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Special Issue: Film Coproduction in Eastern Europe from 1949 to the Present

Abstract Deadline: 1 September 2019
Deadline for Full Articles: February 2020

Over the last 20 years film coproduction has attracted increasing scholarly attention, in tandem with the ascendancy of ‘transnational cinema’ as a critical paradigm. Much of this research has concerned West European cinemas, and has helped revise prior histories of the region’s film industries. Where Tim Bergfelder’s analysis of genre film coproductions in the 1950s and ‘60s reveals a transnational dimension to the dominant European cinemas long preceding the ‘postmodern’ 1990s, Mark Betz’s own study of European coproduction challenges the specific association between art cinema and national cinema.

While the study of coproductions from the so-called ‘other Europe’ has already seen some important pioneering contributions (from, say, Pavel Skopal, Ewa Mazierska and Eva Naripea), this remains an area with rich potential for research. To examine the rise of the coproduction in Eastern Europe from the 1950s onwards is to offer a still greater challenge to established preconceptions than was the case with Western Europe, here helping to problematise the notion of state-socialist film industries as strictly ‘isolationist’ entities, unconcerned with international success and subordinated to predominantly ideological interests.

Indeed coproduction illuminates shifts in East European film-industry policy both within the communist era and in the latter’s transition to capitalism. The very variation in the forms that coproduction took tell an entire story, moving from the Soviet-directed coproduction policies of the late 1940s and 1950s, in which transnational ventures were conducted among socialist Bloc countries and driven by ideological expansionism, through to the pursuit of Western co-producing partners in the 1960s, when the motivations were rather the pragmatic ones of economic returns and access to superior equipment. Finally, the increase in East European coproduction since the fall of communism reflects adjustment both to European integration and to life within the global marketplace, with nations brought together under EU funding frameworks and local facilities put at the service of Hollywood productions.

If coproduction arrangements have thus taken a variety of forms in Eastern Europe, the artistic results of those arrangements have taken diverse forms too. Coproduction has played an important role in certain manifestations of popular cinema, from the fairy-tale to the ‘Indianerfilm’ or Red Western. But art films too – from Forman’s The Fireman’s Ball (1967) to Szabó’s Mephisto (1981) – have arisen from coproduction ventures with Western producers willing to finance prestigious auteurs. In Eastern Europe as elsewhere, coproduction has facilitated a mutual interpenetration of genres and aesthetic styles and produced striking hybrids of cultural and national identity.

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Submission Instructions

For this special issue of SEEC, we invite contributions on any aspects of East European coproduction from 1949 to the present. Articles may deal with coproduction between East European countries themselves or between Eastern Europe and other parts of the world (including Asia, Africa and Latin America as well as Western Europe and North America). We welcome articles dealing with institutions, policy and production as well as more textually oriented studies exploring the aesthetic and representational impacts of coproduction.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • The political and ideological dimensions of coproduction (as a means of ideological expansion, an expression of ‘Third World solidarity’, etc.).
  • Coproduction in relation to national and transnational film policies during the communist and post-communist periods.
  • Coproduction and its relations to international distribution and festival circuits.
  • The production practices and technologies of coproduction (e.g. multinational casting, dubbing, alternative cuts).
  • The relations between coproduction and ‘small cinemas’.
  • Coproduction and changes in state boundaries (e.g. from Czechoslovakia to the Czech and Slovak republics).
  • Actors, stardom and performance in the coproduction.
  • Representations of national and transnational identity in coproduced films; the signs and ‘marks’ of national or transnational status in content or aesthetics.
  • Representations of ‘Europeanness’ in coproduced films.
  • Coproduction and ‘popular’ or genre cinema (‘Indianerfilme’, fairy-tale films, science fiction, etc.).
  • Coproduction and art cinema (e.g. coproductions by auteur directors, the role of coproduction in New Wave cinemas).
  • Coproduction and non-feature film forms (e.g. animation, documentary).

Please send a 200-word article proposal, together with a short bio, to Jonathan Owen (jonathan.lyndon.owen@gmail.com) or Ewa Mazierska (EHMazierska@uclan.ac.uk) by 1 September 2019. The deadline for finished articles (which should be between 6000-7000 words) is 1 February 2020.

Editorial information

Guest Editor:
Jonathan Owen

Principal Editor:
Ewa Mazierska, University of Central Lancashire, UK

Deputy Editor:
Elzbieta Ostrowska, University of Alberta, Canada

Associate Editors:
László Strausz (reviews), Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary
Maya Nedyalkova (social media), Oxford Brookes University, UK

 

 

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