Screen Studies

The interest group convenor for Screen Studies is Francois Smit. If you would like to learn more about this interest group, or get involved in its activities you can contact him at   

New NEWS for FILM interest group!

SACOMM Film Interest Group – 2016 Kick-off Event: Johannesburg

The film, “Die Ontwaking” will be screened on the 18.02.2016 – at ATLAS Studios at 13:30. (Release date for this film is  26.02.2016.

We would like to invite you to join the ensuing discussion regarding Audience Development.

On the Podium: Helen Kuun, founder of Indigenous Films  (Previously at Ster Kinekor and Primendia) and, Gina Bonmarriage, AFDA JHB Post Graduate Course Director (Previously NFVF & Primedia)

Die Ontwaking:

Facebook Event:

Indigenous Films:

When: Thursday, 18 February, 2016 – 13:30

Where: Atlas Studios, Cnr. Owl & Frost Avenue, Auckland Park, Johannesburg

There will be no entrance fee. Please RSVP over the Facebook event page. 

Sundowners afterwards – an informal get together, in 44 Stanley’s Beer Garden – around the coroner (behind AVBOB).

We look forward to seeing you there!



Prof Keyan Tomaselli on Of Good Report

Download the document below to view some comments by Prof Keyan Tomaselli, Director of The Centre for Communication, Media and Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal 21 July 2013, on the film Of Good Report (2013), which is the first film to be banned since 1994, the year that South Africa was liberated from apartheid.

23 July Of Good_Report K Tomaselli

CFP: Africa and the Moving Image

Arts Council of the African Studies Association 16th Triennial Symposium on African Art, March 19 – 22, 2014 Newark, NJ and New York, NY


By September 1: Send 500-word abstract and brief bio to


This panel seeks to frame an African history of the moving image dating from multiple origins to the present. Acknowledging substantial overlaps between art history and film studies, art practice and filmmaking, we will seek to trace the significant ways ethnographers, scientists, filmmakers, artists, and new media practitioners have constructed and imagined Africa through a long history of technologies, including but not limited to: magic lantern, nineteenth-century optical toys, cinema, and contemporary film and video installation. Papers considering the history of photography and the moving image are also welcome.

Critical methodologies from a range of academic disciplines and art practices have demonstrated that Africa cannot be treated in isolation or as a unified subject. This open panel is broad by design to suggest the multiple origins, geographies, and practices comprising an African history of the moving image, while also holding in unresolved tension the subject’s complexity and global contexts. Equally valid case studies might include Ousmane Sembène’s classic short film Barom Sarret (1964), or Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s Where is Where? (2009), a six-screen film installation about the Algerian War for Independence, Frantz Fanon’s 1961 text The Wretched of the Earth, and contemporary Finland. Comparative case studies are encouraged.

Contributors are invited to address questions of form alongside questions of history and theory. What formal techniques have artists and filmmakers developed to portray Africa in moving images, and to what ends? What theoretical tools, among them psychoanalytic theories of projection and postcolonial theories of subjectivity and representation, are required to narrate a history of Africa and the moving image, and what tools still need to be articulated?

Additional topics for consideration include current issues in African cinema and their contributions to our understanding of moving images; contemporary artworks that use old or “dead” moving image technologies in new ways, as in the work of William Kentridge; and analysis of cinematic ways of seeing, as when French novelist André Gide wrote that “all things passed cinematographically before my eyes” during his travels through Central Africa in 1925-26. As these examples indicate, this panel hopes to be transdisciplinary and trans-historical by inviting artists, filmmakers, curators, art and film historians, and historians of science to offer perspectives on Africa and the moving image.

Amy Powell, PhD, University of Houston


Recent Research Conference on Filmmaker Education

 In May film educators from across the world participated in a research project called The Education of the Filmmaker:  Views from Around the World at the Lingnan University in Hong Kong.  Ben Goldsmith of the Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, summarised some themes arising from the conference around the following sets (terms should be seen as spectra, not always dichotomies).

–           Craft and creativity;  or training for creative expression and auteurship vs training for skills for the film and TV industry.  Many of the institutions regard auteurs and their creative expressions as their central objective, while others tend towards a focus on their students’ future career success.  The representatives from Africa  (Ambrose Alli University in Edo State, Nigeria  and AFDA in South Africa) see their curricula and research as committed to  nation-building and socioeconomic development, and stimulating the local entertainment industries.  This is influenced by the countries’ film industries, for instance in a country where most of the production budget comes from state funding, audience response plays a smaller role, than in film industries with less state support.  In countries with strong state support for film budgets, auteurship training often gets more focus than craft skills training.

–         General or specific:  Do students specialise in a discipline, or are they trained in a well-rounded approach.  This is influenced a lot by the previous point, and the film school’s understanding of industry’s requirements from graduates.

–          Traditional or modern; local or global. Yoshiharu Tezuka from Komazawa University in Tokyo, for instance, reported on his research on curriculating around a tradition of great Japanese filmmakers and aesthetic traditions.  In South African student films we also see interesting tensions, e.g. on urbanisation or generation gaps.

–          Practice and theory.  In interesting debate many professors were concerned with ahistoricity on the side of “the youth of today” – a lack of interest in film history  and theory.  The role of digital cameras in stimulating a new preference for long takes was discussed, while some felt the lingering shots seen more and more can be ascribed to students’ philosophical grappling with time and existence.  And others thought it results from an increased focus on the daily document stimulated by social media.  George Yudice of the University of Miami called it a dialectic between post-historicity and obsessional documentation.

–          Accountability and academic freedom; state or private.  Mette Hjort, editor of the research project, pointed out that we can learn a lot by asking to whom a film department or film school is accountable.  Yomi Braester’s research about the Chinese film education system is an example – there is a mainstream (Beijing Film Academy with state support), and then there are small unaccredited film schools like Fanhall with interesting work in the margins.  Toby Miller of the University of California launched a scathing attack on the most prestigious 3 USA film schools, lamenting that too many of their graduates work as waiters or in the porn industry, that violent and misogynist themes are rife in these film schools,  and that their tuition fees are disproportionately high.


Other events in Film and Film Scholarship:

DIFF is coming up 19 – 29 July:  The Durban International Film Festival and Talent Campus – see

The Reagile Project and Film Cities Research project continues – see

Good film selection at Grahamstown National Arts Festival:  More info at and

Encounters  – the big international documentary film festival – was full of exciting learning opportunities :

The SA Film and Television Awards winners and some bloggers’ comment on the event in March can be seen at

Cara and Cilect:


Any film schools or scholars interested in joining in the 2013 Cara events can contact

The Cilect African Regional Chapter (Cara) was very positive after its meetings in early May in Cape Town.  Cara full members and other interested parties present were Tshwane University of Technology, Big Fish, Open Window, AFDA, UKZN’s CCMS and City Varsity from South Africa,  CFPA from Cameroon, HIC from Egypt, NAFTI from Ghana, ISMA from Benin.

The Cara research conference was praised by Cilect Executive for the quality of its presentations.

Interesting trends from the research presented include good ideas to balance film students’ creative freedom with the professional skills needed for future employment in film industries; interinsitutional research projects like the Film Cities project of Prof Tomaselli (above) and exchange projects; and grappling with culture and transition, for instance adding more Liberal Arts content to the Ghana core curriculum, and in the ways Egyptian students grapple with national identity as they undergo transition.

The Cilect conference hosted in Cape Town was a big success – see for photos and good summaries of keynote speakers, including Mathole Serofo Motshekga on ubuntu – the theme of the conference, focusing on collaboration between film educators.



SACOMM Members and all film lecturers are invited to attend the annual congress of CILECT, the international body of accredited film schools, in Cape Town.
This is a good opportunity for Film Interest Groupers to get together.
Many of you have already submitted good abstracts and will present papers on CARA – thanks.

Register at
–          The African chapter of CILECT (CARA) will host presentations on 30 April 2012.
–          The international  part of the conference, with all 5 the CILECT regions represented, runs 1 – 5 May 2012.  There will be 8 participatory workshops over 2 days on collaboration exercises in filmmaking and film education.

The theme is Ubuntu, with a focus on sharing and rigorous discourse on collaborative learning in film schools and other tertiary institutions which offer film studies. This is appropriate as new (and old) technologies in filmmaking require interdisciplinary collaboration.

See for more on the philosophy of the CILECT 2012 congress.

         Venue:  Southern Sun Hotel in Cape Town; and some cross-town junkets.
         Cultural activities and heavy-weight keynote speakers on Ubuntu.
         Contact or tel (021) 4487600