a bridge to communicate with and throughout the audiovisual material as an artistic act that demands interactivity, like an open letter to be finalized on the viewers’ mind. The Bergsonian term called “La Durée” might be a good concept to illustrate this interactive and diegetic performance where the dialogue frees the viewer from the linearity and narration. The Essay Film does not give answer. Rather, it asks questions to the viewer, directly or indirectly throughout the dialogue as the core of this filmmaking style in order for the filmmaker to effectively communicate with his/her viewer.

Naz Önen graduated from her bachelor program at Bilkent University’s Communication and Design department in 2016. She currently studies under Bilkent University’s Media and Design MFA Program. She has directed and produced several short films and has taken part in national and international film festivals as well as photography exhibitions. She worked on Alternative Photography as the mentor of several Cyanotype Workshops for undergraduate and graduate levels in Bilkent and Gazi University.

Rendell, James. ‘I am Major’ and We are Not Happy About it: The Communicative Qualities of Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell Film Trailers and Viral Marketing Campaign, and Anti-fans’ Pre-Textual Poaching.

This paper contributes to intercultural debates surrounding Hollywood’s appropriation of foreign cinema (Xu 2008), focusing on Paramount’s live-action remake of the 1995 Japanese cult classic anime Ghost in the Shell. But whereas arguments have oscillated around feature length film, this paper’s case study, at the point of writing, is not yet released at theatres (Chin and Gray 2001), thus the focus will be on its trailers. Utilising Homi Bhabha’s third space, discursive transparency, and rules of recognition (1994, 1995), this is will be done in three stages. Firstly, the paper considers Paramount’s trailers beyond mere vehicles of hype (Gray 2010: 8-10), analysing their filmic and communicative qualities that provide characterisation via images, sounds and dialogue (Kernan 2004:13-4, Johnston 2008:11-2). Secondly, in bids to synergise marketing, the paper looks at how Paramount’s viral marketing campaign evokes language from the trailers. An online meme generator provides text and images around the trailer’s slogan ‘I am Major’, announced by the film’s protagonist. Lastly, the paper analyses anti-fans’ disdain towards the remake’s trailer through the subversion of Paramount’s marketing. Using the meme generator’s visual and written communicative functions against the very film it is promoting, the paper argues fans’ ‘pre-textual poaching’ (Hills 2010) evidences anti-orientalist and anti-whitewashing discourses against Hollywood.

James Rendell is a PhD student at Cardiff University, exploring the rise of graphic TV horror in the twenty-first century and the transcultural responses to it. He is the creator and organiser of ‘Spirited Discussions: Exploring 30 Years of Studio Ghibli’, a one-day international conference held at Cardiff University, and a guest editor for the East Asian Journal of Popular Culture’s special edition of the proceedings. He has also written for the New Review of Film and Television Studies.

Rodriguez, Daniel Aguilar; Roncallo-Dow, Sergio; Enrique Uribe-Jongbloed. We Come in Peace: Communication Ideologies in Films of an Extraterrestrial Nature.

Extraterrestrial beings always have the potential to alter ‘the world as we know it’. Whenever they appear in film, there is a debate about the ability that we have, as human beings, to communicate with them. Linguistics and semiotics become key elements in our attempts to bridge the cultural gap. Be it through mathematics, music or technological gadgets, these films mimic the uncertainty that arises from all types of intercultural contact. The fear is always the misinterpretation that can turn a ‘We come in peace’ into a fully-fledged war. Furthermore, movies about extraterrestrials have involved discourses used by authoritarian regimes to legitimize their authority and power and predicated upon a fear to the unknown. The humanization of extraterrestrial beings to establish communication with them becomes an inverse representation of the dehumanization of the other, the enemy, as depicted by certain sectors of society and a few recently elected governments with whom it is difficult to establish mechanisms of communication and dialogue. What we want to explore here is how various films that include this inter-world communication represent the challenges faced by humans, how they serve as mere extensions of our inward fear of difference and our own desire to conquer by force.

Daniel Aguilar Rodríguez is full professor at the school of Communication and Journalism, Universidad Externado de Colombia. He focuses currently on topics related to cultural sociology, particularly on different forms of political participations, among young people, through artistic expressions.

Sergio Roncallo-Dow is associate professor at the Faculty of Communication, Universidad de La Sabana. His research revolves around communication theory, particularly from the perspective of Marshall McLuhan. He is also the head editor of the journal Palabra Clave.

Enrique Uribe-Jongbloed is full professor at the Department of Social Communication and Cinematography, Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano. His research is mainly focused on cultural transduction, adaptation and minority language media. He is currently building a book on the topic of Cultural Transduction. 

Signorelli, Valentina. The Dialogue of Cosmopolis.

This paper focuses on David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis (2012), the story of a young multimillionaire who crosses New York City with his limousine during a violent anti-capitalist protest. The film is an adaptation of the 2003-homonym literary work by Don DeLillo and it is also the very first movie that Cronenberg shot entirely on digital cameras. Cronenberg’s main inspiration for adapting this story to the cinematic screen derived from the ‘amazing dialogues’ of the novel. The screenwriting phase involved the Canadian director literally copying ‘all the dialogues from the book […] without changing or adding anything’, and this choice remained untouched up to the final cut. Combining theoretical tools of Film Adaptation Studies with aspects of film production, this investigation explores the ways dialogue connects the literary page to the cinematic screen in order to address the following questions: What is the role of dialogue in the adaptation process? What is the relationship between film dialogue and shooting on digital cameras? More broadly, in which way might Film Adaptation Studies be enriched by greater attention to film dialogue?

Valentina Signorelli is a professional screenwriter and currently a PhD candidate at the University of Westminster, London. Her research explores the impact of digital technologies in the remediation of Dante’s infernal imagery through the cinematic screen, with equal focus on both aspects of film theory and screenwriting practice.

Sorfa, David. Hearing Oneself Speak: Speech and Thought in First-Person Camera Cinema.

‘Mysteriously starring Robert Montgomery and… YOU!’ Cinema struggles with the representation of inner-speech and thought more generally in a way that is less of a problem for literature. Film also destabilises the notion of the narrator, be they omniscient, unreliable or first-person. In this talk I wish to address the peculiar and highly unsuccessful cinematic innovation which we can call the ‘first-person camera’ film. These are films in which the camera represents not just the point-of-view of a character, but is meant to be understood as that character. Very few such films have been made and I will concentrate on the way in which speech, dialogue and thought are represented in The Lady in the Lake (1947) and Hardcore Henry (2015). I will engage with the so-called ‘homunculus’ theory of consciousness and also invoke Jacques Derrida’s discussion of the problem of ‘hearing oneself speak’ in phenomenology and the issue of subjectivity in philosophy more generally. I will read these films through the lens of Derrida’s rather obscure claim in Speech and Phenomena that ‘the history of metaphysics therefore can be expressed as the unfolding of the structure or schema of an absolute will-to-hear-oneself-speak’. How does cinema present inner subjectivity and thought through dialogue with others and with oneself? What do these specific films tell us about the way in which fictional worlds deal with dialogue and thought? Do these experiments in cinematic form have something to offer for an understanding both of film and of human consciousness?

Dr David Sorfa is a Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh and is managing editor of the journal Film-Philosophy. He has written on Michael Haneke, Jan Švankmajer and Czech cinema as well as a broad range of other film subjects. He has particular interests in film-philosophy, phenomenology, the work of Jacques Derrida and film adaptation. He thinks that Derrida is the new Deleuze.

Sylvester, Sara. Dress Code: Construction of Female Identities through the Language of Costume.

In the last decade, the scholarly study of costume and cinema has begun to be recognised as a legitimate and rich subject area opening up wider debates about the relationship between film and fashion. Key to this is to what extent can film costume be said to articulate a language of its own. A character’s cinematic presentation through clothing offers insight about the wearer, implying that the exterior façade offers enlightenment to the character’s unique nature. From this stance, costume is perceived as playing a pivotal role in constituting a character’s make-up in film, operating as an intermediary between character and narrative establishing a connection between the character’s identity and the story of the film, thus focusing on the interdependence between costume and interpretations of the character.

Theoretical notions of gender, performance, costumes and spectacle are explored through the representation of two specific female characters’ dress code: Mia Wallace in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) and Margot Tenenbaum in Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). It is through these two iconic protagonists it could be argued that costume can clearly be perceived as a defining visual marker of the character on-screen, thus establishing costume as an integral component of cinema.

Sara Sylvester has been a Media and Film educator for twenty years. A former Head of Department, she now works freelance as an e-learner designer, consultant, examiner, researcher and artist. She passed her viva in March 2017. The focus of her research has explored the growing interest in fictive art in relation to digital technology and social media as well as documenting the current resurgence in feminist art. The creative element of her PhD puts into practice the constructive process of developing a fictive persona, Seren Sanclêr, as a transmediated self, whilst also demonstrating the potential of digital media as more than simply a self-branding tool but a new art form to explore.

Turan, Müge. From Dubbing Hollywood to Dubbing Self.

Turkish scriptwriter Bülent Oran once said that ‘Turkish spectators watch films with their ears’. Beginning in the 1940s, dubbing became one of the most recognizable features of the Turkish film industry, characterizing both national and imported production for five decades. Dubbing has a double meaning: One is the audio translation mode of foreign films and the other is the post-production technique, known also as post-synchronization. The transition of dubbing from a procedure to an unquestioned institution, from a viewing habit to a collective taste requires a close ‘listening’. The evolution from dubbing Hollywood to self-dubbing in Turkish cinema proves how the historical evolution of sound in film is bound to its roots and how sound in film defines its audience. In my paper, I attempt to open up a theoretical debate around dubbing to understand the special relationships that inhere between the voice and the cinematic image and the effects of dubbing as Yeşilçam’s mechanism of production and aesthetic device on the spectator’s perceptual experience.

Yeşilçam, for which Hollywood functioned as a kind of fantasy screen, interweaves the traditional and the modern. Oscillating between aural storytelling traditions as heritage and the realistic urge of the medium of cinema, Yeşilçam invents its own language, based more on narrative realism, rather than a visual one. Films cue action with speech. The discrepancy of sound and image resulted from self-dubbing created non-realistic melodramas that couldn’t convey the psychological and social content of original performances; discontinuities and seeming failures in sound are associated with the lack of genuine, well-constructed characters. While some actors dubbed themselves, most popular actors have never been heard in their own voices. However, voice was still conceived as the medium of truth by the audience, the ear winning over the eye. That’s why I believe, in order to grasp the enveloping power of sound, the ventriloquist aspect of dubbing and the authenticity of this filmmaking practice in Yeşilçam, it is necessary to trace traditional performing arts such as theatre-in-the-round and shadow play.

Müge Turan is a first-year PhD student in Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto. As a writer, film critic and film curator, her love affair with cinema has evolved throughout the intertwined pursuit of academic study, criticism and curation. Her MA thesis, which was published as From Forbidden Planet to Solaris: Tracing Speculative Film (2012), sought to define what she called ‘speculative film’ by reading science fiction cinema through the lens of psychoanalysis. In 2014, she co-curated the research exhibition ‘One Hundred Years of Love: The Affair Between Film and Audience in Turkey’. Her interest in cinematic sound with a specific focus on national cinema led her to embark on a doctoral thesis on the five-decade-long history of dubbing or post-synchronization in Turkish popular cinema.

Wright, Rebecca. Language, Gender and Power: A Discursive Analysis of the Film Mad Max: Fury Road.

The action genre of Hollywood film is not one that is readily noted as a source for provocative dialogue. The post-apocalyptic sub-genre, however, has served well as a platform for social commentary. The summer 2015 blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road has taken the language of a dystopian future and commented on the limitations of our economic and cultural present. The language in the film is rudimentary, yet insightful, formed from an abyss, when all conventional frames of reference are lost or limited in the apocalypse. Various scenes of the film in which specific language is only used by a specific gender will be analysed. The scenes demonstrate ways in which the language is used to construct the power dynamics of the characters and their position within the film narrative. The function of dialogue in this film lies in the constructions of gender and power determined by the use of language. This paper aims to analyse the dialogue in the film for constructions of gender and power through language. This is achieved by evaluating the discursive practices within the film narrative and correlating the performative language or speech acts to the power dynamics that intersect contemporary issues of environmentalism, neoliberalism and women’s rights.

Rebecca Wright is a PhD student in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. She is interested in the limitations of language within the neoliberal framework as represented in the paratextual discourse that surrounds the female action hero. She is currently researching the impact these limitations have when discussing the ‘Alpha Female’ both on and off the film screen.