Research in Film and History: New Approaches, Debates and Projects

November 28th - 30th 2018, Bremen

The interpretation of political and contemporary historical events is and will increasingly continue to be carried out via audio-visual media. The same goes for the production of historical memory. Media communicates and at times even creates historical knowledge while film shapes our notion and comprehension of history. Furthermore, film not only showcases historical themes or sheds light on the biographies of historical figures, but also conveys historical understanding and consensus in audio-visual form. In this way, film shapes our images of the world and influences our perception. It also increasingly competes with and adds to established historiography.

The Bremen Conference will explore new approaches, debates and projects between the disciplines of film studies and history. It also supports the exchange of views between scientists from Germany, Estonia, France, Great Britain, Mexico, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, who belong to the field of film and media studies as well as historical studies. However, adjacent subject areas from cultural studies are also included.

The event will be initiated with a discussion with Thomas Elsaesser, who will present his documentary DIE SONNENINSEL (2017) for discussion. In her keynote Erica Carter will connect film distribution in the scattered territories of the late British Empire with a historically embedded version of Rancière’s notion of the distribution of sensibility. The panels will include topics such as the historical dimensions of film archives and the collection of films, questions on the relationship between film aesthetics and trauma, the archeology of audiovisual icons, perspectives of curating, reception and participation, as well as the visualization of the Holocaust based on Liberation Footage. In addition, the panels provide a forum for current research projects on multimedia installations, collaborative and interactive research, and aesthetics of documentary.

The aim of the Bremen conference is to relate the different theoretical and methodological approaches to film and history, to discuss and to sharpen terms and categories. The Bremen conference seeks to explore a point of intersection between the disciplines of film studies and history, paying particular attention to new approaches in this interdisciplinary field, focusing on debates about film`s ability to produce history and historical knowledge visually and audibly, and to create historical memory.

For both disciplines, we expect a productive methodological and epistemological exchange, which will be further deepened by the founding of the English-language open access journal “Research in Film and History”.

The conference is organized by Rasmus Greiner, Winfried Pauleit, Delia González de Reufels and Mara Josepha Fritzsche from the ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, University of Bremen  

Registration for non-presenting participants is open until October 30, 2018. Please register with an e-mail to film-history[at], providing your full name, your affiliation and postal address as well as your status. The conference is free, not including lunch and dinner. The registration is only valid with a written confirmation by the conference team.

Participants can book hotel rooms for special conference rates at the Hotel Star Inn Bremen (code: "ZeMKI") by the end of October 2018.

Bremen, 28th - 30th November 2018

The Bremen Conference seeks to explore a point of intersection between the disciplines of film studies and history, paying particular attention to new approaches to this interdisciplinary field.

28th November
(City 46 / Kommunalkino Bremen)

08:00 pm Opening and Screening: The Sun Island (GER 2017)

09:30 pm Discussion with Prof. Dr. Thomas Elsaesser (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands / Columbia University School of Arts, USA)

29th November
(Star Inn Hotel, Bremen)

09:00 am Panel 1: Archives and Archiving

Dr. Judith Bihr (Curator, ZKM / Centre for Media and Art, Karlsruhe, Germany):
The Archive as Artistic Practice in Experimental Films from the Middle East

Dr. María Rosa Gudiño (Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, México):
Public Health, Memory and Culture. The richness of a Film Archive. Mexico, 1950-1960

Liis Jõhvik M.A. (Tallinn University, Finnland):
Reel Life: Memory and Gender in Soviet Home Movies and Amateur films

11:00 am Panel 2: Trauma and Postwar Aesthetics

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Groß (Universität Jena, Germany):
Staging Community. Italian and German Postwar Cinema aesthetics

Dr. Michael B. Elm (Research fellow FU Berlin, Germany / Tel Aviv University, Israel / Goethe Universität Frankfurt a.M., Germany):
Cinematic Patterns of staging Trauma in Centenary Productions of the Great War

Sergej Gordon M.A. (KU Eichstätt Ingolstadt, Germany):
Screen memories – the unmaking of revolutionary trauma in the Mexican comedia ranchera

12:30 pm Presentation: open access journal “Research in Film and History”
Dr. Rasmus Greiner

02:30 pm Panel 3: Archaeology of Audiovisual Icons

Dipl. Soz. Fabian Schmidt M.A. (Filmuniversität Babelsberg, Germany):
The Westerbork material – Footage or Film?

Prof. Dr. Chris Wahl (Filmuniversität Babelsberg, Germany):
Riefenstahl’s TRIUMPH OF THE WILL (1935) – Versions, Quotations, Recontextualizations

Alexander Zöller M.A. (Filmuniversität Babelsberg, Germany):
The 1942 Warsaw Ghetto Footage – A Cautionary Tale of Contextualization

04:30 pm Panel 4: Projects and new Approaches

Sebastian Köthe M.A. (Research Assistant, Graduiertenkolleg Das Wissen der Künste; Universität der Künste Berlin, Germany):
From Document to Documentary. On Transforming Secret Service CCTV into You Don’t Like The Truth.

Chantal Riekel M.A. (University of the Creative Arts, UK):
Experiencing histories? Visualising personal narratives and history through the Harald Bratt film archive.

06:00 pm Keynote: Prof. Dr. Erica Carter (King’s College London, UK)

08:00 pm Conference Dinner (Edel Weiss Bremen)

30th November
(Star Inn Hotel, Bremen)

9:00 am Panel 5: Curation, Reception, Participation

Dr. Sarah-Mai Dang (Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany):
The audio-visual art of curating: how practices of selecting, structuring, and exhibiting shape our understanding of history

Dr. Julian Hanich (University of Groningen, Netherlands):
The Abruptly Altered Horizon: On a (Not so Rare) Phenomenon in Historical Reception Studies

Marian Petraitis M.A. (Universität Zürich, Switzerland):
Be Part of History Documentary Film and Mass Participation in the Age of YouTube

11:00 am Presentation: EU Horizon 2020 “Liberation Footage and Digital Approaches”

Michael Loebenstein (Director Österreichisches Filmmuseum Wien, Austria):
New approaches to ‘Digital Curation’ between the archive, the museum, and the arts

Dr. Irina Tcherneva (Associate researcher, CERCEC Paris, France):
Establishing the historicity of new visual archives of the Second World War: civilian victims in the Soviet film-makers focus

Dr. Ulrike Weckel (Justus-Liebig-Universität, Gießen, Germany):
Liberated on Film: Images and Narratives of Camp Liberation in Historical Footage and Feature Films

Dr. Ingo Zechner (Head of Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Geschichte und Gesellschaft, Wien, Austria):
Smooth Transitions where there are none. Liberation Footage and the Holocaust

02:30 pm Perspectives: Interactive Film as Research Method

Prof. Dr. Winfried Pauleit (Universität Bremen, Germany), Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels (Universität Bremen, Germany), Dr. Stefano Odorico (Leeds Trinity University), Michael Loebenstein, Dr. Ingo Zechner

Contact: Rasmus Greiner film-history[at]

Download the program here.

Updated by: Maier