Comizi d’Amore conference

Comizi d'amore

Between 1948 (the first elections of the new Republic, that put the Democrazia Cristianain charge of the country) and 1978 (when the first erotic cinemas emerged in Italy), Italian cinema was characterized by increasingly sexualized representations, which caused much public debate. Starting from this observation, the Comizi d’amore project has in the last few years studied the relations between sexuality and cinema in Italy in the post-war period. Yesterday, I was happy to participate in the closing event of the research project at the impressive buildings of the University of Milan.


Dom Holdaway introducing Daniël Biltereyst

Just like at the previous conference I attended (the small cinemas conference), the presence of Belgian film historical perspectives in the conference was remarkable. My former PhD supervisor Daniël Biltereyst (Ghent University) delivered a great keynote talk about censorship of Italian neorealist films abroad, particularly in Belgium. Guido Convents (SIGNIS) talked about the fascinating figure of ‘film father’ Felix Morlion (who has been very active first in Belgian film culture and after WW II in Italian film culture), and his attitude towards sexuality. My own presentation focused Belgian-Italian sexploitation films in the 1970s, with a case study focusing on The Devil’s Nightmare/Au service du diable/La terrificante notte del demonio (1972, Jean Brismée).


Presentation of the Cinecensure website of the Cineteca Nazionale

A big thank you and congratulations to Dalila Missero, Francesco Di Chiara, Valentina Re, Tomaso Subini and Federico Vitella for organizing such a stimulating conference!

Francophone Belgian cinema

Earlier this year, the book Francophone Belgian cinema came out, written by Jamie Steele. After providing a revealing general account of contemporary film production, distribution and exhibition in the French Community of Belgium, the book offers chapters on films by Jean-Pierre and LucDardenne, Joachim Lafosse, Olivier Masset-Depasse, Bouli Lanners and Lucas Belvaux. I have written a review of this book for the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, you can read it here. A shorter, Dutch-language version of the review was published by Filmmagie, you can read it here.

Francophone belgian cinema

Research methods conference


Over the last two days, I organised the ‘Research methods in film studies‘ conference in Ghent, together with my lovely colleagues from the ECREA Film Studies Section management team Mariana Liz (University of Lisbon) and Sergio Villanueva Baselga (University of Barcelona). The conference welcomed 99 delegates from all over Europe and beyond, resulting in 63 presentations and three keynote talks: Barbara Flueckiger (Zurich University) opened the conference with an impressive overview of how she has applied digital tools for the analysis of historical film colors, Catherine Grant (Birkbeck, University of London) made a convinving plea for ‘playing’ with editing tools as a method to acquire aesthetic insights into films, and Richard Dyer (King’s College London) closed the conference with an outstanding talk on textual analysis (i.e. ‘making sense of films) and serial killing. It were two very intense, but also very rewarding days. A big thank you to everyone who made this conference possible!




Daens: the making of

The latest issue of the journal WT includes an article I wrote about the novel Pieter Daens (1971) and the film Daens (1992), and how they have contributed to the ‘Daens myth’. You can read it here: here (in Dutch).

In het laatste nummer van WT: Tijdschrift over de geschiedenis van de Vlaamse beweging verscheen mijn artikel Daens: de making-of. Over de film Daens (1992) en de Daensmythe. Je kan het artikel hier downloaden. Wat begon als een vertaling van een Engelstalig Daensartikel groeide uit tot een volledig herwerking van dat artikel.

Daens artikel

Het huidige, Nederlandstalige artikel onderzoekt niet enkel meer hoe Louis Paul Boons historische roman Pieter Daens (1971) en, in het bijzonder, Stijn Coninx’ biopic Daens zich verhouden tot hun historisch onderwerp, de Aalsterse priester en politicus Adolf Daens (1839-1907). Het artikel focust nu voornamelijk op hoe deze Daensvertellingen bijdragen tot de Daensmythe, die twee dimensies kent. Enerzijds een persoonlijke dimensie met de heroïsering van Daens, anderzijds een politiek-historische dimensie waarbij Daens en het daensisme gelijkgesteld worden met de bredere daensistische beweging en het ontstaan van de christendemocratie in Vlaanderen. De Daensmythe en de filmische popularisering ervan zorgden er mee voor dat Daens kon uitgroeien tot een historisch symbool dat zich flexibel laat inzetten in hedendaagse politiek-ideologische discoursen.

Small cinemas conference

Small cinemas poster

The last three days, I’ve been attending the Small cinemas, small spaces conference at the University of Lisbon. The organizing team (Filipa Rosário, Inês Ponte, Mariana Liz and Pedro Figueiredo Neto) did a great job in facilitating discussions on various matters of space in the cinemas of small nations, with presentations considering representations, industries and audiences.

small cinemas organizers

Organizers and keynote speakers

Quite remarkable for me was the presence of Belgian cinema in the conference: Philippe Meers’ (University of Antwerp) keynote discussed the national cinema concept from a Belgian perspective, thereby focusing on young Flemish film audiences, Michael Gott (University of Cincinnati) talked about the family as a metaphor in francophone Belgian cinema, and my own presentation focused on national identity and Belgian cinema in general. A sign of ‘Belgian cinema’ becoming a kind of research field?

small eigen panel

Panel on the nation in small cinemas

A highlight of the conference was the screening of Cães sem coleira (Dogs without a leash, 1997) at the Cinemateca Portuguesa, followed by a Q&A with director Rosa Coutinho Cabral and the documentary’s protagonist António Feliciano. The extremely self-reflexive film tells the life story of Feliciano, who has been a film exhibitor in Southern Portugal since the 1960s up until the present day. While writing a history of Portuguese film and cinema culture, this little gem also examines questions of truth and memory, and how film relates to these concepts.


António Feliciano’s ambulant cinema at the Cinemateca

Pictures by Mariana Liz

Special issue: Current trends in remaking European screen cultures

I’m happy to announce that Communications – The European Journal of Communication Research just published a special issue titled ‘Current trends in remaking European screen cultures’! Eduard Cuelenaere, Stijn Joye and I were the guest editors for this issue, which is one of the outcomes of the symposium ‘Remaking European Cinema‘ we organized last year. As the title of the special issue suggests, the articles we collected here focus on the most recent developments in the European film en television remake industry.

special issue

This is the table of contents of the special issue:


Current trends in remaking European screen cultures Cuelenaere, Eduard / Joye, Stijn / Willems, Gertjan


Local flavors and regional markers: The Low Countries and their commercially driven and proximity-focused film remake practice Cuelenaere, Eduard / Joye, Stijn / Willems, Gertjan

Manufacturing proximity through film remakes: Remake rights representatives and the case of local-language comedy remakes Labayen, Miguel Fernández / Morán, Ana Martín

Babylon Berlin: Pastiching Weimar cinema Hall, Sara F.

Remaking Winnetou, reconfiguring German fantasies of Indianer and the Wild West in the Post-Reunification Era Loock, Kathleen

Instead of the real thing: Six ways to talk about what Hollywood does to European films Leitch, Thomas


Meir, C. (2019). Mass producing European cinema: Studiocanal and its works. New York, London: Bloomsbury Academic. 272 pp. Cuelenaere, Eduard

Evens, T., & Donders, K. (2018). Platform power and policy in transforming television markets. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. 304 pp. Scarlata, Alexa

The state of the nation in Belgian cinema

I’m happy to announce that the University Research Fund (BOF) of the University of Antwerp has granted me funding for the research project ‘The state of the nation in Belgian cinema’! The 4-year project focuses on contemporary cinema and (trans)national identities in Belgium (more information here). There will be appointed a PhD candidate to work on this project, the vacancy has now been published in English and in Dutch. Interested candidates can apply until 11 August.

Bérénice Bejo in ‘Le passé’

I wrote a piece on Le passé (2013, Asghar Farhadi) and its main actress Bérénice Bejo for the Flemish public television channel Canvas. You can read it here (in Dutch).

Le passé poster

Zaterdagavond vertoont Canvas Le passé (2013), een film van de Iraanse regisseur Asghar Farhadi. De film vertelt een intens, diepmenselijk verhaal  over complexe gezinsrelaties. Zo’n film staat of valt met de acteerprestaties. En laat die in Le passé van de allerhoogste kwaliteit zijn. Vooral Bérénice Bejo maakt indruk met haar genuanceerde vertolking van een vrouw verstrikt in een web van vaak contrasterende gevoelens, tegenover haar dochters, haar oude en haar nieuwe geliefde. Daarmee demonstreert ze haar dramatische veelzijdigheid, na eerder vooral uitbundige rollen te hebben gespeeld (zoals haar doorbraakrol in The Artist) in een carrière die getuigt van een grote liefde voor de cinema.

Op de website van Canvas ga ik hier dieper op in. De film valt ook te bekijken op VRT.NU (tot 15 juli).

Media Mutations conference

Today was the second and last day of the 11th Media Mutations conference at the University of Bologna in Italy. This year’s focus was on soft power, diplomacy and media, with special attention for film. The programme included great keynote talks by Stanley Rosen (University of Southern California) on China’s film industry and Rachel Dwyer (SOAS University of London) on Indian cinema, and five highly interesting panels with case-studies on topics ranging from contemporary Turkey’s television series (Dimitra Laurence Larochelle; Ece Vitrinel) over inter-Korean relations (Antonio Fiori and Marco Milani) to pioneering historical research on the concept of ‘screen diplomacy’ (Daniël Biltereyst, Ilaria Poggiolini, Dom Holdaway and Tomaso Subini). After having focused almost exclusively on teaching for several months, these two intensive days of research were very inspiring!

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The conference was organized by Marco Cucco (University of Bologna) and co-organized by Zhan Zhang (Università della Svizzera italiana) and myself.