Contemporary Realism (7.2)

Cinephile 7.2, Contemporary Realism

Deadline for Draft Submissions: September 30, 2011

Realism appears to have reached a critical juncture in recent years: digital technology has all but usurped the photographic medium, rendering the indexical nature of photographic images obsolete (Doane 2002; Rodowick 2007); “reality” television and on-line exhibitionism have proliferated audiovisual culture, trivializing the fidelity of documentary realism and its particular mode of truth telling; and social realism has gradually detached itself from the socio-political convictions that once defined it, instead looking inward towards private/familial issues removed from the public sphere (Hill 2000; Lay 2002).  Yet, despite the tenors of realism being either obfuscated or abated, the term is still employed relatively free from scrutiny in academic discourse, begging the question: what does realism mean today?  Is this latest impasse merely a reconfiguration of issues that have always affected the term, or have we shifted into an era of post-realism, typified by a rejection of its historical usage and associations?

These matters are at the crux of our Winter 2011/2012 issue, proposing a re-evaluation of cinematic realism for the 21st century. Influenced by Ivone Margulies’ pivotal reassessment of the concept in Rites of Realism: Essays on Corporeal Cinema (2002), Cinephile welcomes papers that explore new, neglected, or underdeveloped areas of realism in contemporary film and television. Possible starting points include:

  • the reappraisal of André Bazin’s and Siegfried Kracauer’s ontology of realism
  • realist trends in national/transnational cinemas (New Iranian Cinema, Romanian New Wave, China’s “Sixth Generation” cinema, etc.)
  • realism, reportage, and the exclusivity of pro-filmic events (unsimulated sex, death, violence, etc.)
  • the current state of British Social Realism
  • so-called American Neo-Neo Realism (Wendy and Lucy, Ballast, Goodbye Solo, The Builder, etc.)
  • the reinvigoration of realism in Canadian cinema (Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, Les Ring, etc.)
  • social realist auteurs (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Ken Loach, Wang Xiaoshuai, etc.)
  • female filmmakers and feminist realism (Kelly Reichardt, Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay, etc.)
  • realism and genre studies (realism in genre films; realism as a genre)
  • spectatorship and the reception of realism
  • aesthetic naturalism and digital media (Digital 3-D, shooting at 48fps, etc.)
  • the hybridization of documentary/fiction cinema
  • film temporality and the “real time” sequence shot
  • the ethics of verisimilitude in documentary cinema/television
  • the soundscape of realism

We encourage submissions from graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty.

Papers should be between 2000-3500 words, follow MLA guidelines, and include a detailed works cited page, as well as a biography of the author.  Submissions and inquiries should be directed to:

Cinephile is the University of British Columbia’s film journal, published with the continued support of the Centre for Cinema Studies. We are proud to feature a new article by Paul Wells in our upcoming Fall 2011 issue. Previous issues have featured original essays by such noted scholars as Matt Hills, K.J. Donnelly, Murray Pomerance, Slavoj Žižek, and Barry Keith Grant.  Since 2009, the journal has adopted a blind peer-review process and has moved to biannual publication.  It is available both online and in print via subscription.  For more information and the latest updates, please visit our website at