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Ece Sila Bora (CITI-GENS ESR4)

Innovative Ways of Seeing Cities through Cinema

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Pure Profile

Project Description

The project explores how the study of film locations in the UK and the Republic of Ireland can help scholars, professionals, and political authorities to consider alternative ways of understanding how cities and societies change and grow and are perceived and experienced by residents as well as tourists. It will do so by collecting and producing data, which will be analysed using innovative methodologies from architecture and film studies as well as geography. The research will include in-depth interdisciplinary analyses of significant case studies to generate a new portrait of these cities using audio-visual and textual material including historical and contemporary maps, film clips, photographs, drawings, 3D models, animations/fly-throughs, (open source and other) software programmes, and critical analyses. Latest available technologies such as spatial GIS mapping, surveying via 3D scans, 3D modelling, edge detection, and augmented/virtual reality systems will be applied and combined to create innovative methodological approaches that will be exemplary for future research.

While the relationship between cinema, architecture and the urban environment has become the subject of a growing interdisciplinary research area, very limited research has been conducted on the cinematic representation of Irish cities and history of film production on the island from an architectural/urban viewpoint. The project represents a substantive attempt to put its two capitals, Belfast and Dublin, on the expanding global map of cinematic cities using contemporary methods and technologies. It will examine how fiction films shot and set in Belfast and Dublin represent the built environment as well as urban living, and how that portrays and/or affects the wellbeing of their citizens. By looking at the understudied role of cinema in cultural and social development in Irish cities, both in the south and north, this comparative approach will offer an innovative perspective on the urban development and experience on two sides of the border. The project comes at a critical time in which local and international investments support the growth of the film industries in NI and the Republic. Accordingly, the objectives of the project are:

  1. To offer new ways of seeing cities through a comprehensive methodology devising contemporary technologies in architecture, film studies and geography that will be made publicly available
  2. To explore how architectural and urban characteristics of film locations and their cinematic representations have influenced each other in Belfast and Dublin
  3. To examine how cinema has represented, and influenced, the urban experience and wellbeing of city dwellers
  4. To collaborate with public/private stakeholders to discuss how research findings can support film commissioners and policy makers in promoting the architectural and urban characteristics of Belfast and Dublin, and their development as sites of film tourism.

As this PhD project has highly innovative high-tech components, particularly spatial mapping and data digitisation in the humanities, it is essential for the appointed research student to follow the most recent digital technologies and academic literature. For that reason, they will be encouraged to attend international conferences (either physical or virtual) and to submit research papers to distinguished international journals as they proceed with their work. They will also have an opportunity to visit a university, research centre and/or institution outside of the UK that conduct innovative forms of practice and/or research in the same area.

Project Partners

Film Hub NI
Ece will work closely with Film Hub NI in South Belfast to organise a film season entitled “The Irish City,” and to engage with the public to collect data and disseminate research development and findings. With the support of FHNI, the researcher will also approach Irish Film Institute (IFI) and British Film Institute (BFI) to take these dissemination (and data collection) activities to Dublin and London. The first supervisor has worked with the Hub on several occasions and they have proven to be a liable and beneficial partner. Joan Parsons, Signatory of Film Hub NI has kindly agreed to act as the third supervisor.

The Centre of Architecture and the Visual Arts (CAVA), School of Architecture, University of Liverpool
CAVA is a multi-disciplinary and practice-based research centre in Liverpool that focuses on space, media and culture in the context of digital, networked spaces and spatial practices. Their Mapping the City in Film project that holds information on over 1700 films made in and about Liverpool in its database, for instance, would be exemplary for the PhD project.