Cinema’s Past, Present and Future: A Changing Medium in an Uncertain Global Landscape

Image of two young men working with a digital camera.

In this series of Sadler seminars, a discussion will be initiated on cinema’s past, present and futures.

Series convenors

Paul Cooke (CWCDC); Angelos Koutsourakis (LCS)

Project overview

Much of the recent discussion in the field of film studies is concerned with the technological changes that have challenged our past assumptions and certainties with regard to the film medium.

A large part of scholarship is devoted to debates on the death of cinema or the loss of the medium’s epistemological dimension on account of the shift from the analogue to the digital. On this view, cinema’s digital turn and the proliferation of computer generated imagery has provoked a crisis of the medium’s identity. Furthermore, the steady proliferation of screen technologies and social media platforms have diminished cinema’s cultural force.

However, scholars coming from a different theoretical background argue that many of the recent technological developments have their roots in the past, while despite the technological changes filmmakers across the globe keep on making films that serve the medium’s past function: to record and reflect on the world as set before us.

These approaches have generated an increasing interest in cinema’s history, as well as in early film theoretical debates that understood cinema ‘as a form of art and entertainment but also as a medium of culture, science, education, training, politics, philosophy, and governmentality’. Meanwhile, films produced across the globe and distributed through traditional or novel platforms keep on provoking strong political / social debates and thus challenge the argument that cinema’s status as a public sphere has declined.

In effect, cinema’s capacity to challenge our certainties and assumptions about the world seems to be firmly established something that becomes even more pertinent when considering the new political developments in the global arena and the social, economic, and geopolitical uncertainties they have generated.

In terms of film production, proposed plans for an EU single-market seem to undermine the very European film industry they want to support. The industry has raised the alarm that preventing production companies to sell film rights on a territorial basis will lead to monopolistic practices and will threaten the diversity of European film production and culture.

In addition, the uncertainties brought about by the 2016 UK referendum might have negative repercussions both on the UK and EU film output, given that potential restrictions on free movement and tax tariffs will have dismal effects on future co-productions and collaborations on a European scale. 

In this series of Sadler seminars we intend to initiate a discussion on cinema’s past, present and futures so as to investigate how: 

1) Past debates can be instrumental in understanding the medium’s development.

2) Cinema’s position as a social institution in the digital age. 

3) Cinema’s role in a global environment that becomes increasingly unstable. 

A series of events will be organised, led by colleagues in the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures (CWCDC) in collaboration with external partners, each of which is also intended to support the development of an external funding bid, from an AHRC network grant to the supporting of Leeds collaboration in an AHRC creative industries hub bid. 


Details of all events to be confirmed. Please keep checking this page for updates.

Tuesday, 28 November between 1-6pm - Audiovisual Heritage Meeting

March 2018 (TBC)

March / April 2018 (TBC) - Building Networks and Screening Films: Strategies for Collaboration Between Academics and Film Curators in a Digital Age to be organised by Mr Andrew Moore

September 2018 (TBC) -  British Cinema after Brexit: Challenges and Opportunities to be organised by Dr Chris Homewood

(TBC) - Digital Borders: The Politics of Film Distribution in and Beyond Europe to be organised by Mrs Rachel Johnson

Cinemas of Crisis to be organised by Dr Angelos Koutsourakis