13 July 2017

Call for papers: Symposium – Curating the Global Film Archive

Venue: Moving Image Archive, Kelvin Hall, Glasgow
Date: 28 October 2017

In 2017 Africa in Motion Film Festival collaborates with the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling on a year-long AHRC-funded project entitled Africa’s Lost Classics. This project aims to bring to UK screens some of the greatest African film classics, works that have been neglected or forgotten. Through this project, contact with archivists around the world have led to discoveries of films that were deemed lost, and collaborations with restorers have brought old and decaying film reels back to life. As such, we became newly aware that curators can re(dis)cover old films and transform films’ material deterioration into the cinematic experience the film was made for. By organising, as part of this project, a one-day symposium on curating the global archive, we aim to place African cinema at the centre of the global film archive, while providing a context of worldwide archival curation and research. During the Africa in Motion annual film festival and Black History Month in the UK in October 2017, we are also curating a large exhibition entitled African Film: Looking Back Through the Lens at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow. Curated in conjunction with the Africa in Motion film festival and the symposium, this exhibition is motivated by the desire to revive lost histories, spaces and times, and it includes 15 key classic films accompanied by posters, contextual information and film clips. We invite scholars to submit abstracts on topics related to practical and theoretical uses of worldwide film archives, and the relationship between archives and curation. We are interested in the archives of the world: from the Balkans to the Far East, Beirut to Seattle, Cape to Cairo. Without wanting to limit the scope of the symposium or proposed papers, some of the central questions we wish to explore are:


  • What is the role of the curator in bringing the archive to life?
  • How do archives and film festivals perform as sites of memory and commemoration?
  • Can festivals act as archives?
  • How do we best access archives if the materiality of film is under threat?
  • What has the digital revolution contributed to the preservation of cinema?
  • What is the role of the archivist in curating retrospectives?
  • How do history and the present enact the discourse between contemporary films and archival footage?
  • How do films, archives and the cinema as a public space interact with the present and the future, and what is the archive’s role in preservation and access?

Please send 250-word abstracts and 100-word biographies (including relevant publications) to the conference organisers Dr. Lizelle Bisschoff at and Dr. Stefanie Van de Peer by 31 August 2017. Delegates will be notified of their acceptance by 15 September. We regret we have no funding available for travel or accommodation but delegates will have the opportunity to attend film screenings of restored African Classics at the Africa in Motion film festival (27/10 – 5/11) in Glasgow and/or Edinburgh, and visit the accompanying exhibition.

About the venue:
The Moving Image Archive is Scotland's national collection of moving image located at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow. More than 2,000 digitised films are online in the Moving Image Archive catalogue, and a further archive of over 60,000 films about Scotland is being preserved at Kelvin Hall. These archives are accessible by booking an appointment with the manager of the Archive, please see online for more details.

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