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The University of Southampton
FilmPart of Humanities

Cinema Before Nation: Historiographical questions for films in colonial-era Singapore Seminar

Cinema Before Nation: Historiograph
16:00 - 18:00
20 April 2021

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Tracy Storey at .

Event details

This talk introduces some initial ideas underpinning a new research project I'm working on in collaboration with other colleagues. This project takes the city-state of Singapore as a starting point from which to extrapolate broader questions for national cinemas, film historiographies and comparative histories. Singapore achieved full independence from the British in 1965 and its post 1990 'new wave' cinema has tended to locate 1965 as the starting point when conceptualising both its national history and the history of its national cinema production. However, prior to 1965, Singapore had a thriving film industry both in production and exhibition. It was the centre of Malay-language film production in the region for decades, as well as a lucrative market for Hong Kong and Chinese films due to its large Chinese diaspora. Many Hollywood films were also screened there. In addition, colonial Singapore (1819-1959) also provided the exotic backdrop for a number of Hollywood, Bollywood, European, and Chinese films from the 1920s through the 1950s. In other words, there was a thriving film culture that belies the rhetoric of a 'cultural desert' postulated by cultural critics in the post-independence era. My core contention is that to think productively about 'national cinemas' in Southeast Asia, a region shaped by postcolonial, postwar and Cold War geopolitics, is to not only think comparatively of the transnational regional and global flows within and without the nation, but also to consider what I call a cinema before nation. Please register using Eventbrite and you will then be sent a Outlook meeting request which will include the link to the seminar. Please note the seminar will take place online using Microsoft Teams. The deadline for registering for this event is 1pm on the day of the seminar (20/04/2021). Any questions or queries please contact Tracy Storey on Please note, we are planning on recording this seminar.

Speaker information

Felicia Chan, the University of Manchester . Felicia Chan is Senior Lecturer in Screen Studies at the University of Manchester where she researches the construction of national, cultural and cosmopolitan imaginaries in film, well as the influence of institutional and industrial practices on the production, distribution and reception of film. She is author of Cosmopolitan Cinema (2017), co-editor of Chinese Cinemas: International Perspectives (2016) and founding member of the Chinese Film Forum UK.

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