Charles Dekeukeleire at CINEMATEK

Poster expo

This month, CINEMATEK (the Belgian Royal Film Archive) pays tribute to Charles Dekeukeleire (1905-1971), one of Belgium’s most important filmmakers. Especially his avant-gardist films from the late 1920s, such as Impatience (1928) and Histoire de détective (1929), are (justly!) considered as masterpieces of experimental cinema. See, for example, Kristin Thompson’s excellent analysis of these films. But while Thompson is less enthusiastic about Dekeukeleire’s later work, I find films such as Witte vlam (1930), Visions de Lourdes (1932), Thèmes d’inspiration (1938) and the underrated Het kwade oog (1937 – on which I have been working, see here) equally interesting.

Next to a film programme focusing on Dekeukeleire’s work and its film historical links, CINEMATEK hosts an attractive exhibition curated by Mathilde Lejeune (Université Lille 3), who also gave a lecture on her ongoing research on Dekeukeleire’s life and work. For the exhibition, she made an insightful selection out of CINEMATEK’s rich archival holdings on Dekeukeleire: film stills, scripts, publicity material, reviews, certificates, letters, and, above all, Dekeukeleire’s intriguing little notebooks. Lejeune introduces the exhibition in this video.

Definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in the history of Belgian cinema, experimental and documentary cinema! The exhibition is on display until 28 April.


4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days

I wrote a piece on 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (2007) for the Flemish public television channel Canvas. You can read it here (in Dutch).

4 months

Zaterdagavond vertoont Canvas 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (2007, Cristian Mungiu), een hoogtepunt uit de Roemeense new wave. Op de website van Canvas leg ik uit waarom deze film een absolute must see is. De film valt ook te bekijken op VRT.NU.

Remaking national, disability and gender identities

The European Journal of Cultural Studies published an article by Eduard Cuelenaere, Stijn Joye and myself. By drawing on the case of the Belgian film Hasta La Vista (2011) and its Dutch remake Adios Amigos (2016), we look at how the remake process transforms representations of national, disability and gender identities. You can read the article here.


Both films are popular road trip movies dealing with the adventure of three friends with disabilities who overcome boundaries in multiple ways. Not only by figuratively (and almost literally) escaping their parents and their disabilities but also through traveling, exploring sexuality, and eventually by dying. Although the films deal with almost exactly the same themes, their interpretation and contextualization differ considerably. As a consequence of the localizing processes embedded in film remakes, subtexts which were ingrained in the source text were ignored or even withheld in the newer version. As the involved filmmakers built on particular stereotypical visions and myths about these specific cultures and national identities, often with the purpose of recreating a socio-cultural context, such narrowed perceptions were occasionally subverted but also reconsolidated. Furthermore, through the remake process, some ableist and patronizing representations of, respectively, disability and gender identities were subverted, while others were kept or even reinforced. Our results show that such transformations point toward specific socio-culturally defined disability and gender identities but also toward a shared disability and gender culture.

Conference on research methods in film studies

On 18 and 19 October, the ECREA Film Studies section will organise its biannual conference in Ghent! The conference topic is Research Methods in Film Studies: Challenges and Opportunities. I’m organizing this conference together with my colleagues Sergio Villanueva Baselga and Mariana Liz. You can find the full call for papers below.

CFP: Research Methods in Film Studies: Challenges and Opportunities
18-19 October 2019, Ghent, Belgium

Keynote speakers:
Catherine Grant (Birkbeck, University of London)
Barbara Flueckiger (Zurich University)

The academic study of film has involved looking at generic conventions, authorial features, and the use and function of different aspects of film language, including mise-en-scène, narrative, editing and sound. Film Studies has also examined the relationship between film and society, by contemplating issues such as race and gender, the on- and off-screen construction of stardom, the association between cinema, ideology and propaganda, and the way in which films mirror and shape national and transnational identities. The industrial features of film, film policy and legislation, as well as matters of film reception, distribution and exhibition, venues and audiences (cf. the New Cinema History Movement) have also been extensively considered by scholars, within and beyond the discipline.

Research questions and methodologies from the humanities and social sciences have often been used in conjunction in the analysis of this multitude of topics. The history of Film Studies is thus one of transdisciplinarity. As the discipline moves forward, and its future is called into question – both in relation to debates about the post-cinematic era (Denson and Leyda 2016) and the changing academic context (Fairfax 2017) – methodological considerations have been given greater attention in academic discussions. This is at least partly connected to the rise of the Digital Humanities, which has afforded the study of film with a variety of new digital sources, tools and methods, as well as a growing interest in quantitative data, which allows for new forms of analysis of film texts, industries, audiences and cultures. At the same time, more traditional methods, such as the multiple approaches to textual analysis, the use of interviews and surveys, as well as archival research, retain their important place within Film Studies. The wide variety of methodologies adopted by researchers of film across the globe have meant the discipline is now faced with a series of challenges and opportunities.

Aiming to explore a wide range of approaches, this conference invites contributions that engage with current methodological challenges and opportunities in Film Studies. We welcome theoretical contributions on methodological issues in Film Studies, papers or workshop sessions on specific methods, as well as research papers paying considerable attention to the methodological framework at stake.

Abstracts are invited on topics related to research methods in Film Studies, including but not limited to:

  • Statistical methods for textual analysis 
  • Film Studies and big data 
  • Text mining in Film Studies 
  • CAQDAS and Film Studies 
  • Cinema and social network analysis 
  • Audience research  
  • Methods in New Cinema History 
  • Production analysis and film policy research 
  • Film and video as methodological tools 
  • Narrative analysis 
  • Archival research 
  • Neurocinematics and neuroscience of film 
  • Methodological issues in specific schools of film analysis (e.g. feminism, phenomenology, neoformalism, auteurism, post-structuralism, critical theory, cultural studies, political economy …) 

The conference will also host a special panel organized by the ECREA Television Studies section. The section invites paper proposals devoted to new methodologies in the research of television fiction and non-fiction content. The section welcomes submissions that explore comparisons, international approaches and examples of concrete and innovative case studies, in order to shed light on the future of TV Studies in the new digital context.

Please submit your abstract (max 300 words) along with key references, institutional affiliation and a short bio (max 150 words) or a panel proposal, including a panel presentation (max 300 words) along with minimum 3, maximum 4 individual abstracts.

Submission deadline: 12 May 2019.

Proposal acceptance notification: 21 June  2019.

Please send your abstract/panel proposals to the conference email address:

ECREA membership is not required to participate in the conference. The conference fee will not exceed 70 EUR and will include coffee breaks, lunches and receptions.

The conference takes place in Ghent and is hosted by Ghent University and the University of Antwerp. The conference is organised by the ECREA Film Studies Section in co-operation with DICIS (Digital Cinema Studies network), the Research Center for Visual Poetics at the University of Antwerp, the Centre for Cinema and Media Studies at Ghent University, the Visual and Digital Cultures Research Center at the University of Antwerp, and the Popular Communication division of NeFCA.

Conference organisers: Gertjan Willems (University of Antwerp/Ghent University), Sergio Villanueva Baselga (Universitat de Barcelona), Mariana Liz (University of Lisbon)

The Daens myth in literature and cinema

My article ‘From political biography to political event: the Daens myth in literature and cinema’ has just been published in the journal Biography. This article examines how Louis Paul Boon’s historical novel Pieter Daens (1971) and Stijn Coninx’s biopic Daens (1992) have contributed to the ‘Daens myth’, in which the Belgian priest and politician Adolf Daens (1939-1907) is idealized as a self-assured hero fighting social injustice. The article focuses on how Daens is related to Flemish nation-building and how the political biopic became a political event itself. You can read it here.



Loft remakes

The latest issue of the Tijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap published an article by Eduard Cuelenaere, Stijn Joye and myself on the Belgian film Loft (2008) and its Dutch (2010) and American (2014) remake. You can read the article here (in Dutch).


Het Tijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap publiceerde zonet een artikel van Eduard Cuelenaere, Stijn Joye en mezelf, over de Belgische film Loft (2008) en zijn Nederlandse (2010) en Amerikaanse (2014) remake. Je kan het artikel hier lezen. Het artikel focust op de (re)producties van culturele identiteiten. Via een vergelijkende analyse van representaties van vrouwelijke personages, seksualiteit en etniciteit onderzoeken we hoe verschillende versies van eenzelfde filmverhaal gerelateerd zijn aan hun specifieke socio-culturele contexten, en aan het concept van ‘karaoke-Amerikanisme’.

Conference announcement: ‘Media, Diplomacy and Soft Power’

I’m excited to announce the conference Media, Diplomacy and Soft Power, which will explore how media (particularly film and television) are used as soft power tools in relations between emerging markets and western countries. The conference will take place on 20 and 21 May 2019 at the University of Bologna. I am co-organizing this conference with my colleagues Marco Cucco (University of Bologna), who is the main organizer, and Zhan Zhang (Università della Svizzera italiana). This is the call for papers:

Media, Diplomacy and Soft Power:

Exploring the Relations Between Emerging Markets and Western Countries

Bologna, Dipartimento delle Arti, May 20th-21st, 2019

Confirmed keynote speakerStanley Rosen (University of Southern California)

A second keynote speaker will be soon announced

Organized by Marco Cucco (Università di Bologna), Gertjan Willems (University of Antwerp) and Zhan Zhang (Università della Svizzera italiana)

Media products, in particular audiovisual works, have always been used both as soft power tools for shaping or branding the image and reputation of their producing countries, and as a diplomatic platform for facilitating international relations and trade. Soft power strategies involve public and private stakeholders working in different areas within a wide, complex and well-orchestrated plan. However, due to the fundamental role of culture, media always play a crucial role in any plan of soft power and strategic marketing.

The conference aims at understanding how media products serve for diplomatic and soft power purposes, with a focus on emerging markets. While traditional flows of communication moved from the Western world to other regions (as in the case of Hollywood films), nowadays the most sophisticated and innovative soft power plans are going in the opposite direction: from developing countries to Western Europe and the United States. Not only do countries like China, India, South Korea and Mexico have more and more skillful and powerful media companies and professionals, they are also intensively working and negotiating to spread their media products and brands abroad and to create international co-productions and new media ventures. Within these collaborations and expansion strategies, Western Europe and the United States also became their targeted markets.

Investigating these dynamics is very challenging for scholars. Soft power strategies are often based on “unwritten” political decisions; they usually aim at reaching intangible goals, and their analysis requires expertise from several research areas (political sciences, economics, media studies, etc.). In light of these challenges, the conference aims at a better understanding of the role played by media products in international diplomacy and as soft power tools of developing countries favoring a dialogue between scholars from different research fields and geographic areas. In line with its founding purposes, the Media Mutations conference series aims to serve as a platform for discussing methodologies, sharing expertise and promoting a multi-disciplinary approach.

The 11th edition of Media Mutations encourages submissions that cover the following subjects and topics:

  • Mapping of public and private stakeholders involved in soft power strategies of emerging markets, with a focus on creative industries;
  • The role of media within soft power strategies of emerging markets;
  • Case studies of single countries (economic and cultural goals; policies; international agreements; development and performance of media products, etc.);
  • Case studies of particular media companies/organizations for their success/failure (corporate strategy, output, markets, economic results, etc.);
  • Case studies of particular media products for their success/failure (content design; financing; international distribution/circulation; reception in the national market and in foreign markets);
  • Soft power and national branding;
  • The implementation of soft power into media practices;
  • The places of networking for diplomatic and soft power purposes (fairs, markets at festivals, etc.);
  • Relations between developing countries and international organizations (e.g. European Union, World Trade Organization, etc.) in the field of media;
  • Methodological approaches for investigating soft power strategies and their tangible/intangible results.

The official language of the conference is English. Abstracts (300-500 words for 20-minute talks) should be sent to by January 20th, 2019. Please attach a brief biography (maximum 150 words) and an optional selected bibliography (up to five references). Notification of acceptance will be sent by February 18 th. A registration fee will be requested after notification of paper acceptance (€60 for speakers and professional attendants; free conference admission for students).

This Conference is financially supported by Centro Dipartimentale La Soffitta and Dipartimento delle Arti, Università di Bologna, and sponsored by the ECREA Film Studies Section.