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Film in the Colony Symposium

The early decades of cinema (1890s to 1940s) coincide with the late colonial periods of three southern-hemisphere British colonies: New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. In each colony films were made about indigenous peoples, and their relationships with settlers. Some were historical films; others documented, or capitalised on, indigenous life by drawing on legends or scenes of traditional life; others developed fictional narratives. This symposium investigates the uses of locally-made moving images, for colonies-becoming-nations, and for indigenous communities and their sense of cultural belonging.

Early film-makers had varying relationships with indigenous groups, and for the most part they worked within genres that were shaped by the codes of imported film. But film-making including portrayals of indigenous peoples, unlike writing or painting, has the distinctive characteristic of requiring that its creators deal directly with their subjects, raising questions about the possibilities, if also the limitations, of this medium in cultural dialogue. How did the involvement of indigenous peoples in the film-making process open out new understandings of collaboration, co-creativity and cross-cultural exchange? What forms of agency did indigenous people exercise in specific productions, and what traces did such agency leave on the screen, or at the sites of production (in local memory, for example)? Did indigenous people make their own films? What were the implications and outcomes of filming traditional stories on historical locations, or within contemporary communities? How were these productions received by local audiences, both indigenous and settler communities? How are they consumed, remembered, interpreted and valued as records of the past in the present?

This symposium investigates these early films, and the cultural engagements involved in their making. We invite papers that investigate the cross-cultural processes of film production in the colonial context, and the ways in which indigenous and settler participants – performers, crew, or people from the localities where filming took place – took part in productions. In focusing primarily on New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, the symposium also seeks to develop a comparative analysis of the means through which film contributed to the making of national stories in the late colonial era, and how indigenous communities within these colonies engaged with the first few decades of film culture.

Registration is now open, but please note that room capacity is limited to 90 people.

Date Wednesday, 12 July 2017 - Saturday, 15 July 2017
Time 9:00am - 5:00pm
Audience Public
Event Category Humanities
Event Type Symposium
LocationNga Taonga Sound and Vision, 84 Taranaki Street, Wellington
CostFull Registration: $100 (General) & $85 (Student)
Daily Registration: $70 (General) & $55 (Student)
Conference Dinner: $45
Contact NameAssociate Profesor Annabel Cooper

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