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2013 Conference

Film, History and Public Memory

3-4 October 2013

Nerve Centre, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland

The Film, History and Public Memory conference, held 3-4 October in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, was a lively and significant intervention into the sometimes contentious discussions about the relationship between film and history. The objective of the conference was to bring together academics, practitioners, and members of the wider community to explore that relationship in both a local and global context. How should film as a medium frame the past and represent historical events? What is the role of film in shaping public perceptions of the past? How have film-makers addressed contested histories and divided societies in different parts of the world, including Ireland? Can film enhance historical understanding and post-conflict reconciliation? These questions were addressed in a series of discussions between historians, film and media scholars, community organisers, educators and film-makers.

The keynote speaker was Dr Alan Marcus (University of Aberdeen). Dr Marcus screened his short documentary In the Birch Grove as part of his talk, Aestheticising History on Film. The programme of events also included a screening of Joshua Oppenheimer's award-winning documentary The Act of Killing, followed by a Q&A with producer Joram ten Brink.

In addition to a number of panel sessions (23 individual papers presented), conference attendees had the opportunity to participate in a forum discussion on the subject of ‘History on Screen: Old Challenges, New Directions’. After brief reflections by panellists Dr Fearghal McGarry, Dr Cathal McLaughlin and Dr Sian Barber, the forum was opened to all conference participants, generating a dialogue about the issues and ideas raised over the course of the two-day conference.

The conference was truly international in scope. The topics covered included German, Irish, Baltic, South African, Spanish, English, Chilean, Italian, Polish, French, and Argentinean films and histories. Participants came from ten countries: presenters from Ireland, England and Scotland were joined by those from farther afield - Australia, the United States, France, Israel, Poland, Sarajevo, and Finland.

Twenty academic institutions were represented at the conference, as well as several community arts organisations. The presenters came from a variety of fields, reflecting the interdisciplinary intent of the conference: history, film studies and film production, European languages, English literature, journalism, art history, Hispanic studies, and philosophy. The presenters included academics from both the professional and the postgraduate level. In addition to traditional academics, filmmakers and other creative practitioners contributed to the panel sessions and forum.

This A.H.R.C.-funded event was organised by the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast, and was part of the Derry/Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 programme. Conference facilities were provided by the Nerve Centre, Northern Ireland’s leading creative media arts centre.

Download the Conference Programme.

Download the Conference Abstracts.

Download thecall for papers.   

Conference Registration:

Registration is now open and should be completed online. Please note that conference registration includes refreshments and a light lunch on both days of the conference. Additionally, we have arranged an optional conference dinner for the Friday evening, at the nearby Café del Mondo (cost includes a three-course set dinner and wine). If you would like to attend the dinner, please select that option (from the menu on the left-hand side of the registration page) to pre-pay and reserve your spot.

  • Conference registration – Academic staff, faculty & members of the public (GBP 40.00)
    Attendance to the full conference, including the film screening and all talks.
  • Conference registration – Postgraduate students (GBP 20.00)
    Attendance to the full conference, including the film screening and all talks.
  • Conference dinner (GBP 20.00)
    Attendance at the post-conference dinner at Café del Mondo, 6:30 PM, Friday, 4 October. Includes a three-course set menu and wine. The menu has both vegetarian and gluten free options and Café del Mondo uses locally sourced produce.

Click here to register for the conference.


Conference Delegates: Click here for more information and practical advice for planning your trip to Derry/Londonderry.