Sapientia University, Department of Film, Photography and Media
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Cultural Traumas in Contemporary European Small National Cinemas

Young Independent Teams/Tinere Echipe research project, supported by a grant of the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitization, CNCS – UEFISCDI, Romania. Project number PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2021-0613, within PNCDI III. 5 May 2022 - 4 May 2024.

Presentation

Abstract of the project: The comparative analysis of European small national cinemas within the context of collectively and culturally traumatic events in recent European history is still a relatively uncharted territory. While cinematic representations’ powers of mediating collective and cultural traumas has been a fruitful research field in trauma and memory studies, and European small national cinemas also elicit constant attention, the combination of these two perspectives within a systematic comparative framework may be categorized a novel approach. The urgency of such a conception and a corresponding research project – especially with reference to the dissolution of the „strong, caring” communist or welfare state – may be easily seen: the creators, films and audiences still share common memories of this latest collective trauma that they’ve transformed into a culturally mediated one. Referring to the critically most acclaimed, and the domestically most popular Romanian, Hungarian, Danish, Swedish, Irish and Scottish films of the 1990-2020 period, and using a combined qualitative-quantitative methodology of production studies, textual-formal analysis and reception studies, the target is a 21st century overview of the contemporary film history of European small national cinemas and their best creative practices that enable them to co-exist with better funded and more influential major national or global-reach cinemas while processing collective traumas into cultural ones.

Objectives of the project: his project proposes to devise a combined methodology for charting the common creative methods that several European small national cinemas have devised – not independently of the employment of film genre panels – while working through successive collective and cultural traumas in the recent past. The loose timeframe of the research corpus is set by the two major collective traumas that may be linked to a contemporary European film historical context: the 1989-1990 dismantling of the Eastern Bloc and the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, two such experiences that are closely related to various stages of digitalization within the film industry too. We propose to comparatively examine the six small national cinemas – Romanian cinema, Hungarian cinema (standing for the Eastern European canon), Danish and Swedish cinemas (as representatives of the Northern European film canon), and Irish and Scottish cinema that index the Western European film canon – and the related cinematic trends – the Romanian New Wave/New Romanian Cinema (NRC), New Hungarian Cinema (NHC), Danish Dogma (DD) and the New Scottish Cinema (NSC) - as mediated articulations of collective cultural traumas, with a well circumscribed methodology. The 24-month group research is modelled on Shannon and Weaver’s classical communication model, as we are firmly convinced that in order to understand the extraordinary emergence and long-term effect of the posttraumatic cultural articulations that the RNW, the NHC, DD and NSC are, one needs to analyse the sender (in this specific case: the film industry and the production context of specific sample films), the message (the structure and poetic functioning of the specific sample films within the context of the cinematic trends that articulate the collective cultural traumas), and the receiver (in this case: the distribution and reception of the specific sample films, in professional and non-professional contexts too), in order to convincingly demonstrate their power of articulating culturally and medially the researched cultural traumas, among them the safe and caring state’s (abrupt) ending.

Members of the project:

 

  • Andrea Virginás - project director, principal investigator
  • Mihály Lakatos - PhD researcher
  • Boglárka Angéla Farkas - PhD researcher
  • Ábel Kovács - MA researcher

 


Preliminary results

1) Participation in international conferences

1. Andrea Virginás: Cultural Memorywork and Small National Cinemas: Some Directions of Analysis. Colloquium of the Janovics Centre for Screen and Performing Arts, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, 05. 05. 2022, Invited speaker.

2. Andrea Virginás: A közösségi traumatizáltság játékfilmes feldolgozásai a kortárs európai filmben: a mediatizált kulturális emlékezet egy lehetséges modellje [Procesarea traumelor colective în filmul european contemporan: un posibil model al memoriei culturale mediatizate], 25 de ani de Burse de Cercetare Bolyai, Kolozsvári Akadémiai Bizottság/Comitetul Academic din Cluj-Napoca și Academia Maghiară de Științe (MTA), Cluj-Napoca, 13. 05. 2022, Invited speaker.

3. Andrea Virginás: The Epistemic Potential of Media Technologies in the Context of Film Narration: Freezing the Past in Analogue Photography and Revitalizing It on the Laptop? Part of the pre-constituted panel The Epistemic Potential of (Un)Foreseeable: Eastern European Cinemas and Cultural Memory-Work Practices II. Epistemic Media: Atlas, Archive, Network, The NECS European Network of Cinema and Media Studies 2022 Conference, UNATC, Politehnica, Bucharest, 22.-26. 06. 2022.

4. Mihály Lakatos: Pop Music Televised: Ethnic Minority Music through State-Controlled Television in Communist Romania. Part of the panel Media in the Eastern Bloc. Epistemic Media: Atlas, Archive, Network, The NECS European Network of Cinema and Media Studies 2022 Conference, UNATC, Bucharest, 22-26 06., 2022.

5. Boglárka Angéla Farkas: Pandora’s Box Revisited: “Ex Machina” in the Context of Greek Mythology. Part of the panel Dystopia and Anxiety in the Digital Age. Epistemic Media: Atlas, Archive, Network, The NECS European Network of Cinema and Media Studies 2022 Conference, UNATC, Bucharest, 22-26 06., 2022 (affiliated colleague).

6. Andrea Virginás: Formalism and Memory-work in Filmic Narration: Looking Beyond Language? The Uses of Form: Theory, Methodology, Pedagogy. Northumbria Univ., Cologne Univ, and The British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies, 22/23 July 2022, online.

7. Andrea Virginás: ‘Corrupting’ the Past through Mediation: Degraded, De-framed, Frozen Shared Memories in Film Narration. 27th Congress of SERCIA, La Corruption au Cinema/Corruption at Cinema, Institut D’Auvergne du Développment des Territoires (IADT), Clermont-Ferrand, France, 7-9 Septembe 2022 (online presentation).

8. Andrea Virginás: Precarity in European Small National Cinemas: Is There An East-West Divide? 2022 Annual (Virtual) Convention of ASEEES - The Association for Slavic, East-European and Eurasian Studies, University of Chicago, 12-14 October 2022.

9. Andrea Virginás: Low-Budget Filmic Dystopias – or Anthropocene Deregulations in European Small National Filmic Narratives. The View From the Anthropocene – The Hungarian Society for the Study of English, HUSSE, Debrecen University, Hungary, 15-16 October 2022.

10. Mihály Lakatos: Nature as an Affective Background in Postmillennial Romanian Music Videos. The View From the Anthropocene – The Hungarian Society for the Study of English, HUSSE, Debrecen University, Hungary, 15-16 October 2022.

11. Boglárka Angéla Farkas: Pandora’s Box Revisited: Ex Machina In the Context of Greek Mythology and Posthuman Anxieties. The View From the Anthropocene – The Hungarian Society for the Study of English, HUSSE, Debrecen University, Hungary, 15-16 October 2022.

12. Ábel Kovács: Human/Animal Co-Existence in Two Small National Feature FilmsThe View from the Anthropocene – The Hungarian Society for the Study of English, HUSSE, Debrecen University, Hungary, 15-16 October 2022.

2) Publications

1. Andrea Virginás: Polaroids from Our Past: Lucian’s Pintilie’s Balanța/The Oak (1992). In Intermedial Encounters / Intermediális találkozások. Ed. Blos-Jáni Melinda, Pieldner Judit, Király Hajnal, Sándor Katalin, Lakatos Mihály. Cluj-Napoca: Scientia PH, 2022, 237-242 (CNCS B).

2. Mihály Lakatos: Godard’s Personal (Film) History through an iPhone Screen. In Intermedial Encounters / Intermediális találkozások. Ed. Blos-Jáni Melinda, Pieldner Judit, Király Hajnal, Sándor Katalin, Lakatos Mihály. Cluj-Napoca: Scientia PH, 2022, 407-414 (CNCS B).

3. Boglárka Angéla Farkas: A kisebbségi identitás alakzatai Fischer István portréfilmjeiben [Forms of Minority Identity in István Fischer’s Portrait Documentaries]. ME. DOK: Media, Istorie, Comunicare, UBB Cluj-Napoca, 2022/3. 53-67 (CNCS C).

3) Monthly blog-posts of the project on our WordPress blog

1. May 2022 blog post: Cultural Traumas in European Small National Cinemas

2. June 2022 blog post: The 2022 NECS conference

3. July 2022 blog post: The First Group Panel Proposal

4. August 2022 blog post: Reflections on R.M.N. – The Individual and the Collective

5. September 2022 blog post: Michael Collins (1996) – Glory and Trauma Surrounding the Hero of the Irish War of Independence

6. October 2022 blog post: Public Discussions About the Processing of Cultural Traumas

7. November 2022 blog post: Resuscitating Collective Trauma Through the Eyes of a Child – Belfast (2021)

4) Other activities

Two workshops on the subject of the project were part of the Tudományköz / Between Scientific Disciplines program, at the Social Sciences section of the Cluj-Napoca Academic Committee (KAB) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA). Project director Andrea Virginás organized and moderated these 1-hour public discussions, with the title Kollektív traumák, kulturális feldolgozás: narratívák, médiumok, toposzok 1-2 / Collective traumas, cultural processing: narratives, mediums, topos 1-2. Invited speakers: dr. Beja Margitházi (Dept. of Film Studies, ELTE University, Budapest), dr. Mária Szikszai (Dept. of Hungarian Ethnography and Anthropology, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca), dr. Júlia Vallasek (Dept. of Journalism, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca).

The recordings of the discussions:

The first part (September 18) can be watched here:

The scond part (October 31) can be watched here:


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