Circulating cinema: The moving image archive as Anglo-German contact zone


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Led by Professor Erica Carter (King’s College, London: KCL), with co-investigators Dr Martin Brady (King's College, London), Dr Annie Ring (University College London: UCL) and Dr Elizabeth Ward (University of Hull), Circulating Cinema explores the uses of the transnational archive as a resource for the retrieval, curation and dissemination of Anglo-German film heritage. 


Circulating Cinema (CIRCE) uses as its primary material extraterritorial and ‘orphaned’ archival holdings: media artefacts and documents that register traces of transnational connectivity and illuminate lost or critically neglected aspects of Germany’s relations with the Anglophone world. 


The moving image archive is seen in the project as a resource for an especially vivid reconstruction of transnationally shared historical experience. Scholars have suggested that the projection of archive film may generate in the audience the experience of a history that is no longer ‘a dormant organism….simply written about in the past tense,’ but ‘which actually and physically exists, imprinted into celluloid, within the present moment’. 


Film’s capacity to ‘register, represent and archive time and movement’ (Wood 2010) is drawn upon in this project in live events—screenings, talks, creative workshops—that are designed as fora for a collectively conceived research process with determinate academic outcomes (publications, online resources); as training platforms in archival methods for a rising generation of film, history and German Studies researchers; and as sites of public engagement with a selection of academic and non-academic publics in both local (physical) and global (virtual) space.


In seven interconnected subprojects, academic researchers come together with British and German students, cultural practitioners and lay audiences to explore archival holdings that register the traces of a shared Anglo-German media history. The project augments existing work on German cinema within European and Hollywood film networks with innovative research on German connections across colonial and postcolonial Anglophone cinemas, focusing in particular on India and West Africa. 


Institutional partners are Profs Dr Hermann Kappelhoff and Michael Wedel, Cinepoetics Center for Advanced Film Studies, FU-Berlin; and Prof Dr Sonia Campanini, Institut für Theater- Film- und Medienwissenschaft, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main.


Project affiliates are Julia Eisner and Laura Lux (PhD Students, KCL); Maxwell Jones (PhD student, University of Cambridge); Dr Eleanor Halsall (Project Postdoctoral Fellow, King’s College, London);  Dr Leila Mukhida (University of Cambridge); and Dr Franziska Nössig (King's College, London.)