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“Sites of Cinema” takes a new approach to the question of cinema at the moment when cinema is said to be in decline, even in some accounts said to be facing its “death.” At this moment, when are focused on a convergence of moving image forms into a single delivery system we take up divergence over convergence, a divergence. Alternative to André Bazin’s question “What is Cinema?” “Sites of Cinema” will ask “Where is Cinema?” Where has it been seen to be and where will it be spaced in the future—as theoretical construct, national culture, material object, artistic work, social practice and space of exhibition. Cinema has moved and is still moving—from theatrical stages to museum walls, in and on buildings as well as within historical nations and regions of the world. “Sites of Cinema” signals our interest in site-specific cinemas plural but also cinema as a total apparatus—the “cinema of the mind” for the mass audience.

Racquel Gates

Jane Gaines

Max Gaan

Meeting Schedule

09/15/2023 511 Dodge Hall, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Panel: “New Paths to Preserving Japanese Cinema”: A Discussion of Kyoto’s Toy Film Museum & The Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945) (dir. Yoneo Ota, 2023)
Yoneo Ota, Toy Film Museum, Kyoto, Japan

Joanne Bernardi, University of Rochester

10/26/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Heels on Concrete: New York's Black Women Film Critics and the Sublation of Classical Hollywood Cinema
Ellen Scott, UCLA

Respondent: Racquel Gates, Columbia University

11/09/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Circulation Worries
Kaveh Askari, Michigan State University


The systems that relayed cinema through neighboring regions into Iran after the Second World War did more than simply transmit feature films as capsules from abroad. They reorganized the sites and conditions of cinema’s creative labor. As circulation of second-hand prints accelerated in the 1950s, their afterlives needed to be managed and engineered. What were the structures of the business transactions and the definitions of intellectual property that made it possible for films to move in the way they did? What kinds of technical maintenance reworked these objects in transit?

This presentation offers a conception of circulation worries as a way to trace these questions through archives of film distributors, lawyers, accountants, and technicians. Worry was material before it was emotional. The archaic meanings of the term describe a process wear and tear, either rapid and violent or protracted and subtle. To worry an object is to disintegrate it, as a pet worries a chew toy. The term is also used to describe persistence through difficult work or challenging travel. Both of these material definitions highlight the driving factors of a materially focused cultural history of cinema in transit: the fragility and the endurance of films. Film prints are worried in an instant by sprocket teeth, but they also worry along through formal and informal distribution networks. There is something in the sense of worry as an expression of care, as a feeling associated with sustaining rather than dominating or disrupting, that unites these archival traces of connection and frustration with a fragile medium.

Respondent: Farbod Honarpisheh, Yale University

12/07/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
We Protest!: Women-Directors in Contemporary Russian Documentary Cinema
Anzhelika Artyukh, St. Petersburg University of Cinema and Television


An examination of recent Russian documentaries created by women directors. These “partisan films” highlight the image of a protesting people and contain feminist protest against the authoritarian power of Putin’s regime, the calcified hierarchy of state institutions, familial patriarchal stereotypes or various forms of violence. Films by Taisiya Krugovykh, Daria Khrenova and Gluklya fall into the category of participatory political documentary cinema which combines a democratic vanguard, contemporary art and elements of different documentary genres and draws the director into interactive relations with participants and events. New technology and new platforms allow them more flexibility and help to erode the division between documentary makers and the artists they film. Without screening licenses, these films (Pussy Versus Putin, Putin Versus Pussy, “Pavlensky: Life Naked”, “1 st May: 2017-2019) cannot be shown in Russia legally.

Respondent: Rossen Djagalov, New York University

Respondent: Tatiana Efremova, Columbia University

01/25/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM

02/15/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM


03/07/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
Miriam Petty “Settle For My Love: Tyler Perry’s Traumatic Romantic Aesthetic
Miriam Petty, Northwestern University

Respondent: Danielle Dougé, Barnard College

04/12/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM