2022 - Middlesex

Film-Philosophy Conference 2022

13 – 15 July 2022

Hosted online by Middlesex University through Zoom Webinars

The Film-Philosophy Conference is an annual academic conference associated with the Film-Philosophy Journal. The conference has been running since 2008, and before going online due to Covid-19 has taken place at a different university every year. This year, the conference will be held using Zoom seminars, and registrants will have access to film works to be discussed prior to the start of the conference. See our schedule below.

Film-Philosophy is dedicated to the engagement between film studies and philosophy, exploring the ways in which films develop and contribute to philosophical discussion. The journal also provides a forum for the thoughtful re-evaluation of key aspects of both film studies and philosophy as academic disciplines. Read our open access journal and submit your academic work here: https://www.euppublishing.com/loi/film

We appreciate your continued support of the journal. Conference fees fund the maintenance of Film-Philosophy and ensure that we remain open access. To guarantee that this event is also truly open access, there is an unwaged/student option if you cannot contribute at this time.

Schedule (British Summer Time – BST/UTC+1 [convert]):

Three short days of film-philosophical discussion.

Wednesday 13th July:

15:00-16:00 BST, Publisher's Table with Gillian Leslie of Edinburgh University Press

  • Focus on: Publishing for PGR and ECR film-philosophers, followed by Q&A

16:00-17:30 BST, “Empathy Across the Color Line?”

  • Roundtable with Skinner Myers, Merawi Gerima, Samantha N Sheppard and Alessandra Raengo. The Sleeping Negro (Skinner Myers, USA, 2021) is available to view for registered attendees.
  • Social hour afterwards


Thursday 14th July:

15:00-16:00 BST, Chinese Cinemas and Film-Philosophy

  • Discussion with Mila Zuo, author of Vulgar Beauty: Acting Chinese in the Global Sensorium (Duke University Press, 2022), Victor Fan, author of Cinema Illuminating Reality: Media Philosophy Through Buddhism (University of Minnesota Press, 2022), and David Fleming, co-author of Chinese Urban Shi-nema: Cinematicity, Society and Millennial China (Palgrave, 2020).

16:00-17:30 BST, “Ambiguity and Habit in the Cinematic Encounter”

  • Keynote from Kelli Fuery based on her new book, Ambiguous Cinema: From Simone de Beauvoir to Feminist Film-Phenomenology(Edinburgh University Press, 2022).
  • The Film-Philosophy Annual Article Award 2022 announcement
  • Social hour afterwards


Friday 15th July:

15:00-16:00 BST, Book Launch – Cinema of Crisis: Film and Contemporary Europe

  • Discussion with editors and contributors to mark the paperback publication of Cinema of Crisis: Film and Contemporary Europe, ed. Thomas Austin and Angelos Koutsourakis (Edinburgh University Press, 2022).

16:00-17:30 BST, “Pensive Images and Soundscapes of Forgetting: A Conversation Between Malin Wahlberg and Susana de Sousa Dias on the Phenomenology of Cinema and Gestures of Resistance in Documentary Art”

  • Plenary discussion with Malin Wahlberg and Susana de Sousa Dias. Fordlandia Malaise (Susana de Sousa Dias, Portugal, 2019) is available to view for registered attendees.
  • Film-Philosophy Conference Wrap
  • Social hour afterwards


Conference times are in BST/UTC+1, but you can convert to your time zone here.


Empathy Across the Color Line? (Skinner Myers, Merawi Gerima, Alessandra Raengo, Samantha N Sheppard)

Empathy Across the Color Line? will revolve around the work of filmmaker Skinner Myers, whose films consider the history and legacy of what W.E.B. Du Bois called ‘the color line’ in the USA and further afield. Investigating the past and the present of antiblackness in North America and elsewhere, Myers’s films adopt an intentionally oppositional form, thereby continuing the stylistic as well as thematic legacy of movements like the celebrated LA Rebellion, a legacy that can also be seen in the work of fellow panellist Merawi Gerima. The panel, which also consists of leading scholars Alessandra Raengo and Samantha N. Sheppard, will respond to Myers’s work, which will be made available for all delegates to see ahead of the conference, while also addressing cinema’s potential (or otherwise) to transcend the color line, which Du Bois saw as the ‘central problem’ of the twentieth century, and the effects of which we still feel today in the era of Black Lives Matter, what Michelle Alexander calls ‘the new Jim Crow,’ and what Ruha Benjamin, in reference to the digital age, calls ‘the new Jim Code.’


Ambiguity and Habit in the Cinematic Encounter (Kelli Fuery)

In her review of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, Simone de Beauvoir makes a point concerning embodied perception, saying that ‘in spite of ethics’, each person knows intimately a life that is their own, where each person sees with their own eyes (1945b/2004: 159). She emphasises ambiguity within the experience of perception as a means of highlighting the more prevalent ambiguity within the human condition, supporting Merleau-Ponty’s use of the phenomenological approach that facilitates authentic connections with the world: ‘it is in giving myself to the world that I realize myself, and it is in assuming myself that I have a hold on the world’ (1945b/2004: 160). In other words, becoming enworlded as conscious and reflexive agents requires recognition and acceptance of ambiguous experience. This philosophy is clearly personified in the ‘Dunyementaries’, a collection of experimental films by African American filmmaker Cheryl Duyne, whose creative practice blends various reflexive, participatory and poetic modes to destabilise established narrative and documentary genres, crafting a subtle, yet effective style that celebrates ambiguity in women’s identity. In this keynote, I discuss phenomenologies of habit as a way to think through the relationship between racialised vision, situation, and freedom within film experience, ending with a consideration of how Dunye realises Alia Al-Saji’s (2014) phenomenology of hesitation as ethico-political action that interrupts complacent viewing habits in the cinematic encounter.


Pensive Images and Soundscapes of Recollection: A Conversation Between Malin Wahlberg and Susana de Sousa Dias on the Phenomenology of Cinema and Gestures of Resistance in Documentary Art

Following the viewing of the film Fordlandia Malaise (Susana de Sousa Dias, Portugal, 2019), this plenary session takes the form of a conversation between Professor Malin Wahlberg and filmmaker Susana de Sousa Dias on the complex temporality of appropriated images in reuse and reenactment, on aesthetic strategies and film philosophical inquiries into the phenomenology of unfolding archive memories and the invoked blanks, brutal traces and missing images of colonial violence and lived time. Tracing the line of tangible and intangible colonial heritage, Susana’s films invent forms for both thinking through and living with the legacy of the past. Her creative process engages the critical potential of memory work through documentary art forms that weave in ethics together with phenomenological exploration of pensive images, sounds and silences. The conversation will be interspersed with clips from Susana’s current work, a unique opportunity to gain insight into her ongoing productions and thinking process.


Skinner Myers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is an award-winning filmmaker who has written and directed eleven films, including La Tierra del Exodo, Nightmares by the Sea, Things of Beauty Burn and Frank Embree, which took home the Grand Jury Award at Hollyshorts. His feature film debut, The Sleeping Negro, World Premiered at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival and Internationally Premiered at the 2021 Champs-Elysees Film Festival in Paris, France. Myers has studied at Columbia University, Brooklyn College, the USC School of Cinematic Arts and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam.

Merawi Gerima is a filmmaker from Washington DC with a community-centered orientation. His first feature film, Residue, was a total communal endeavor, made possible primarily by the effort of the people it attempts to portray. Following its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival, where it received the Audience Award and Best Acting Award for lead Obinna Nwachukwu, it was an official selection at the 77th Venice International Film Festival’s Giornate degli Autori. Merawi is the son of celebrated filmmakers Shirikiana Aina and Haile Gerima.

Alessandra Raengo is Georgia State University Distinguished University Professor of Moving Image Studies and a recipient of the 2022-23 Paul Mellon Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She is a theorist of black aesthetics and visual culture, working at the intersection of Black Studies, Visual Culture Studies, Film Studies, Art History, and Aesthetic Theory. She is the author of On the Sleeve of the Visual: Race as Face Value (Dartmouth, 2013) and Critical Race Theory and Bamboozled(Bloomsbury, 2016), as well as numerous articles and book chapters on black cinema, the black visual arts, and Critical Race Theory. Dr Raengo is the Founding Editor in Chief of liquid blackness: journal of aesthetics and black studies, recently acquired by Duke University Press. The journal is an outgrowth of the liquid blackness group she founded in 2013 in the Moving Images Studies doctoral program, which is devoted to the study of the radical aesthetic possibilities of the visual and sonic arts of the Black diaspora. Under her leadership ‘liquid blackness’ developed into a multi-pronged project: a theoretical concept, a methodology, a pedagogy, an archival project, a digital humanities initiative archived at the Library of Congress, a curatorial practice, and a praxis of community-building. Most recently, Alessandra has been one of the driving forces behind AMPLIFY, a showcase for film students’ work that seeks to foster artistic and critical dialog around systemic anti-blackness. She is currently working on a book on black study as aesthetic practice.

Samantha N. Sheppard is an Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Studies in the Department of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University. She is the author of Sporting Blackness: Race, Embodiment, and Critical Muscle Memory on Screen (University of California Press, 2020), and the co-editor of From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry (University Press of Mississippi, 2016) and Sporting Realities: Critical Readings on the Sports Documentary (University of Nebraska Press, 2020). Having featured as a special guest for Turner Classic Movie's Black History Month programming and Sunday Silent Nights alongside TCM host Jacqueline Stewart, she is currently working on two book projects. The first, The Basketball Film: A Cultural and Transmedia History, is in progress and under contract with Rutgers University Press as a part of the ‘Screening Sports’ series. The second book is tentatively titled A Black W/hole: Phantom Cinemas and the Reimagining of Black Women's Media Histories, a project for which she was named a 2021 Academy Film Scholar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Kelli Fuery is associate professor in Film and Media Studies at Chapman University. She previously held positions at Birkbeck College, University of London and Monash University. She is the author of Visual Cultures and Critical Theory (co-authored; Bloomsbury Academic, 2003), New Media: Culture and Image (Palgrave 2008), The Gift in Visual Culture: Doubles, Disruption and Exchange (VDM Verlag, 2008), Wilfred Bion, Thinking and Emotional Experience with Moving Images (Routledge, 2019). Her most recent book is Ambiguous Cinema: From Simone de Beauvoir to Feminist Film Phenomenology (Edinburgh University Press, 2022). Her current project is an edited collection titled Film Phenomenologies.

Susana de Sousa Dias' work explores the dialectics of history and memory, questioning established regimes of visibility with a focus on the archive. Her films have been exhibited worldwide both in art venues and film festivals such as Berlinale, BAFICI, IDFA, Documenta (Keimena Film Program), Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, Arsenal - Institut for Film and Video Art, Berlin, Centre Pompidou, Paris, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Lisbon, etc. She received the Grand Prix Cinéma du Réel and the FIPRESCI Award for her film 48. In 2012 she created a female collective that directed Doclisboa, International Film Festival for two editions, establishing new sections such as Cinema of Urgency and Passages (Documentary & Contemporary Art). She teaches at the University of Lisbon.

Malin Wahlberg is a Professor in Cinema Studies at the Department for Media Studies, at Stockholm University. She is the author of Documentary Time. Film and Phenomenology (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), and has also published on film and historiography, experimental film and video, science cinema, and filmmaking in the context of public broadcasting culture. Her present work seeks to theorize the aesthetics and experience of sonic traces, recorded voices and sounding silence in documentary art.

Conference Team

Ben Tyrer (Director)

Lucy Bolton

William Brown

Vesna Lukic