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Rethinking Eastern European Cinema in a Post-Cold War Ideological Framework

Final Report Summary - EASTFILM (Rethinking Eastern European Cinema in a Post-Cold War Ideological Framework)

Rethinking Eastern European Cinema in a Post-Cold War Ideological Framework
Researcher: Constantin Parvulescu
West University of Timisoara, Romania
publishable summary

EASTFILM was funded through a Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant (IRG). It ran between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2014. It was an interdisciplinary project in the human sciences, which aimed to study the Cinema of Eastern Europe and promote its values locally and internationally. It sought to achieve this goal by focusing on three main objectives:

1. The publication of a scholarly book on Eastern European cinema with a prestigious international press.
2. The incorporation of courses in Eastern European film into West University’s curriculum.
3. The establishment of an Eastern European Film and Media Center within West University.

The project achieved all its goals, and the researcher was offered a permanent position at West University. The research Dr. Parvulescu has done for EASTFILM and the dissemination of his work via academic articles, invited lectures, and conference presentations established him as a leading scholar in the field of Eastern European film studies.

Titled Orphans of the East. Cinema and the Production of the Revolutionary Subject in Eastern Europe, 1945-1989, the researcher’s scholarly book project is under print with Indiana University Press, and is scheduled to appear in March 2015. The researcher has taught several courses in Eastern European cinema within various departments and programs of West University of Timisoara and abroad. The Center for Eastern European Film and Media Studies was established in 2011, and has been organizing several meaningful events, such as conferences, film showcases, talks, book events which can be seen on the Center’s website

Orphans of the East is a book project in Eastern European film and intellectual history. It studies Eastern European political films of the second half of the twentieth century that have orphans as protagonists with the purpose of tracing the way in which cinema envisioned and debated the condition of the post-World War II subject and the “new man” of Soviet-style communism. The orphan, the child of the community or the state, becomes an insightful cinematic trope in investigating political visions of institutionalization and re-education. Each of the six chapters of the book concentrates on one film, produced in Hungary, GDR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Romania, and at various stages of the development of Eastern European socialism. Orphans of the East is the only interdisciplinary study on Eastern European socialism and its film in the field that regards Eastern Europe and its cinema as unitary transnational political and artistic projects. The book equally combines film history and political and aesthetic theory, synthesizes a common cinematic and political experience resulting from these countries’ shared past, their geopolitical location between superpowers and their exposure of Soviet-style radical modernization.

Dr. Parvulescu has done research for his book in various archives and libraries in Bucharest, Berlin, Budapest, and Prague, has presented his work at several international conferences (NECS conventions in Lisbon 2012 and Prague 2013, and at the Screen Industries conference in Olomuc, Czech Republic in 2013), and as an invited speaker (Free University Berlin and University of Regensburg). The first chapter of his book was published by the prestigious international journal Central Europe (May, 2012), under the title “The Continent in Ruins and Its Redeeming Orphans: Géza Radvany and Béla Balázs’ Somewhere in Europe and the Rebuilding of the Postwar Polis.”

Dr. Parvulescu’s classes on Eastern European film have been either surveys of Eastern European cinema, taught in the Arts School, or courses in topics of Eastern European film and culture, which he taught in various programs in the Department of Political Sciences. Such courses focused on the representation of Stalinism in Eastern European film (taught in West University’s International Relations BA Program), on films addressing the 1989 events (taught at University of Western Bohemia, Pilsen), on Eastern European film and migration (taught within the MA program in European Studies at West University of Timisoara), and on Eastern European film and the Holocaust (taught in the German Language BA Program in International Relations and European Studies at West University of Timisoara).

The Center for Eastern European Studies raised awareness on issues regarding Eastern European film internationally, nationally and in the researcher’s home university. Internationally it promoted the goals of EASTFILM through the Center’s website and by orgnaizing a series of international events, the most important being the 2012 conference Small Cinemas: Promotion and Reception, which gathered presenters from fifteen countries (see conference program With national or local impact, the Center organized or co-organized various events: film nights with invited filmmakers; festivals such as the Tranzfilm (presenting Eastern European films about the post 1989 transition process in Eastern Europe); various conferences and book events connected to Eastern European cinema. More information on the Center’s News and Events page

EASTFILM has been a successful project, which is continued in terms of research, teaching and promotion. The researcher has started working on a new book project. In the next academic year, he plans to teach a class on films that thematize the body in Eastern Europe. In terms of organizing events that raise interest on the topic Eastern European film, the most important is the continuation and expansion of the Tranzfilm festival and conference.