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Rethinking Intermediality in Contemporary Cinema: Changing Forms of In-Betweenness

  • Exploratory Research Project - Code: PN-III-ID-PCE-2016-0418
funded by the UEFISCDI (Executive Unit for Financing Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation), 2017- 2019.



The main objective of the research project is to identify some of the major directions in which cinematic intermediality has changed in the digital age determined by the affordances of the new media environment.

The media convergences and fusions characteristic of the so called postmedia age pose a challenge to the idea of productive "in-betweenness" of media that has emerged as one of the core tenets of the theory of intermediality. While the intermedial strategies of modernist cinema brought together the different arts and media in self-reflexive situations of dialogue or confrontation, today we see a two-way process. On the one hand we have the "explosion" of the cinematic medium itself through the multiplied technologies of image production, and there is a whole new range of intermedia relations occurring between traditional cinema and other forms of moving images. On the other hand, the "photographic," "the cinematic" or the "painterly" are no longer attributes of distinct arts, but have become sensations perceived in all kinds of images. Understanding intermediality in contemporary cinema requires its exploration in such a context.
One of the most influential theories addressing the way the digital age has brought about changes in the interrelation of media is centred on the idea of convergence, which emphasises how old and new media come together as parts of the same digital environment and information flow. In contrast, intermediality views media not in a digital "melting pot," but in productive interaction. Keeping in mind that one of the core tenets of the theory of intermediality is that we should always consider the prefix "inter-" indicative of a productive relationship that actively "does," "performs" something, our research proposes to discover areas where intermediality and convergence meet in a productive way: e.g. in which moving images exhibiting media fusions typical for the digital age are capable of conveying sensations of in-betweenness that can be harnessed to yield various effects and purposes.
We propose to unravel some of these complex new relationships of in-betweenness and to map the areas of change.
Based on our previous researches, we propose to initiate the research along 3 main avenues of investigation. A) Inflections of the photo-filmic, the intermedial folds of "tableau-cinema." B) The poetic strategies of merging the real with the intermedial. C) A shift from the in-betweenness of texts versus images/texts as images to situations of theatricality or performance in which there is a pronounced emphasis on speech performed in front of (and often, deliberately for) the camera.

The project attempts to solidify the theory of intermediality as a valid research paradigm within film studies, and to clarify relevant research axes for understanding contemporary intermedial phenomena in cinema. Through our conferences, presentations and publications we also expect to initiate a vivid international dialogue on the main issues proposed by the project.

ESTIMATED RESULTS: Publishing a special issue of the journal Acta Universitatis Sapientiae: Film and Media Studies (indexed in several academic databases, among which ERIH Plus and ESCI Web of Science) on the topic of the research project. Articles published and accepted to be published in academic journals or edited volumes published by internationally acknowledged publishing houses. At least one scientific volume dealing with the topic of the research accepted for publication by an internationally acknowledged publishing house (delivered at the end of the project in electronic manuscript). Presenting the results of the research at international conferences. Organizing three scientific events addressing the topic of the research project: two international conferences and a workshop.

Duration of the program: 12 July 2017- 31 December 2019.


Principal Investigator (PI): ÁGNES PETHŐ, PhD, Professor of Film Studies
Members of the research team:
HAJNAL KIRÁLY, PhD, experienced researcher
JUDIT PIELDNER, PhD, Associate Professor 
ANDREA VIRGINÁS, PhD, Associate Professor
MELINDA BLOS-JÁNI, PhD, Assistant Professor (Post-doc researcher)
ÁGNES BAKK, PhD student


Organization of scientific events (workshops & conferences)

A scientific workshop was organised for the purpose of officially launching the research project and to ensure its visibility through the public debate and presentation of the main issues that we propose to address through our researches on intermediality. See the programme of the two-day workshop here.

The workshop was accompanied by a complex exhibition of photo-video installation, with the title PHOTO-PROCESSING. The exhibition, presenting the works of Zoltán Balla and Emőke Kerekes, was inaugurated on the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage and was curated by Melinda Blos-Jáni with the assistance of Mihály Lakatos. See the poster and description of the exhibition here.

19-20 October 2018. INTERMEDIALITY NOW: REMAPPING IN-BETWEENNESS - the first international conference organized within the framework of the research project. More information can be accessed here. See the poster of the conference call below:

Participation in international conferences

Contact Zones. Transnational Encounters, Dialogues and Self-Representation in Contemporary Eastern European Literature, Cinema and Visual Cultures
, Budapest, Eötvös Loránd University, 28-30 September 2017.

Papers presented at this conference by members of the research team:

  • Ágnes Pethő (keynote lecture): Changing Strategies of In-Betweenness. Intermediality in Contemporary Eastern European Cinema
  • Hajnal Király: The Text of Muteness in Contemporary Hungarian and Romanian Family (Melo)dramas
  • Judit Pieldner: Black-and-White Memories of the Past,Intermediality and Female Identity in Contemporary Polish and Czech Cinema
  • Andrea Virginás: Disruptive Mobilities: Female Characters and Female Filmmakers in an Eastern European Diegetic and/or Industry Framework
  • Melinda Blos-Jáni: Re-Animating Oral Histories Through the Medium of Photography in Eastern European Documentaries

Small Cinemas Conference. Diversity in Glocal Cinemas: Language, Culture, Identity. Universidad del Pais Vasco, Bilbao, Spain, 20-22 September 2017.

Paper presented at this conference:
  • Andrea Virginás: Domestic and/or International Success in Eastern European Small National Cinemas

The Moving Form of Film: Exploring Intermediality as a Historiographic Method, 6-8 November 2017. University of Reading, UK.

Presentation at this conference:

  • Ágnes Pethő  (plenary lecture): The Double Helix of Intermediality

Clash of Realities. International Conference on Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games. organised by TH Cologne, Cologne Game Lab. 6-8 November, Cologne, Germany. Paper presented at this conference:

  • Ágnes Bakk: Narrative Environments Using Game Design Mechanism in Performance Installations & VR (see the poster accompanying the presentation here)

Burgess 100 Budapest, A Symposium Celebrating Burgess's Centenary. 10 November 2017. Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary. Paper presented at this conference (in the panel, 'Intermedial Burgess'):

  • Hajnal Király : Metaphorical Mapping: Figurations of Intermediality in A Clockwork Orange - the Novel and the Film

International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, 14-17 November, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. Paper presented at this conference:

  • Ágnes BakkHow Interactivity Is Changing in Immersive Performances - An Approach to Understanding the Use of Interactive Technologies in Performance Art

The Power of Immersion. Theatre - Affect - Politics, 9-13 April, 2018. Berlin, Freie Universität.
Prezentare orală:

  • Ágnes Bakk: How Deep Is Your Immersion?

Border Crossings, International Conference, 20-21 April 2018, Universitatea Sapientia, Miercurea-Ciuc, Facultatea de Științe Economice, Socio-Umane și Inginerești.

Lucrări prezentate la această conferință în sesiunea intitulată "In-Betweenness, Border Transgressions in Film and Contemporary Art":

  • Judit Pieldner: In-Between the Medial and the Political. Jafar Panahi's (Non-)Cinema
  • Mihály Lakatos: The In-Betweenness of Non-Image, Sound, Place and Science: Ryoji Ikeda's Installation Works
The Great War(s): Our Story. Third International Conference on Balkan Cinema, 8-9 May, 2018. Romanian Academy, Bucharest
  • Blos-Jáni Melinda: Photographic Passages into the Memory of the Second World War.

Copy-Past. Revaluating History, Memory and the Archive in Cinema, Performing Arts and Visual Culture
8-19 May, 2018, organized by Babeș-Bolyai University and "George Oprescu" Art Institute, Cluj-Napoca. Paper presented at this conference:
  • Blos-Jáni Melinda: The Paradox Visibility of Recycled Photographs. Reframing the Past in Eastern European Non-Fiction Films

Post-Truth and the Moving Image: The Twelfth Tel Aviv International Colloquium on Cinema and Television Studies
, Tel Aviv Univerity, Israel, 4-6 June, 2018. The title of paper presented:
  • Virginás Andrea: The Truth as Electronic Residue: on the Role of (Multiple) Screens in Diegetic Worlds.

The NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) Conference: Media Tactics and Engagement
, The Netherlands, 27-29 June 2018. The conference programme can be accessed here.
Two special panels organized by the research team to present and disseminate results of our research project:

The Politics of Intermediality 1. Affective Hypermediacies: Screens, Cameras and Human Interfaces
  • Andrea Virginás: Electronic Screens as Surfaces of (Collective) Trauma in Contemporary European Film
  • Judit Pieldner: The Camera in Home Arrest: Tactics of Non-Cinema in Jafar Panahi's Films
  • Ágnes Karolina Bakk: Total Immersion with Human Interface: Hypermediacies of VR Productions
The Politics of Intermediality 2. Engaging the Picturesque and the Anti-Picturesque
  • Melinda Blos-Jáni: Precarious Aesthetic in Eastern European Nonfiction Films
  • Hajnal Király: Intermedial Iconography as Accent in Contemporary Hungarian and Romanian Cinema
  • Ágnes Pethő: The Politics of the Picturesque: The Photofilmic and the Posthuman

EVA London 2018: Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, 9-13 July. 2018. Title of the paper presented at this conference:

  • Ágnes Karolina Bakk: Analogue and Digital Immersive Experiences. What should Digital Creators Learn from Live Theatre Makers?


Articles in scientific journals indexed in international databases:

  • Andrea Virginás: Gendered Transmediation of the Digital from S1m0ne to Ex Machina: ‘Visual Pleasure' Reloaded? European Journal of English Studies, Volume 21, 2017 - Issue 3: FEMINIST INTERVENTIONS IN INTERMEDIAL STUDIES, 288-303. Indexed in: Web of Science: Social Sciences Citation Index, Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Current Contents: Social and Behavioral Sciences, Current Contents: Arts and Humanities.
  • Judit Pieldner:The Camera in House Arrest. Tactics of Non-Cinema in Jafar Panahi's Films. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae: Film and Media Studies, 2018. Vol. 15. Indexed in: Clarivate Analytics: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), ERIH Plus (European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences), CEEOL, FIAF - International Index to Film Periodicals, NSD, etc. (forthcoming)
  • Hajnal Király:
  • Melinda Blos-Jáni:
  • Andrea Virginás:
  • Ágnes Pethő: AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF INTERMEDIALITY STUDIES (Three interviews with scholars who defined the field), Special Dossier in Acta Universitatis Sapientiae: Film and Media Studies, 2018. Vol. 15.  Indexed in: Clarivate Analytics: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), ERIH Plus (European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences), CEEOL, FIAF - International Index to Film Periodicals, NSD, etc.
  • "A Good Concept Should Be Both Very Concrete and Very Abstract." Interview with Lars Elleström. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae: Film and Media Studies, 2018. Vol. 15. (forthcoming)
  • "The Use of Other Media within Film as a Passage to Material Reality." Interview with Lúcia Nagib. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae: Film and Media Studies, 2018. Vol. 15. (forthcoming)
  • "Film Studies Always Need the Wider Approach of Intermediality." Interview with Joachim Paech. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae: Film and Media Studies, 2018. Vol. 15. (forthcoming)


Studies published in conference proceedings of internațional conferences indexed in scientific databases:

Book chapters in edited volumes published by scientific publishing houses:

  • Hajnal Király: Pop Music, Nostalgia and Melancholia in Dollybirds (1996) and Liza, the Fox Fairy (2015). In Ewa Mazierska, Zsolt Győri (eds.): Popular Music and the Moving Image in Eastern Europe, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018 (forthcoming).
  • Ágnes Pethő: Approaches to Studying Intermediality in Contemporary Cinema. In: Caught In-Between. Intermediality in Contemporary Eastern European and Russian Cinema, Edinburgh University Press (forthcoming)
  • Hajnal Király: Intermedially Emotional. Musical Mood-Cues, Disembodied Feelings in Contemporary Hungarian Melodramas. In: Caught In-Between. Intermediality in Contemporary Eastern European and Russian Cinema, Edinburgh University Press (forthcoming)
  • Judit Pieldner: Black-and-White Sensations of History and Female Identity in Contemporary Polish and Czech Cinema. In: Caught In-Between. Intermediality in Contemporary Eastern European and Russian Cinema, Edinburgh University Press (forthcoming)
  • Ágnes Pethő: Sculpture and Affect in Cinema's Expanded Field. From Aleksey Gherman Sr.'s Hard to be a God to Aleksey Gherman Jr.'s Under Electric Clouds. In: Caught In-Between. Intermediality in Contemporary Eastern European and Russian Cinema, Edinburgh University Press (forthcoming)
  • Melinda Blos-Jáni: Photographic Passages to the Past in Eastern-European Nonfiction Films. In: Caught In-Between. Intermediality in Contemporary Eastern European and Russian Cinema, Edinburgh University Press (forthcoming)
  • Ágnes Pethő: The Photo-Filmic and the Post-Human. Picturesque Landscapes at the Peripheries of Global Cinema. In: Kim Knowles and Marion Schmid (eds.): Cinematic Intermediality: Theory and Practice, Edinburgh University Press (forthcoming).

International collaborations

Scientific report

  1. Report about the research activity in the period between July and December 2017.


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