New Book: Cinema at the Periphery (2010)

April 24, 2010 at 12:47 am

A long time in the making, “Cinema at the Periphery is finally out, published by Wayne State University Press in Detroit as part of their series on Contemporary Approaches to Film and Television, under the general editorship of Barry Keith Grant.

Our idea for this project was to explore marginal cinemas from around the world by bringing them together in a comparative perspective. Because, as we see from Iceland to Iran and from Singapore to Scotland, a growing intellectual and cultural wave of production is taking cinema beyond the borders of its place of origin and ventures into exploring faraway places, interacting with barely known peoples, and making new localities imaginable. In an array of films that are made in the context of these traditions, previously entrenched spatial divisions no longer function as firmly fixed grid coordinates, the hierarchical position of place as “center” is subverted, and new forms of representation become possible. Thus, for the project Cinema at the Periphery (first a conference in 2006 and now finally a book), we assembled criticism that explored issues of the periphery, including questions of transnationality, place, space, passage, and migration. The brief to the contributors was to examine the periphery in terms of locations, practices, methods, and themes. The volume includes geographic case studies of small national cinemas located at the global margins, like New Zealand, Denmark or Scotland, but also of filmmaking that comes from peripheral cultures, like Palestinian “stateless” cinema, Celtic-language film, Australian Aboriginal films, and cinema from Quebec. Therefore, the volume is divided into two key areas: industries and markets on the one hand, and identities and histories on the other. Yet as a whole, the project is to illustrate that the concept of “periphery” is not fixed but is always changing according to patterns of industry, ideology, and taste. Most importantly, however, Cinema at the Periphery proposes a workable approach that allows us to link the inextricable interrelationship that exists between production modes and circulation channels and the emerging narratives of histories and identities they enable. It includes some really important writing by leading authors in the field of transnational film studies.

Let me take the opportunity and make an important link here. Back in June 2006, at the inaugural conference that marked the beginning of this project, we recorded the presentations of many of our guests and made them available on-line. Some of these, like Faye Ginsburg (NYU), Mette Hjort (Lingnan), Patricial Pisters (Amsterdam), Sheldon Lu (Santa Barbara), Laura Marks (Simon Fraser), Bill Marshall (Stirling), and Duncan Petrie’s (York) talks became the basis of chapters in the current book. Others, like Dudley Andrew (Yale), John Caughie (Glasgow), Pam Cook (Southampton), Hamid Naficy (Northwestern), Rod Stoneman (Huston Film School), Kristian Feigelson (Paris), published their work elsewhere. While still others, like Lucia Nagib (Leeds), opted to participate in the book but by presenting us with texts on topics that differed from those that they presented. We also commissioned several essays that were added to the two parts of the volume (Industry and Ideology). These included contributions by all three of us — myself and David Martin-Jones (both still at the University of St. Andrews) and Belén Vidal (who since moved to take up a job at King’s College in London) — who acted as editors of the collection. We also included a specially commissioned piece by Kay Dickinson (Goldsmiths) (on Palestinian cinema in an international context). Back then, a number of reviews of the event appeared in the film press. Here is a link to the one published in Senses of Cinema.

Reviews of the book are still to materialise, and I would be most excited to see this volume reviewed internationally, at the periphery and in those locations whose cinematic cultures we aimed to discuss (e.g. Spain, Quebec, Denmark, Brazil, Morocco, New Zealand, Australia, China, Palestine, and others). If you are writing for the film journals in these (or other peripheral) countries, where there is likely to encounter particular interest to the writing included in the volume, for review copies, please be in touch with the Press’s coordinator Sarah Murphy at For the time being, we only have Ruby Rich’s lines that describe the book as a ‘collection of reflections that challenge conventional definitions of national film cultures’ that we can quote.

New Book Announcement: Moving People, Moving Images

March 12, 2010 at 4:50 am

Co-written with my colleagues William Brown and Leshu Torchin, Moving People, Moving Images: Cinema and Trafficking in the New Europe is the first title in our new series on Cinema and Transnational Discourse (St Andrews Film Studies, 2010). The next title planned for the series will look into the wide range of cinematic representations of international terrorism in cinema.

We hope to find a wide exposure for this volume, far beyond the narrow film studies field (it is no accident that this was also the best-selling title of all the books we introduced at the recent multiple book launch event at the BFI Filmstore on Southbank in London). It is a volume on the representation of human trafficking in international cinema, and even though it is a ‘film studies’ work, we believe it is really of interest to much wider circles as these are matters of immediate concern to social workers, migration specialists and activists. The book discusses a range of films, both feature and documentary, reflecting the situation with human trafficking in a great variety of countries — from Turkey to Sweden, from Sri Lanka to Greece, from Serbia to Italy, from North Africa to Spain, and so on.

ISBN (13): 978-1-9066-7803-6 (paperback)
Price £17.99 (UK), $29.00 (US)
Available for purchase by clicking through to St. Andrews Film Studies bookshop

The volume is divided in three parts, which include respectively general essays; close analysis of fifteen important international films on trafficking; commentary on the political aspects of the usage of these films in the context of activism.

Here is a more detailed Table of Contents

PART ONE. Landscapes
William Brown – Negotiating the Invisible
Leshu Torchin – Foreign Exchange
Dina Iordanova – Making Traffic Visible, Adjusting the Narrative

PART TWO: Close-Ups

In-depth analyses of The Bus (Turkey/Sweden, Tunc Okan), The Guardian Angel (Yugoslavia, Goran Paskaljevic), When Mother Comes Home for Christmas(Greece/India/Germany, Nilita Vachani), Wesh wesh, qu’est-ce qui se passe? (France, rabah Ameur-Zaimeche), Poniente (Spain, Chus Gutierrez), Spare Parts (Slovenia, Damjan Kozole), Promised Land (Israel/France, Amos Gitai), Ghosts (UK, Nick Broomfield), It’s a Free World… (UK, Ken Loach), Import/Export (Austria, Ulrich Seidl), Love on Delivery and Ticket to Paradise (Denmark), The Silence of Lorna (Belgium, Dardenne Brothers) and Taken (France, Pierre Morel).

Part THREE: Traffic Jam
Film, Activism, and Human Trafficking

Excerpts of reviews:

Moving People, Moving Images tackles human trafficking, one of the most serious consequences of the massive movement of people enabled by post-Wall processes of economic and cultural globalization in Europe. While immigration, migration, exile, and the illegal movement of people have been the subject of much work in film and media studies recently, few volumes would take such a bold stand in favour of the possibility of filmic activism. One of the attractions of this book is precisely that it refuses to tread lightly and tentatively across the well-established divide between cinematic representations and socio-political issues. It makes a provocative argument for the political effect of films and proposes that human trafficking should not be the rightful, let alone the exclusive, domain of governments, NGOs, activist organizations and the social sciences.
— Aniko Imre, University of Southern California

Moving People, Moving Images is a groundbreaking and much-needed study of the intersections between film and human trafficking. Through a sophisticated and versatile approach, and against the backdrop of theories of economic globalisation, transnationalism, post-colonialism, identity and modernity, it offers a theorisation of human trafficking that engages with a range of published work on social and critical theory as well as on film studies…. This volume is both a complete and valuable teaching tool, and a precious resource for future research, and sets the agenda for more work in this all-important area.
— Laura Rascaroli, University College Cork, Ireland

Available for purchase by clicking through to St. Andrews Film Studies bookshop

Film Festival Yearbook 2: Film Festivals and Imagined Communities

February 23, 2010 at 12:54 am

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new volume on film festivals, co-edited with Ruby Cheung, a research associate of the Dynamics of World Cinema project and an alumna of our PhD programme in Film Studies at the University of St. Andrews. The book is the second in the series; the first volume, the Film Festival Yearbook 1: The Festival Circuit, was published in 2009.


Edited by Dina Iordanova with Ruby Cheung
ISBN: 978-0-9563730-1-4 (paperback) £17.99; 304 pp. , 2010.

Film Festivals and Imagined Communities, the second volume in the Film Festival Yearbook series, brings together essays about festivals that use international cinema to mediate the creation of transnational ‘imagined communities’. There are texts about the cultural policies and funding models linked to these festivals, as well as analysis of programming practices linked to these often highly politicised events. The case studies discuss diaspora-linked festivals that take place in Vienna, San Francisco, San Sebastian, Havana, Bradford, Sahara, South Korea, and London and that feature cinema from places as diverse as Nepal and Kurdistan, Africa and Latin America. Authors include Lindiwe Dovey, Ruby Cheung, Michael Guillén, Jérôme Segal, Miriam Ross, Roy Stafford, Yun Mi Hwang, Isabel Santaolalla and Stefan Simanowitz, Mustafa Gündoğdu, and Dina Iordanova. The Resources section features an up-to-date bibliography on film festival scholarship (by Skadi Loist and Marijke de Valck) and an extensive thematically-organised listing of a variety of transnational festivals.


Introduction (Dina Iordanova and Ruby Cheung)

PART I: Contexts

Mediating Diaspora: Film Festivals and ‘Imagined Communities’ (Dina Iordanova)
Directors’ Cut: In Defence of African Film Festivals outside Africa (Lindiwe Dovey)
Funding Models of Themed Film Festivals (Ruby Cheung)

PART II: Case Studies
Bite the Mango: Bradford’s Unique Film Festival (Roy Stafford)
Under the Migrant Lens: Migrant Worker Film Festival in South Korea (Yun Mi Hwang)
A Cinematic Refuge in the Desert: The Sahara International Film Festival (Isabel Santaolalla and Stefan Simanowitz)
Diasporas by the Bay: Two Asian Film Festivals in San Francisco (Michael Guillén)
Film Festivals and the Ibero-American Sphere (Miriam Ross)
Film Festivals in the Diaspora: Impetus to the Development of Kurdish Cinema? (Mustafa Gündoğdu)
Identities and Politics at the Vienna Jewish Film Festival (Jérôme Segal)

PART III: Resources
Thematic Bibliography on Film Festival Research – Update: 2009 (Skadi Loist and Marijke de Valck)
The Listings: Transnational Film Festivals (Dina Iordanova)
1. African Film Festivals (Lindiwe Dovey)
2. Latin American and Ibero-American Film Festivals (Miriam Ross)
3. Asian Film Festivals (Andrew Dorman)
4. Jewish Film Festivals (Jérôme Segal)
5. Palestinian Film Festivals (Serazer Pekerman)
6. Turkish Film Festivals (Serazer Pekerman)
7. French Film Festivals (Ruby Cheung)
8. German Film Festivals (Ruby Cheung)
9. Greek Film Festivals (Serazer Pekerman)
10. Taiwanese Film Festivals (Yun-hua Chen)
11. Overseas Film Festivals in London (UK) (Andrew Dorman)
12. Overseas Film Festivals in Los Angeles (U.S.) (Andrew Dorman)
13. Overseas Film Festivals in San Francisco (U.S.) (Andrew Dorman)

Buy from St. Andrews Film Bookshop by clicking through here.

Buy on Amazon by clicking on the image below

The Field of Film Festival Studies and thoughts on ‘the field’ of Media Industries in general

April 8, 2009 at 12:29 am

In the aftermath of the Film Festivals workshop which we held here in St. Andrews on 4 April 2009, my colleague Leshu Torchin sent me a link to an interesting interview which Henry Jenkins had posted on his blog just days earlier. It is called Studying Media Industries: An Interview with Jennifer Holt and Alisa Perren, a posting in two parts, which can be accessed by clicking through to Part I and Part II. This is also the place to note that Jennifer Holt and Alisa Perren are the editors of the new edited collection on Media Industries (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) shown below.

Even though I believe that the field of Film Festival Studies that we were trying to outline during the workshop is different than Media Industries as it is marked by a range of specific features, I could not help finding the discussion of items in this interview particularly pertinent, maybe because it relates to methodological issues on matters of defining the field. Many of the same and related questions were in the centre of our attention last week as well: What is the role of historical investigation? How can one bring different approaches in dialogue with each other? What is the current state of research in this emerging field? How do the dramatic technological developments affect production, distribution, administration, policy and audiences? Can we study festival production meaningfully without constantly referencing the work on festival audiences? How about integrating the work done on these matters in the field of management studies? How can increase the visibility of important work already being done by our contributors?

And last but absolutely not least: How to highlight the fact that significant work being done outside of the academy by journalists and activists is of particular importance and influence, especially, as Jennifer Holt puts it: ‘some of the most insightful and informative analysis of media industries can be found in the popular press, the blogosphere and trade publishing, where journalists and critics have generated a tremendous amount of momentum’. Didn’t this become most obvious by the great interventions that people like Nick Roddick and Michael Gubbins made in the course of the Festivals Workshop last week?

In short, I found all issues that were brought up in the context of this interview of direct relevance to our concerns in relation to the field of Film Festival studies. Read the interview! I am planning to read the book next.

© Dina Iordanova
8 April 2009

Who is Your City? Richard Florida. Part I

January 14, 2009 at 12:16 am

The title of this book (and its subtitle) — Richard Florida’s Who’s Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where You Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life
— really grabbed me. While I did not think that where to live would be the MOST important decision of my life, I knew for certain that in was one of the most important decisions one has to make from time to time. First, because being a migrant, I have had the chance to realise what a difference a place can make. Secondly, because I am in a stage of life when I have come to realise that, after several years of living in a quiet and beautiful small-town location, I may be wiser to prepare a move sometime in the next few years, once I enter the ’empty nester’ stage (in Florida’s classification).

Anyhow, I did not buy the book while in the US earlier in the year, as I first saw it at the shop of the Modern Art museum in Chicago where the price for the hardback was simply too high. I thought I would order it from Amazon when I get back home, an so I did. When it arrived, I eagerly jumped on to reading it: I did not want to delay any further the moment when I would get to prepare my next move and I thought the book may help me do this in an informed manner (especially as it promised a type of self-help part at the end, where it were to facilitate making a decision on the matter of who your city might be according to one’s personal circumstances).

I love the place where I currently live, as it perfectly fits my personal situation at the present stage. I ended up here not as a result of planning, but it could not have been a better choice. It is safe, homey, beautiful, has got great schools and I see my son thrive in a way he would not in another location. However, he will soon be eighteen, and even if he is still around after that time comes, I would be free to move myself. And, admittedly, I am somewhat tired to live in a conservation village on the seaside: nice and I would always love to keep this place, but not live here permanently.

Richard Florida’s book, thus, came with a great promise: it was meant to help clarify things and make enlightened decisions. A colleague had recommended it as well, albeit with some reservations. It was probably due to the high expectations I had vested, that a feeling of disappointment came about around midway of my reading, and then progressively took over entirely. Starting with the great promise of addressing matters of great importance and persuasively arguing that the decision where you would live may be a key to other things, the book then abandons its own premise and turns into a discussion of urban areas in the US, offering commentary that I found boring and monotonous for the most part. I should have simply stopped reading after the first part or so.

The biggest disappointment was the slump from the opening global perspective to the exclusive focus on the US. Well, probably most of Florida’s readers would be American, but if this was a book about them and for them, it should have been pitched as such. Not that this is the first book that I see making this slump. However, I am really sick and tired of the logically unsound and deeply problematic epistemological operation of silently equating the world with the US and then substituting the second for the first, which is still being performed by many American authors and scholars.

Indeed, we live in a global world and if Florida really wanted to show us how important the decision where to live is, he should have kept his discussion in the same vein he started off — globally. Yes, the world is not flat as Thomas Friedman has it but is spiky, as Florida is correct to point out. It is a global spikiness, however, and the biggest spikes of creative activity nowadays are scattered around the globe and are not only in North America but also in places like Europe, Asia, or Latin America. The real new creative class is not one that is limited to the US but one that moves between spikes, spending time not only in Silicon Valley and New York but in equally (if not more) important places like Tokyo or Hong Kong, Sydney and Milan, Rio and London.

Instead developing his argument along the lines he himself set out, instead of presenting the global moves of the creative class, what Florida does is to argue, in the theoretical part, with the help of all sorts of world-wide maps showing how not all places are equal, how there are ‘spikes’ where world’s creativity is clustering, and so on. Soon thereafter it is all forgotten and the author’s attention shrinks to the US exclusively (well, Toronto is also included as a place to where he has recently moved, apparently the biggest shift the author himself has undertaken in his search for the perfect location).

Yet the unspoken premise that the US is, by default, a more desirable country to live than other places, is precisely the one that needs to be questioned. Many of the locations that pop up in Florida’s discussion in parts three and four of his book have really got very little to do with the spikes of creative clusters that are discussed in earlier parts. Why did I spend all this time reading so far? To receive recommendations and lists of great places to live, such as East Lancing, MI? Been there, done that. True, in the context of the Wall-Mart/Best Buy/Starbucks/Hard Rock Cafe-dominated city scapes of America these may be acceptable places. Florida’s recommendations, however, have got little to do with the real decisions that members of the creative class are making on the matter where to live. Because nowadays an informed decision on these matters cannot possibly be limited to one country. And because, as it will transpire from the second part of my discussion, the coolest places to live, are actually located elsewhere. See Part II.

© Dina Iordanova
14 January 2009

Film International Special Issue on Film Festivals (Vol. 6, Issue 4)

August 19, 2008 at 12:24 am

I recently guest edited a special issue of Film International on Film Festivals, which has just been published as Issue 34 (Vol. 6, issue 4). It features articles and interviews on the international festival circuit, authored by contributors who are based in Spain, South Korea, the Netherlands, the UK, Canada, Germany, the US and Norway. The journal is available for sale at Borders bookshops; in the UK it is priced at £3. It can also be purchased on-line from the Intellect at or by e-mailing

Opening Night at Pusan IFF; photo courtesy Kay Armatage.

Here is the Table of Contents:

Dina Iordanova. Editorial.

Sergi Mesonero Burgos, A Festival Epidemic in Spain.

Marijke de Valck, “Screening” the Future of Film Festivals? A Long Tale of
Convergence and Digitization.

Soo Jeong Ahn. Re-imagining the Past: Programming South Korean Retrospectives at
the Pusan International Film Festival.

Kay Armatage. Screenings by Moonlight.

Kay Armatage. Sidebar: Traveling Projectionist Films.

Jeffrey Ruoff. Ten Nights in Tunisia: Les Journées Cinématographiques de

Julian Stringer. Genre Films and Festival Communities: Lessons from Nottingham,

Peter Stanfield. Notes Toward a History of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, 1969-77.

Erika and Ulrich Gregor. An Interview with Dina Iordanova: Every Time the Curtain is Going Up, We are Hoping and Longing.

Bjørn Sørenssen. Le giornate del cinema muto: Pordenone.

Budding Channels of Peripheral Cinema

June 12, 2008 at 12:21 am

My new book — Budding Channels of Peripheral Cinema: The Long Tail of Global Film Distribution — is now out.

It deals with the ‘budding channels’ of global cinematic circulation in the Long Tail — circulation of films from smaller countries, film festivals, diasporic channels, and the Internet — which are finally being noticed but are still being studied independently from one another. Yet, there is growing and overarching acknowledgment that they increasingly interact and interlink in a hybrid and flexible manner. Wih this text I am trying to bring them all into perspective.

The book is published with one of the most-advanced Print on Demand pieces of software around — Blurb‘s Book Smart — probably the only one that can handle images of such quality that would satisfy the discerning needs of film studies folk. (I came across it after reading Stephen H. Wildstrom’s review in Business Week).

Hard cover

The Long Tail of Gl…
By Dina Iordanova

© Dina Iordanova
29 May 2008

A Year Working Abroad

May 26, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Read Stephen Clarke’s presumably best-selling A Year in the Merde (a.k.a. Merde Actually). Yes, it must be best-selling if I have also bought it, but I was disappointed. As the book opens up with a quote from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, I was looking forward to encounter an example of sophisticated English humor. Alas, it was a far cry from the kind of hilarious writing that the English are able to offer.

A Year in the Merde was first self-published in around 200 copies and distributed among the writer’s friends. Later on, it was picked up and marketed internationally by large publishing houses. The story of its success suggests that there is great interest for the genre that tells stories of cross-cultural hick-ups at the place of work, and especially those that are structured around reporting on the anxieties of some innocuous character who is thrown to swim alone in the treacherous waters of foreign corporate milieu.

Indeed, I really really enjoy this kind of writing, maybe because it allows me to compare notes with my personal émigré experience. For the time being, my personal favorite of this genre is Amelie Nothomb’s Fear and Trembling, which is structured around a similar premise and tells of the trials and tribulations of a young French woman who spends a year in Japan working at a large corporation. Now, this one is a really gripping and darkly humorous treatise on the themes of cross-cultural prejudice and adaptation distress. Alain Corneau’s film based on the book, starring Sylvie Testud, is a real gem.

Even though a best-seller in France, the English translation of the novel has not been published in book format and at the moment appears to only be available for downloads on Amazon’s new Kindle reading device which for the time being sells solely in North America.

© Dina Iordanova
27 May 2008

Defining Moments in Movies: The Greatest Films, Stars, Scenes and Events that Made Movie Magic

May 21, 2008 at 12:29 am

I was pleased to be part of this project, like the other fifty or so film critics and historians from around the world (from Argentina through India and The Philippines to Australia), who contributed to it. Chris Fujiwara, the Japan-based editor, approached us with the idea to put together a book that would highlight film history as a series of important ‘moments’ taking place around the world. We were to either pick topics from a tentative list he was working from, or propose our own and send in short contributions on what we thought of as such defining building blocks. Then he compiled them in chronological order. The resulting record, highlighting important films and events that were made or had taken place within the same year but across a variety of geographical locations, presents a uniquely ample and radically new take on film history. It is probably the first attempt in film scholarship to map the chronology of world cinema in a comparative and comprehensive manner that keeps in view the global dynamics of the medium.

Usually, the story of world cinema is told by placing Hollywood in the center of attention, which, in an effort to keep the narrative focused, inevitably leads to highlighting other developments as secondary or as having come about as a reaction to developments in American film. This approach leads to biased understanding of the dynamics of world cinema which is not only inaccurate and incomplete. With our increasing knowledge of the history of various film traditions, with the improved availability of classical international cinematic texts on DVD in the Long Tail, and with the growing number of articulate authors who are closely familiar with and conscious of the importance and the influence of non-Western cultural outputs, it is more than ever seen as politically incorrect. In essence, Fujiwara’s project was inviting for a specific and subtle revision of official film historiography, an opportunity that the community of knowledgeable film scholars and writers immediately embraced. For example I was able to write on themes close to my heart, ranging from the hugely successful Indian classic Awara (1951) to the hugely influential speech from Dusan Makavejev’s WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971), as well as on important books that have shaped our thinking on film and have widened our horizons in recent years, such as Ella Shohat and Robert Stam’s Unthinking Eurocentrismand Hamid Naficy’s An Accented Cinema.

When I received the book (published in two versions, both shown below) I was truly impressed with the result. At last we have a piece of thorough historiography that covers a huge range of lesser-known aspects of world cinema and thus opens up the way to gradually setting the record straight. The book is published by Cassell Illustrated; I hope to see more projects of this sort to come about soon, both from popular trade publishers and academic ones.

© Dina Iordanova
21 May 2008

Scholar’s Library in upstate New York, Peter Gluck Architects

May 19, 2008 at 12:59 am

I believe I finally came across a visualization of what I imagine to be the perfect working space, something that concerns me a lot. What I would produce hugely depends on the ambiance in which I work. Having grown determined to create the perfect working place for myself, I discovered what it should look like it in the photograph of this office space, created by Gluck Partners in 2004 in Olive Bridge (Catskills mountains) for a Japanese scholar. It is pictured in a book we bought at the modern furniture department of Bon Marché in Paris, Library Design, which contains scoores of other inspiring images for people like myself who live with books, DVDs and CDs all around.

I am longing to enter this office, open my computer, and start writing. The minimalist clutter-free space, the clear surface of the desk, the books — present yet tucked away below the level of the desk, and thus not domineering, and, the most important element, the wide clean window through which one sees trees.

Now that I have found what I want, my next biggest hurdle toward creating a space like this for myself is finding the place. I have to think up a way to somehow reconcile the location where I live with what I really like. I am now based in a village on the shores of the North Sea in Scotland, a lovely place which many people would find most beautiful. But I like to be surrounded by trees, and in this respect my ideal place would be somewhere around Muskoka lake or some other Ontario lake (or upstate New York, for that matter). Yes, I do have view of the sea from my window, and the skies and the golf spaces in Scotland are so beautiful. However, there are not many trees around, and certainly no houses are built among the trees even where they exist. I still ponder on how to resolve my need to see trees through the window. How can I combine a country I love (Scotland) with a landscape I need (Ontario)?

© Dina Iordanova
19 May 2008