EVENT Oct 02
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Narrative forms and co-production in Arab cinemas: Norms, constraints, and margins of freedom

Saint-Joseph University of Beirut
Organization: Saint-Joseph University of Beirut and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Categories: Postcolonial, Popular Culture, Aesthetics, Cultural Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Mediterranean, Middle East
Event Date: 2019-10-02 to 2019-10-04 Abstract Due: 2019-04-15

Film industry in the Arab world remains underdeveloped, despite the success of some contemporary Arab films and the emergence of new film festivals in the Arab world. With the exception of few examples such as Egypt and, to a certain extent, Morocco, who were able to develop local production systems, Arab countries still depend on international film support funds, mainly European. This puts Arab producers, scriptwriters and filmmakers in a subaltern position in relation to European producers and funders, whose expectations in terms of content and narrative forms end up strongly impacting the film creation process.

 One of the aims of this conference is to address the impact of European film funds on the co-funded films. How does this impact take place? How and to what extent do Arab filmmakers, scriptwriters and producers actually comply with pre-defined norms and constraints? Moreover, to what extent can locally produced films also be influenced by this power relation, through a mechanism of imitation for example, or as a way to obtain international recognition?

On the other hand, a margin of freedom can emerge within this system. In fact, the coproduction system can offer to the Arab creators a space of expression free from state censorship which is usually exerted more strictly on locally produced films. Also, some filmmakers manage to find a certain compromise and to create film forms that go against norms usually imposed by hegemonic systems. The conference will also address the mechanism through which these margins of freedom can be created.

Finally, some filmmakers choose to break with the system, and opt for alternative modes of production (crowdfunding, auto-financing, film cooperatives, etc.), or for other forms of cinematic practices like experimental cinema or video installations. The conference also aims at shedding light on these alternative practices of cinema in the Arab world.

Participants can choose one or more topics among the ones suggested below. They can also address any other topic that can be of interest to the conference. Additionally, participants can focus on cinemas from other parts of the world where producers and filmmakers face the same kind of pressures.

- Economy of Arab cinemas (funding, markets, distribution...).

- Popular reception of co-produced films.

- Arab cinemas and international festivals.

- Politics of local film festivals.

- Film genres in co-produced cinemas.

- State censorship and foreign expectations.

- Auteur films and the coproduction system.

- Narrative norms and margins of creation.

- Original narrative forms.

- Alternative modes of production.


Abstracts of 500 words approximately should be sent to arabcinemaconferencebeirut2019@gmail.com by no later than April 15, 2019. The conference will be held on October 2, 3 and 4, 2019 at Saint-Joseph University of Beirut.

Papers can be presented in French, English or Arabic.

This conference is organized by the Institute for Theater, Audiovisual and Cinematographic Studies and the Department of Literature, Faculty of Humanities, Saint-Joseph University of Beirut, in collaboration with Institut ACTE (EA 7539) - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.


Organizing committee

Elie Yazbek

Karl Akiki

Wissam Mouawad

José Moure


Scientific Committee

Toufic El Khoury (Saint-Joseph University of Beirut)

Sarah Leperchey (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

Terri Ginsberg (American University in Cairo)

Shohini Chaudhuri (University of Essex)

Hamid Aidouni (University of Tetouan)

Joshua David Gonçalves (American University of Beirut)

Meryem Belkaïd (Bowdoin college)


Wissam Mouawad