Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Our priority is the health and wellbeing of our students, staff and visitors. The University of Edinburgh website is being regularly updated with advice for students and staff on teaching and learning.

Take me to Coronavirus updates on the University of Edinburgh website

We have made the decision to postpone or cancel all non-teaching events, such as talks by visiting speakers, for the health of our audiences and speakers. This is for the foreseeable future.

Pleasures Prejudice Pride: An Indian way of Filmmaking

WHEN: Thursday 26 September 2019 @ 17:00 – 19:30
WHERE: Screening Room, 50 George Square
COST: Free

In the run up to the University’s week long South Asia week celebrations culminating with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, we are delighted to welcome back Dr Piyush Roy and the launch of his film on Indian cinema: Pleasures Prejudice Pride.

This will be an evening for a discussion screening of Roy Piyush’s new documentary film – Pleasures Prejudice Pride: An Indian Way of Filmmaking (2019) – at The University of Edinburgh.

Piyush graduated with an MSc in Film Studies in 2009 at the University of Edinburgh and completed his PhD on the history of gesture in Indian film acting at the Centre for South Asian Studies.

The screening of film will be followed by a panel discussion with Dr Talat Ahmed, Co-Director of Centre for South Asian Studies and Dr David Sorfa, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies.

Crisis? What Crisis? Fantasies of Masculine Identity in Contemporary Cinema

From the Me Too movement to the Incel movement, from the click-bait soundbites of Jordan Peterson to the tearful performance of Brett Kavanaugh, there is a sense in the air that masculinity is facing some sort of crisis. When in Totem and Taboo, Freud sought to offer a myth to account for the origins of society, he placed the alpha-father at the centre, wittingly or not, linking society inextricably with patriarchy. This Lacan in Scotland event will begin with a brief presentation by Calum Neill which will explore Lacan’s distillation and recuperation of Freud’s myth and the ways in which it might help us to interrogate something of what is going on in current male identity. Key to this will be the distinction between myth and fantasy. Considering the latter in terms of contemporary cinema, we will be watching clips from and discussing a selection of popular movies, including George Stevens’ Shane, James Mangold’s Logan, Xavier Legrand’s Jusqu’ à la Garde (Custody) and the Russo brothers’ Avengers: Infinity War.

Following the presentation, David Sorfa will problematise and extend the ideas explored with further clips and will chair an audience led discussion.

Date: 5 December 2018
Time: 18:30-20:00
Venue: Screening Room (G.04), 50 George Square
University of Edinburgh


Calum Neill is Associate Professor of Psychoanalysis & Cultural Theory at Edinburgh Napier University and Director of Lacan in Scotland. David Sorfa is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh and Editor-in-Chief, Film-Philosophy.

Edinburgh Film Seminar: Semester 1 2018-19

We are glad to announce the Edinburgh Film Seminars for Semester 1 in the 2018-19 academic year.

Dr James MacDowell (University of Warwick)
On the Nature of Irony in Films
6 November 2018
LG.06, David Hume Tower

Dr Miriam Ross (Victoria University of Wellington, NZ)
Virtual Reality’s Disappearing Screen: The Ultimate Total Cinema?
13 November 2018
LH.09, David Hume Tower

Professor D.N. Rodowick (University of Chicago)
Powers of the Virtual in Contemporary Art
27 November 2018
G.03 (Large Lecture Theatre), 50 George Square

Screening Europe 2018

Our Screening Europe season returns to Filmhouse at the end of January and begins with The Cremator (the theme is, of course, humour and irony). David Sorfa will be joined by Pasquale Iannone and Eszter Simor to introduce these films:

The Cremator (Juraj Herz, Czechoslovakia, 1969): 30 January 2018 @ 6pm

Surviving Life (Jan Švankmajer, Czech Republic, 2010): 6 February 2018 @ 6pm

Kills on Wheels (Tiszta Szívvel, Hungary, 2016): 13 February 2018 @ 6pm

Leningrad Cowboys Go America (Aki Kaurismäki, Finland, 1989): 20 February 2018 @ 6pm

Pulp (Michael Hodges, UK, 1972): 27 February 2018 @ 6pm

Britannia Hospital (Lindsay Anderson, UK, 1982): 6 March 2018 @ 6pm

Spring Breakers @ Gallery 23

Screening of Spring Breakers with introduction by Dr David Sorfa (Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, University of Edinburgh)

Venue: Gallery 23 (English Speaking Union)
Date: Friday 22 September 2017
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Address: 23 Atholl Crescent

Admission: £5 on the door (includes 2 free alcoholic drinks)

Come and enjoy Harmony Korine’s 2012 film which has already attained cult film status in a few short years. Dr David Sorfa will be delivering an introduction to this vastly strange yet entertaining movie. Not to be missed, Spring Breakers offers a commentary on modern-day superficiality and the younger generation’s obsession with highly stylised pop culture media.

Shakespeare on Film

2091678577_hamlet_1-scaledIn association with the University of Edinburgh, Filmhouse is proud to present a varied programme of Shakespeare adaptations by great filmmakers. Pushing across boundaries of language, genre and culture, the programme emphasises the diversity of approaches filmmakers have taken in responding to Shakespeare’s plays, going far beyond conventional renditions of the text.

Screenings will be introduced by academics from the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.
  • Thursday 29 September (5:40pm): Hamlet (Laurence Olivier, 1948) – Introduction by Dr Dermot Cavanagh, English
  • Sunday 2 October (4pm): Public lecture by Dr David Sorfa, “Double, Double: Reflecting Shakespeare in Cinema”
  • Tuesday 4 October (6pm): Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957) – Dr Chris Perkins, Japanese
  • Wednesday 5 October (6pm): To Be or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942) – Dr Jonny Murray, Edinburgh College of Art
  • Monday 17 October (6pm): A Double Life (George Cukor, 1947) – Dr David Sorfa, Film
  • Sunday 23 October (6.10pm): Romeo, Juliet and Darkness (Jiri Weiss, 1960) – Dr David Sorfa, Film
  • Thursday 27 October (8:30pm): Prospero’s Books (Peter Greenaway, 1991) – Dr Suzanne Trill, English
  • Monday 31 October (6:05pm): Kiss Me Kate (in 3D) (George Sidney, 1953) – Dr Annette Davison, Music
  • Wednesday 2 November (6:15pm): Makibefo (Alexander Abela, 2001) – Africa in Motion Film Festival
  • Monday 7 November (8:50pm): A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (Woody Allen, 1982) – Dr Andrew Taylor, English
  • Tuesday 8 November (5:45 pm): Henry V (Kenneth Branagh, 1989) – Dr Dermot Cavanagh, English
  • Monday 21 November (6pm): Forbidden Planet (Fred M Wilcox, 1956) – Professor James Loxley, English
  • Wednesday 23 November (6pm): Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 1965) – Dr Daniel Yacavone, Film

Edinburgh Film Seminar 2016-17 (Semester 1)

We are happy to announce the Edinburgh Film Seminars for Semester 1 of 2016-17. All welcome.


Wednesday 26 October 2016
Time: 16:30 – 18:30
Venue: G.03, 50 George Square

Dr William Brown
Senior Lecturer in Film Studies
University of Roehampton, London

Schrödinger’s Cinema: The Matter of Life and Death

In this paper, I shall discuss the way in which cinema regularly dissolves the boundary between life and death. This happens not just on a narrative level as characters return from the dead in films like Heaven Can Wait (1943 and 1978), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Always (1989), Ghost (1990) and Truly Madly Deeply (1990). It also happens with regard to the mise-en-scène of films, in particular through the figure of the supposedly dead body that is visibly breathing, as well as through cinema’s considerable array of ‘undead’ entities (zombies, vampires, ghosts, ghouls and more). If for Gilles Deleuze, the people are missing from cinema, then cinema also has a history of missing people, whose status as dead or alive is unsure. Indeed, these dead/alive missing people bring to mind Ernst Schrödinger’s famous experiment, in which a cat in a box is determined as both dead and alive. I should like to propose, therefore, cinema as Schrödinger’s cat, or Schrödinger’s cinema, through which lens we can read cinema’s bent towards narrative and the ‘hero’s quest’ as a means to resolve this seeming contradiction of states. While most (narrative) films try to resolve this contradiction (to determine whether dead or alive, often through the act of killing), various films nonetheless take us inside the box of life and death (The Vanishing, 1988; Kill Bill, 2003; Buried, 2010), with cinema thus revealing to us on a philosophical level that the distinction between death and life is illusory. This is most clearly discussed, and becomes a key thematic element, in the recent Girl With All The Gifts (2016) – where destiny of the human is indeed revealed to be matter of both life and death.

Bio: William Brown is a Senior Lecturer in Film at the University of Roehampton, London. Among other things, he is the author of Non-Cinema: Global Digital Filmmaking and the Multitude (Bloomsbury, 2018) and Supercinema: Film-Philosophy for the Digital Age (Berghahn, 2013). He is also the director of various zero-budget feature films, including En Attendant Godard (2009), Selfie (2014), The New Hope (2015), Ur: The End of Civilization in 90 Tableaux (2015), Circle/Line (2016), Letters to Ariadne (2016) and The Benefit of Doubt (2016).


Tuesday 22 November 2016
Time: 17:30 – 19:30
Venue: Project Room 1.06, 50 George Square

Dr Mattias Frey
Reader in Film Studies
University of Kent

The Crises of Film Criticism and the Promises of Film Studies

For a discipline in its relative adolescence, film studies has experienced a whole host of trends in its methodologies, emphases and even subject matter. This talk argues against a zero-sum scenario and for a more comprehensive and broad-church attitude to film and media research, using the example of a research project on the future of film criticism in the age of the internet. Plunging print circulations, immaterial online advertising revenues and the sacking of prominent critics have put the profession and institution under intense journalistic and increasing scholarly scrutiny. This talk anatomises the contours of the debate and offers historical and institutional approaches (among others) in order to relativise and tentatively resolve these ‘teeth-baring and wound-licking moments of “crisis”’ (Nick James).

Bio: Mattias Frey is Reader in Film at the University of Kent. He is an Editor of the journal Film Studies (Manchester UP) and his books include Postwall German Cinema: History, Film History, and Cinephilia (Berghahn, 2013); Cine-Ethics: Ethical Dimensions of Film Theory, Practice, and Spectatorship (Routledge, 2014; coedited with Jinhee Choi); The Permanent Crisis of Film Criticism: The Anxiety of Authority (Amsterdam UP, 2015); Film Criticism in the Digital Age (Rutgers UP, 2015; coedited with Cecilia Sayad); and Extreme Cinema: The Transgressive Rhetoric of Today’s Art Film Culture (Rutgers UP, 2016).





Ex Machina: Screening and Discussion

As part of the Artificial Intelligence strand at the Festival of Politics, Dr David Sorfa will chair a discussion after a screening of Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2013) at the Scottish Parliament.

Ex Machina (15)
Date: Friday 19 August
Time: 18:30 to 21:00
Cost: £6.00/£4.00
Location: Members’ Room
Chairs: Dr David Sorfa
Tags: artificial intelligence, Film and TV

There will be a special screening of the film Ex Machina followed by a short panel discussion chaired by Dr David Sorfa, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh and editor of the journal Film-Philosophy.

In Conversation with Oliver Stone

Oliver StoneThe University of Edinburgh is delighted to welcome three-time Academy Award-winner Oliver Stone to Scotland. The celebrated writer, producer and director will disucss his illustrious career with University of Edinburgh experts at an event in Edinburgh’s Filmhouse on Wednesday 9th March.

Oliver Stone has written and directed more than 20 full-length feature films, among them Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), JFK (1991), Nixon (1995) and the documentaries W (2008) and Untold History of the United States (2012).

Following an introduction by LLC’s Dr David Sorfa, Edinburgh College of Art academic Dr Jonny Murray will join Oliver Stone on stage to gain insight on his artistic and political motivations, and thoughts on how the film industry has changed throughout his thirty-year career. He will also talk about his current project, the highly anticipated political thriller, Snowden, ahead of its nation-wide release later this year. The film is directed by Oliver Stone, and co-written with Kieran Fitzgerald.

The event has been organised by Edinburgh College of Art at the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Filmhouse

Tickets for In Conversation with Oliver Stone cost £10 (£8 concessions) and go on sale at 10am on Thursday 18th February via the Filmhouse website:

Screening Europe at Filmhouse

Screening Europe at Filmhouse

Screening Europe is a new season of films curated by Film at the University of Edinburgh. We will bring a varied selection of past and contemporary European films to the Filmhouse to celebrate and interrogate the history and aesthetics of cinema in Europe. We invite members of the public as well as students to join us for an exciting series of introduced screenings that will chart the development of film across Europe.

Throughout this semester, we will be screening one European film per week at the Filmhouse on Tuesdays at 6pm.

Tuesdays: January – March 2016 at 6pm

Tue 26 January: The Tempest (Derek Jarman, UK, 1979)

Tue 2 February: Macbeth (Justin Kurzel, UK, 2015)

Tue 9 February: The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, France/Poland/Norway, 1991)

Tue 16 February: The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat, France/Italy, 2007)

Tue 23 February: The Draughtsman’s Contract (Peter Greenaway, UK, 1982)

Tue 1 March: Eisenstein in Guanajuato (Peter Greenaway, Netherlands/Mexico/Finland/Belgium, 2015)

Tue 8 March: Jamón Jamón (Bigas Luna, Spain, 1992)

Tue 15 March: Bastards / Les salauds (Claire Denis, France/Germany, 2013)

Tue 22 March: Young Soul Rebels (Isaac Julien, UK/France/Germany/Spain, 1991)

Tue 29 March: Northern Soul (Elain Constantine, UK, 2014)

Our first programme of ten films looks back to the 1991 Screening Europe conference and subsequent book edited by Duncan Petrie, published by the BFI. The London conference focussed on the possible consequences for cinema of Europe’s movement into a post-communist era. The conference was preceded by a small film festival at the National Film Theatre examining “new forms of European and old forms of national identity”. In our season we screen as many of these films as possible alongside recent productions that speak to each original film in terms of theme, style, nationality or director. We will explore the ways in which European cinema, if not European identity, has changed over the last twenty-five years and more.

All films will be introduced by Dr David Sorfa, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Film Seminar 2015-16 (Semester 1)

The Edinburgh Film Seminar hosts talks by academics throughout the teaching year. The seminars are open to all staff and students at the University of Edinburgh and to members of the public. There is no charge and no need to book to attend.

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Past Seminars

Thursday 24 September 2015: 5:30pm
50 George Square – Lecture Theatre G.03

Professor Richard I. Suchenski (Bard College, New York)
“Also like Life: the Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien”

Hou Hsiao-hsien is the most important Taiwanese filmmaker and his sensuous, richly nuanced work is at the heart of everything that is vigorous and genuine in contemporary film culture. An heir to the great modernist legacy – with its use of elegantly staged long takes, the performance of many non-actors, and a radically, even vertiginously, elliptical mode of storytelling – Hou’s cinema does place unusual demands on the viewer, but its sophistication is understated and its formal innovations are irreducibly bound up with the sympathetic observation of everyday experience. This presentation will explore Hou’s stylistic development, his treatment of point-of-view, and his unique approach to space and time.

Richard I. Suchenski is the Founder and Director of the Center for Moving Image Arts and Assistant Professor of Film and Electronic Arts at Bard College. His work focuses on the development of cinematic modernism internationally and on the relationship between film and the other arts. He is the author of Projections of Memory: Romanticism, Modernism, and the Aesthetics of Film (Oxford University Press, 2016), the editor of Hou Hsiao-hsien (Austrian Filmmuseum/Columbia University Press, 2014), and the organizer of the internationally touring retrospective “Also like Life: the Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien.”

8 October 2015: 5:30pm 12028662_713614185437800_850183916310504920_o
Appleton Tower – Lecture Theatre 1

Professor Lisa Downing (University of Birmingham)
“Selfish Cinema: Questions of Gender and Control in Adaptations of Ayn Rand for the Screen”

This lecture examines onscreen representations of the work and legacy of influential, pro-capitalist writer and philosopher Ayn Rand, infamous for her theory of selfishness as a virtue. It explores two films: King Vidor’s The Fountainhead (1949), based on Rand’s 1943 novel, for which she was screen writer, and Chris Menaul’s The Passion of Ayn Rand (1999), an adaptation of Barbara Branden’s biography of Rand, starring Helen Mirren. The Fountainhead tells the story of Rand’s ideal heroic man, Howard Roark (played by Gary Cooper), an individualistic architect whose single-minded desire is to design and execute his vision of what a building should be: formally, functionally, and aesthetically. In her collaboration with Vidor, Rand demanded – and obtained – a degree of control over the film that was almost unprecedented for a writer in Hollywood at the time, made all the more extraordinary by the fact that she was a woman in a very male-dominated industry. In the film, Roark functions as Rand’s onscreen representative and his literal, architectural edifices convey in physical form the audacity of Rand’s philosophical one. The Passion of Ayn Rand, by contrast, paints an intimate portrait of Rand’s personal life and details the emotional control and manipulation she exerted over her husband, lover, friends and followers. In Menaul’s film, stripped of a heroic (male) onscreen representative or alter ego, the Randian character as a female selfish subject is rendered both vulnerable and monstrous in ways that I argue are specifically gendered. More broadly, then, the two filmic examples enable me to explore the gender politics of film adaptation and biographical representation, as well as of the philosophy of selfishness.

Lisa Downing is Professor of French Discourses of Sexuality at the University of Birmingham, UK. She is the author of numerous books, articles, and chapters on sexuality and gender studies, film, and critical theory. Recent authored books include: The Cambridge Introduction to Michel Foucault (Cambridge University Press, 2008), Film and Ethics: Foreclosed Encounters (co-authored with Libby Saxton, Routledge, 2010), The Subject of Murder: Gender, Exceptionality, and the Modern Killer (University of Chicago Press, 2013), and Fuckology: Critical Essays on John Money’s Diagnostic Concepts (co-authored with Iain Morland and Nikki Sullivan, University of Chicago Press, 2015). She is currently editing a volume entitled After Foucault for Cambridge University Press, and writing a monograph on female selfishness, of which the seminar paper at Edinburgh is a part.


23 October 2015: 2pm-5pm12039243_716026481863237_4150734712150686880_n
LG.11, David Hume Tower

Professor Emma Wilson (University of Cambridge)
“Agnès Varda’s paintings: The Madonna del parto”

[Part of the Department of European Languages “Film and the other Arts” research strand]

In speaking about her inspiration for her film _Cléo de 5 à 7_ (1962) Varda offers insight into a broader issue in her filmmaking: her interest in and return to the visual arts, and painting above all. She says: ‘The force of painting is to provide works which can offer perpetual inspiration and rêverie’. Painting is, for her, a resource for holding and proposing affect, unspoken feelings. Varda’s visual archive, still images, paintings from museums, offer a repository of feeling, sensation and memory. They intimate and make visible something beyond what we see in the films themselves. I close in here on one masterwork, a painting in her private collection. This painting is Piero della Francesca’s _Madonna del Parto_ (painted sometime after 1475) and on display in Monterchi. This painting, I argue, is an important point of reference in Varda’s first feature film, _La Pointe Courte_ (1954).

Emma Wilson is Professor of French Literature and the Visual Arts at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College. Her books include _Cinema’s Missing Children_(2003), _Alain Resnais_ (2006), _Atom Egoyan_ (2009) and _Love, Mortality and the Moving Image_ (2012). She is currently working on a project about women filmmakers and photographers working in Paris.


5 November 2015: 5:30pm11143169_713615615437657_7176403219773172638_o
50 George Square – Lecture Theatre G.03

Dr. Richard Baxstrom (University of Edinburgh)
“Realizing the Witch: Science, Cinema, and the Mastery of the Invisible”

In Realizing the Witch, Baxstrom and Meyers show how Häxan opens a window onto wider debates in the 1920s regarding the relationship of film to scientific evidence, the evolving study of religion from historical and anthropological perspectives, and the complex relations between popular culture, artistic expression, and concepts in medicine and psychology. Häxan is a film that travels along the winding path of art and science rather than between the narrow division of “documentary” and “fiction.” Baxstrom and Meyers reveal how Christensen’s attempt to tame the irrationality of “the witch” risked validating the very “nonsense” that such an effort sought to master and dispel. Häxan is a notorious, genre-bending, excessive cinematic account of the witch in early modern Europe. Realizing the Witch not only illustrates the underrated importance of the film within the canons of classic cinema, it lays bare the relation of the invisible to that which we cannot prove but nevertheless “know” to be there.’-

Richard Baxstrom is Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, and co-editor of the journal Visual Culture in Britain.