CFP - Spiral Film and Philosophy Conference 2019

Spiral Film and Philosophy Conference 2019

“It’s Alive! Film/Form/Life”

Toronto, Canada

May 17-18, 2019

On the walls of the Chauvet cave in France, drawings of animals dating back to 30,000 years are represented with additional sets of legs. Recently, it was suggested that far from being naïve mistakes, these additional limbs were meant to represent life forms in movement. Thousands of years later, Étienne-Jules Marey’s chronophotography attempted to capture animated life by decomposing its movement in discrete images. In 2013, National Geographic published a short video of a sprinting cheetah recorded with a Phantom camera filming at 1200 frames per second. The engine for cinema’s genesis, it appears, is closely intertwined with the challenge of giving form to animated life.

It is no coincidence that the recent mutations reshaping both how movies are being made and experienced are taking place right at the moment when a geological age radically transformed by human activities for thousands of years is finally being granted its own name: the anthropocene. The relentless recreation of the world has for long been the concern of artistic expression, from animation in the paleolithic age, to attempts by early cinema at decomposing life’s movement, to the most recent feats by ground breaking digital technologies redefining the realm of vision. Ongoing mutations in the ways in which we experience a world itself perpetually changing demand that we constantly come up with new forms of expression. From this perspective, life itself seems currently suspended in the tension between what George Bataille once called the “formless” and the desire (if not the need) to give a sensible and intelligible form to our lives. Life forms, far from being fixed, increasingly appear to be in flux, transitioning from one state to another, through genetic cloning and digital simulation. 

This year’s Spiral Film and Philosophy conference wants to examine how cinema has been and may very well still be teetering on the threshold of that which is yet without a recognizable form — the unsayable, but also the untamed: what exists beyond regimes of traditional representation — and the reproduction of recognizable forms of life. As such, this call for papers is open to but also extends beyond the mere cinematic capture and representation of life. It welcomes contributions about filming life, including but not limited to:

• recent breakthroughs in 3D cinematic rendering of previously invisible molecular activities;
• “cartoon physics” and animation (including puppetry, claymation, stop-motion, etc.);
• micro-cinematography experiments and time-lapsed representation of vegetable life;
• data visualization of population transformation and movement (migration, etc.);
• Muybridge’s and Marey’s motion studies to early scientific cinema;
• medical deployments of photography and the cinematic image;
• life, movement and death of cyberbody, digital organisms; 
• life under neoliberal capitalism, accelerationist aesthetics;
• cinema and automatism (Bazin, Cavell, Surrealism, etc.);
• biological (science-)fictions (Painlevé, Cousteau, etc.);
• machine vision, drone vision, surveillance cinema;
• imaginary monsters, monstrous imaginaries;
• environmental disasters, the chthulucene;
• posthuman life and the anthropocene;
• sensory ethnography, haptic cinema;
• afrofuturist depictions of life;
• live cinema, interactive TV;  
• metamorphosing bodies;
• queer animation;
• biopolitical cinema.

We invite participants to think forms of life as being more than the mere subject of a cinematic regime of representation. What would it entail, for example, to think of cinema itself as a form of life in constant flux, resisting any definitive spectacular commodification? More to the point, what would it mean to think of a kinetic animation of form — or style, or ethos — as being radically inseparable from its content? Could “cinema” be more than an objectified mise-en-scène, but the designation for an ensemble of living practices and technics taking place in a specific but ever-changing environment?

We also welcome papers that engage with the work of specific philosophers and theorists who think about forms of life and philosophy from a variety of perspectives and further relate them to questions of cinema and media studies. We also welcome filmmakers, media practitioners, and activists to present and discuss their work.

The confirmed Keynote Speaker is Deborah Levitt, Assistant Professor of Culture & Media Studies at The New School, in New York City. She is the author of The Animatic Apparatus: Animation, Vitality, and the Futures of the Image (Zero Books, 2018), and has published articles and interviews in Waking Life: Kino zwischen Technik und Leben, Inflexions: A Journal of Research-Creation, The Scholar and Feminist Online, Acting and Performance in Moving Image Culture: Bodies, Screens, and Renderings, The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 2010, and The Agamben Dictionary, among others.

The conference will be held in Toronto, Canada May 17-18, 2019.

Please send a 300-word abstract, brief bibliography, and bio (with institutional affiliation, if applicable) in one document as an email attachment to by January 15, 2019. Notifications about acceptance or rejection of proposal will be sent promptly.

Conference Registration Fee:
Conference Attendance: $100 (Canadian)
Graduate Students and Underemployed: $50 (Canadian)

Conference website:

Organized by the Spiral Film and Philosophy Collective in collaboration with the department of Cinema and Media Studies, York University.

CFP - Ischia International Festival of Philosophy, Due May 1st

Dear all,

Please find here a film philosophy-related call for papers:

The Ischia International Festival of Philosophy will convene for its Fourth Edition in Ischia from September 22-30, 2018. The theme for this year's Festival is "Human Nature," and the deadline for paper proposals is May 1, 2018. Additional details and the full CFP are available at:

Wishing everyone the best,


Spiral Conference CFP

Dear all,

Happy New Year! Please find below a CFP for the upcoming Spiral Film and Philosophy conference. Please feel free to share widely. 

For those of you who will be attending the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Toronto in March, we are in the process of finalizing our SIG reception and sponsored panels, and will pass along the information soon. 

Wishing everyone a great semester,


Spiral Film and Philosophy Conference 2018, "Thinking Space,"

Toronto, May 11-12th, 2018

Since Muybridge’s chronophotographic experiments, the relationship between cinema and time has been well documented. Less obvious, perhaps, is the relationship of cinema with space. Following the so-called digital mutation of recording and viewing technologies, this issue has nonetheless made its way to the forefront of cinema and media studies. It is not only that moviegoing is being decentered by the rise of portable viewing platforms — as cinema happens more and more outside of traditional theatres —, but also that the usual medium of inscription of film — the celluloid base — has been radically opened by new media.

This recent dislocation of film represents a unique opportunity to examine the relationship between space, philosophy and film. What does it mean for film-philosophy to happen — to take place — as a theoretical event in the gaps opened by this disruption? In what ways can thinking be informed by this spatial turn going on in film and media studies? What kind of possibilities arise when the spatiality of the medium is being considered from a cinematic perspective? All these questions require that we carry over Foucault’s intuition into film-philosophy: “[t]he present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space” (1986).

We specifically seek papers that engage space and cinema beyond both the static and the merely representational. The focus should instead be on the dynamic way in which the visual tracing of movement allows both for the creation of space and the opening of new paths for thought. Topics and issues to cover may include (but are not limited to):

- not merely the cinema of architecture, but the architecture of movement;
- immersive experience involving sight, sound and other senses;
- aesthetic and critical approaches to developments in virtual reality and “total cinema”;
- mediations allowed by the cinematic experience;
- cinematic and mediatized tracing and mapping of space (gesture, projection, etc.);
- dislocation of the filmgoing experience (cinematic experience decentered: GIF, iPhone);
- cinematic space less as object of representation, but as process of thought-making;
- cinematic questioning of traditional space (i.e. space-folding in Inception, deconstruction of classical spatial grammar in post-WWII European cinema)
- topological approaches to thinking the axes of space and time in the creation of cinematic worlds;
- innovative cinematic treatment of specific typologies of space: interstellar space (Gravity), place, location, zone (Stalker), area, ambiance, environment and ecology (first space footage of Earth), globalization;
- phenomenological and affective inquiries into living spaces, lifeworlds, etc.;
- posthuman, object-oriented, and speculative realist inquiries into non-, post-, and para-human space (hyperobjects, anthropocene, chthulucene, capitalocene, etc.);
- space and (in)visibilities in cinema and media (sites of appearance and disappearance, scenes of light and darkness, staging, audition, etc.);
- biopolitical engagements with space and place (i.e. the camp, logics of capture, everyday life)
- fragmentation of space (Shaviro’s post-continuity)

We welcome papers that engage with the work of specific philosophers and theorists who think about space and philosophy from a variety of perspectives and further relate them to questions of cinema and media studies. We also welcome filmmakers, media practitioners, and activists to present and discuss their work.

The confirmed Keynote Speaker is Andrew Culp, Professor in the Faculty of Aesthetics and Politics at California Institute of the Arts. He is the author of Dark Deleuze (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), and has published articles and interviews in boundary 2, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, parallax, Angelaki, Affinities, and Radical Philosophy. He is currently working on a book project entitled Persona Obscura.

The conference will be held in Toronto, Canada May 11-12, 2018.

Please send a 300-350-word abstract, brief bibliography, and bio (with institutional affiliation, if applicable) in one document as an email attachment to by Friday, March 2, 2018. Notifications about acceptance or rejection of proposal will be sent promptly.

Conference Registration Fee:
Conference Attendance: $100 (Canadian)
Graduate Students and Underemployed: $50 (Canadian)

Conference website:

Organized by the Spiral Film and Philosophy Collective in collaboration with the department of Cinema and Media Studies, York University.

Sarte and Cinema Dossier and Two CFPs

Dear Members,

Please find below a CFP on Documentary and Philosophy that should be of interest. I also wanted to draw your attention to a recent dossier that Senses of Cinema has made available on the subject of Sarte and the Cinema (scroll down on the page to find it). Lastly, here is another CFP for Paris conference on The Aesthetic Potential of the Virtual: Device, Form, Idea. This latter CFP's deadline is Nov 10th.

Wishing everyone a great November!



Documentary/Philosophy International Conference

May 22-24, 2018 

Conference Venue: 

The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, Tel Aviv University 

The Tel Aviv Cinematheque 

Organizing Committee: Dr. Shai Biderman, Dr. Shmulik Duvdevani and Dr. Ohad Landesman (Tel Aviv University, The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television) 

Executive Producer: Tal Avidan 

There is a century-old tradition of defining documentary in philosophical terms. Yet, this tradition seems to miss the most intelligible (yet, conspicuously evasive) aspect of documentary praxis: its conceptual entanglement with philosophy itself. This entanglement is oddly mirrored in Carl Plantinga’s characterization of the documentary as an “asserted veridical representation,” or in John Grierson’s famous depiction of documentary as “a creative treatment of actuality.” Such characterizations install the most adamants relations film has with the highly charged philosophical concepts of truth, reality and the real. These relations are at the heart of the documentary practice, and are essential to any working definition of documentary cinema. 

Indeed, how do we think of the notion of documentary and of specific documentary films in philosophical terms? how do documentaries deal with philosophical issues? A recently published anthology edited by David LaRocca titled The Philosophy of Documentary Film: Image, Sound, Fiction, Truth (2016) testifies to the ever-growing connections, both scholarly and in practice, between the two disciplines. Prominent filmmakers such as Errol Morris, Terrence Malick (in his 2016 IMAX documentary Voyage of Time) as well as films like What the Bleep Do We Know? and Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? are exploring philosophical, theological, scientific and abstract questions in a unique and unprecedented way. 

Thus, such an engagement is especially timely and topical because of the pressing need to reconfigure the philosophical outputs of documentary’s new horizons as a developing practice. Characterized by unprecedented theatrical success and accelerated aesthetic evolution, documentaries today have been breaking new grounds, entertaining arguments based on uncertainties and incompleteness by prioritizing elements of subjectivity, fiction, and drama. In this second film-philosophy conference—devoted to the entangled relations between documentary and philosophy—we wish to consider the significant makeover that documentary studies has gone through lately to fit these changes, and further explore the significant place that philosophy may hold within contemporary documentary studies. 

Considering how fiction and fact have been recently intertwined in non-fiction subgenres (e.g., the mockumentary, the drama-documentary or the ‘hybrid film’), it becomes essential to redefine what we now mean when we say “documentary films”, and to assess the nature of their truth claims. Following its recent spread into new virtual and social platforms and increased venture into the realm of television, philosophizing about documentary must invite us to rethink what defines it as a practice, a genre, a medium or a filmic strategy, and how this definition is always dynamic. When subjective authorial voices are assertively flaunted in video diaries, essay-films and performative documentaries, a new set of philosophical questions that relate to performance, ethics and authorship is in need of reconsideration. 

The conference will also coincide with the 20th installment of DocAviv, the Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival, which will take place between 17-26 on May 2018. 

DocAviv has carefully carved its niche today as one of the leading documentary festivals worldwide, and it is the only festival in Israel dedicated in its entirety to documentary films. We are excited to participate with DocAviv next year and happy that our conference attendees will also be able to enjoy such an important celebration of documentary cinema. 

We aim to bring together in our conference leading and emerging scholars and filmmakers to investigate together such issues and enhance ongoing dialogues both within documentary studies and philosophy individually and also between these discourses. We welcome a range of papers that might be conceptual, theoretical or practice-as-research in orientation. 

We are interested in papers, for example, in the following broad areas: 

1. New takes on the ontology of the cinematic image in the digital age. 

2. Video essays and philosophizing about film through film. 

3. The meeting between philosophy and poetry in documentary films in general and essay films in particular. 

4. Documentary in the age of film-philosophy: specific films (analysis and theory) and filmmakers (documentarians). 

5. Documentary, theory and/v.s. praxis. 

6. The real and reality through philosophy (Cavell, Plato, etc.). 

7. Documentary and epistemology. 

8. Documentary-as-objective (Noël Carroll) vs. the dismissal of such an approach (Brian Winston). 

9. Ethical issues in the age of crowd-sourced and social networks documentaries. 

10. Documentaries on philosophy and philosophers. 

11. Imposters and frauds: the status of documentary truth in the 21st century. 

12. Theological debates dealing with religious subjects and faith in documentary. 

13. Philosophical provocations on the elusive fiction/non-fiction divide. 

14. Philosophical inquiries into fraud and deception in mockumentaries. 

15. Phenomenology and documentary (e.g., cinema verite, experiential documentary). 

16. The philosophical premises and goals of ethnography in documentary cinema. 



Please send an abstract (up to 300 words in length, including the research objectives, theoretical framework and methodology) and a brief biography (100 words maximum), by December 15th, 2017 to Each proposal must include title, name(s), affiliation, institutional address and email addresses of the author(s). Notification of acceptance/rejection of abstracts will be sent by February 1st, 2018. 

Travel and accommodation costs will be covered by participants. 

For further enquiries, please contact the organizers directly: Dr. Ohad Landesman (; Dr. Shai Biderman (; or Dr. Shmulik Duvdevani ( 

The Sublime - CFP and book announcement

Dear members,

Please find below a CFP an collection on the cinematic sublime, edited by Nathan Carroll. I wanted to take this opportunity as well to mention that Temenuga Trifonova's new book, Contemporary Visual Culture and the Sublime, has also just been released by Routledge, and should be of interest to film philosophy scholars!

Wishing everyone a great September,




‘Negative Pleasures: The Cinematic Sublime’

This is a call for abstracts to contribute to an edited reader about sublimity in film. ‘Negative Pleasures’ aims to reconsider sublime aesthetics as a useful critical tool in Film Studies research. While the dramatic impact of the sublime has been somewhat flattened in critical meaning due to general overuse, this reader aims to engage and revitalize specific aesthetic theories of the sublime in relation to case studies in cinema. Since most philosophers’ theories of the sublime differ significantly in both content and approach from Longinus through postmodern theory, (including moving from a condition of the object to a symptom of the spectator and linguistic system), submitted abstracts should be clear about which philosophical theory of the sublime is being referenced and its value to their project. The larger goal is to further bridge Philosophy and Film Studies.
This reader is conceptually organized into historical categories of sublime with a proposed total, including my own submission, of 12 chapters at 20 pages each. I am looking to cover a wide range of philosophers of the sublime: from Longinus through Addison, Burke, gothic writers, Schopenhauer through Nietzsche, the Freudian uncanny, Post-Structuralists and Postmodernists. I am interested in all film topics.
My own submission relates to digital one-shot films and the Kantian sublime. I am a tenured Associate Film Studies professor with a graduate background in Philosophy focused on sublime aesthetics; I also teach a course on this topic.

A publishing contract for this reader has been signed with Intellect Press (UK). The deadline for abstract submissions is November 1, 2017. Accepted submissions will be due June 1. The intended publishing date is fall 2019 pending peer reviews of the final manuscript. All content must be original to this reader.

Some example ideas for possible subjects include:
The Grand Tour (Addison, Dennis, Ashley-Cooper) and the mountain films of Leni Riefenstahl
The Twin Peaks cycle and the Freudian uncanny/doppelgangers
Edmund Burke and body horror cinema
Longinus and Daniel-Day Lewis: sublime monologues
Schopenhauer and The Red Shoes
Daphne du Maurier adaptations and the Romantic gothic sublime
Bill Morrison and Guy Maddin’s decayed cinema: the sublime archive (Derrida, Foucault)
Kristevian abjection in Cindy Sherman’s Office Killer
Lyotard’s postmodern sublime and Mathew Barney’s films (presenting the unpresentable)

Abstracts should be no more than 300 words. Please include a title and a brief bio. Please submit abstracts to Nathan Carroll ( by November 1, 2017.

CFP: Philosophy and New Media

Dear members, 

Please find below a Film Philosophy Relevant CFP for a special issue of Cinephile. As the editors describe the journal, "Cinephile is the University of British Columbia’s film journal, published with the continued support of the Centre for Cinema Studies. Previous issues have featured original essays by such noted scholars as Lee Edelman, Slavoj Žižek, Paul Wells, Murray Pomerance, Ivone Marguiles, Matt Hills, Barry Keith Grant, K.J. Donnelly, and Sarah Kozloff. Since 2009, the journal has adopted a blind review process and has moved to annual publication. It is available both online and in print via subscription and selected retailers."

Please feel free to forward the CFP!


Cinephile 12.1, Philosophy and New Media

Deadline for draft submissions: September 5th, 2017

Over the past two decades, new media forms have proliferated and become ubiquitous. Similarly, since the mid-1990s, philosophy has asserted its importance and growing relevance to contemporary media studies, in particular with the growth of Film-Philosophy’s journal and conference. Since the intersection between these fields continues to fascinate and inspire debate, philosophical and theoretical discourse must continue to be updated and re-contextualised to account for new ways that digital media is experienced and produced.

In Cinephile 12.1, our contributions to this project will involve pairing philosophy with new media in an attempt to enrich conversations about each. As such, we invite papers that discuss new media (video games, web shows and comics, social media platforms, podcasts, digital art, installations, etc.) or film and television (especially in relation to aspects of digitality or interactivity) in conjunction with philosophical thought. We especially encourage submissions that explore practical “lived” philosophies and global philosophies. Special preference will be given to papers discussing visual media.

Sample questions may include (but are not limited to):

  • Can we read attitudes that are symptomatic or characteristic of new media (texts) as reflecting or enacting a changed way of being in the world?

  • Netflix, YouTube, and Rabbit are all influential but drastically different new media platforms. How can a specific philosophy or philosopher illuminate a new approach to apparatus theory that furthers our understanding of one or all of these platforms?

  • Are new media texts only capable of illustrating philosophical claims or can they philosophize on their own?

  • Are there ethical dilemmas specific to new media?

  • Is there a particular philosopher or philosophy that allows us to understand a new media text in a new way? Does this text enact or embody that philosophy? Does it critique or update it?

  • From the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to #BlackLivesMatter, new media platforms have become essential to a wide range of activism. How can philosophy clarify the manner in which new media platforms have been utilized for social activism?

  • Does a new media text present a changed view towards modernity, religion, or structures of power? Can this change be understood in relation to the evolution of philosophical thought?

  • Does a new media text propose a new ontology of cinema/media? Does it reveal a changed view on the nature of reality?

We encourage submissions from graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty. Papers should be between 2,000-3,500 words, follow MLA guidelines, and include a detailed works cited page, as well as a short biography of the author. Submissions should be directed toward and general inquiries toward Submissions are due by September 5th, 2017.

Incoming editors: Morgan Harper and Zoë Laks

Film Philosophy Books and Other Announcements

Dear all,

Please find below a listing of books, either just released or about to be released, that will no doubt hold interest for Film Philosophy scholars.

Please note as well that SCMS's call for conference papers will arrive in three short months! If you are interested in organizing a panel with other members, please email our secretary either via this website's contact form or through our SCMS SIG page.

Hven, Steffen. Cinema and Narrative Complexity: Embodying the Fabula (2017)

Casetti, Francesco, Silvio Alovisio, and Luca Mazzei, eds. Early Film Theories in Italy 1896-1922: The Little Magic Machine (2017)

Pollmann, Inga. Cinematic Vitalism: Film Theory and the Question of Life (2017)

LaRocca, David, ed. The Philosophy of Documentary Film (2016)

I would love to ask those on this list as well to consider taking a moment to forward the details of this website along to any interested colleagues or students, and asking them to consider signing up for the list serve. We are very hopeful to keep building this community!

Thank you, and I hope everyone is having a lovely spring!



Two Film Philosophy Relevant CFPs

Dear all,

Please find here the announcement for two film philosophy relevant CFPs, one of which has a quickly approaching deadline. 

The first call:

La Filosofia, il Castello e la Torre - Ischia International Festival of Philosophy and Summer School of Humanities 2017

3rd Edition: Values – Continuity and Change23rd September – 1st October 2017. Abstracts due May 1st, 2017.

Full call here:

The second call:

The 2017 World Picture Conference, Nov 10-11, 2017, University of Toronto. Abstracts due July 1st, 2017. 

Full Call here:

For those on the SCMS list, apologies for the cross-posting as we continue to build up the mailing list here.

Happy Spring everyone!

Kate Rennebohm

Toronto Post-Secular Cinema Event & Write-up

An announcement for anyone in the Toronto area or for those generally interested in the topic of postsecular cinema!

Opening Frames: Cinema and Transcendence, April 3-4, 20117, Toronto, Canada

Two-day event at Toronto International Film Festival’s Lightbox on postsecular cinema, featuring Legendary director and screenwriter Paul Schrader as keynote speaker. Film philosophy speakers include John Caruana, Mark Cauchi, Joe Kickasola, and Catherine Wheatley. Globe and Mail article about the event here

Welcome + Two Announcements

Hello all, and welcome to the Film & Media Philosophies Website!

To get us rolling with an introductory post, two announcements:

The twelfth issue of World Picture, a journal broaching questions of film, media, and philosophy, is available now. Guest edited by Luis Recoder, the theme of the issue is "Orthodox."

Registration is also open now for the Spiral Film and Philosophy conference, to be held in Toronto, May 12-12, 2017. The keynote speaker will be Eugenie Brinkema.

Please feel free to use the submissions portal to let us know about other announcements, or to suggest additions for our bibliographies.


Kate Rennebohm.