2014 Workshop on Cinematic Thinking: Cinema's Realisms

13th-18th November 2014 UNSW

The fifth cinematic thinking workshop was dedicated to reconsidering cinematic realism and followed by presentations at UNSW by the philosophers Robert Pippin (University of Chicago) and Alain Badiou (Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris).

The workshop undertook to consider the questions posed by cinema's realisms to understanding cinematic thinking. We asked scholars to reconsider the parameters of cinematic realism along numerous lines: Does the issue of cinema's realism more appropriately derive from the ontology of film or its aesthetics? And how does the attribution of it to one dimension of film rather than the other determine the ethical questions that attach to it? What does a realism look like that is devoted not to representation and verisimilitude but to the exposition of the constituting lack that lies at the heart of encounter with the real, our ability to make sense of it, and to communicate such sense to others? Is it the case that cinema is better able to do this than other media? And what do other media then hope to achieve when they claim to be drawing on the cinematic? What evidence is there in contemporary cinema of the materialist and/or ethical realism associated with Kracauer's and Bazin's thinking about the medium? Is there scope in Bazin's writing to consider cinematic automatism not as an attempt to capture reality but as peculiarly responsive to its irretrievability, to consider realism not as a tendency that strives for an assurance of presence but as an aesthetic devoted to its loss? Is realism the key to cinema's ethical dimension? Should it be equated with style? Does the recent surge in non-fiction film have something to contribute to a renewed interest in cinematic realism and its vicissitudes?

Workshop Program

Download the full program with abstracts

Presenters at the workshop included:

  • Lisabeth During 'The Realism Wars'
  • Richard Rushton 'On Deleuze and Metz: Signification and the Real in Cinema'
  • Damian Cox 'Spectator-Based Theory of Cinematic Realism'
  • Julian Murphet 'Labour, Reality, Cinema'
  • Philip Martin '"You Can (Not) Believe": Anime-Worlds and the Question of Animetic Realism from Evangelion to the Monogatari Series'
  • George Kouvaros '"It's Not Quite Right Yet": Realism and Affect in A Woman Under the Influence and A Nos Amours'
  • Saige Walton 'Film Realism and Rhythm: Apprehending Stranger by the Lake'
  • Jane Stadler 'Felt Realities: Phenomenology, Experiential Realism, and Sound Effects'
  • Tara Forrest 'The Anti-Realism of Feelings: Alexander Kluge's Political Realist Aesthetic'
  • Rex Butler 'The Real of the Spirit/The Spirit of the Real'
  • Sigi Jöttkandt 'Mimesis and Mimicry in Nabokov: The "Reel" Life of Sebastian Knight'
  • James Phillips 'Anti-Oedipus: The Ethics of Performance and Misrecognition in Matsumoto Toshio's Funeral Parade of Roses'
  • Greg Hainge 'Realism, Relativity and (R)egress'
  • Richard Smith 'Belief, Perception, Cognition: Bazin and the New Sciences of Cinema'
  • Jenny McMahon 'Shaping Experience Upstream: Film and the Conditions for Realism'
  • Marguerite La Caze 'Realism as Resistance: The Case of Wadjda'
  • Hamish Ford 'Realism Reconceived: Altman's Challenge'
  • Mathew Abbott 'The Realism of Artifice: On Kiarostami's Five'
  • David Macarthur 'A Critique of Cavell's Cinematic Realism: Another Route to the Skeptical Condition of Film'
  • Robert Pippin 'Psychology Degree Zero: On the Representation of Action in the Films of the Dardenne Brothers'

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