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The University of Southampton

‘What’s on MUBI Tonight?’: Curating the Online Film Experience Seminar

16:00 - 17:45
14 March 2017
Lecture Theatre B Avenue Campus Faculty of Humanities University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Ruby Cheung at .

Event details

Part of the Film Research Seminar Series 2016 - 2017. All welcome.



For over a decade, the advent of online film distribution has inspired a utopian vision of change and disruption. Rooted in the principles of digital democracy, this vision supports the common notion that online distribution widens consumer choice and broadens access to a variety of audio-visual content. In essence, this is seen to deliver a powerful form of consumer empowerment, one which deeply transcends the limitations of physical media channels and which loosens the shackles of linear content delivery. However, despite the widening of choice and the supposed empowerment of consumers, the growth of on-demand culture has seen a concurrent rise in the presence and value of digital content curation. At the forefront of driving this revival is the on-demand platform MUBI, a company that offers a markedly different approach to the standard practice of digital content delivery. Indeed, whilst the likes of Netflix and Amazon trade on notions of choice, autonomy and empowerment, MUBI actively restricts consumer choice by offering a more curated and linear model of exhibition. This paper explores the recent resurgence of content curation through a detailed study of the on-demand player MUBI. Taking into account the central role that curation plays in delivering the MUBI ‘experience’, this paper considers how the practice and philosophy of MUBI informs some of the broader debates around choice and empowerment in a digital landscape of on-demand content. What emerges is a more complex portrait of the digital terrain, one in which the practice of on-demand delivery is less disruptive than many suggest and more consistent with the practices and traditions which have long defined physical channels of linear content delivery.


Speaker information

Mr Elliott Nikdel, University of Southampton. Elliott Nikdel recently completed an AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Southampton. His thesis, entitled ‘Online Distribution and the Relocation of Specialised Film’, explores the burgeoning landscape of on-demand content and considers issues of access and democratisation through a lens of historical continuity, rather than the dominant narrative of change and disruption. This commitment to exploring the complex relationship between past and present practices is further evidenced in his work across the broader field of distribution and exhibition. His essay, ‘Re-centering the Cinematic Experience in a Multi-platform, Digital Age’ was published in a special edition of Networking Knowledge and his work on cult fandom and the recent growth of experiential cinema can be found in the forthcoming collection, Cult Media: Re-packaged, Re-released and Restored (Palgrave Macmillan).

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