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My research, teaching, and media practice involve film and history, media aesthetics, film culture, the symbolic role of film in the cultural imaginary, and the use of new digital media in seeing and screening the flux of reality. My primary research and writing at the moment concerns the documentary work of the National Film Unit (NFU), from its establishment in 1941 to the advent of television in New Zealand in the 1960s. I have published several pieces on the NFU with the aim of writing a book-length cultural history of this influential documentary production unit. My book, Transnational Film Culture in New Zealand (2013), approaches cinema as a form of social practice and examines the reception of international film theories and discourses and shows how these ideas helped to shape distinct cultural practices, including new forms of reviewing; new methods of teaching; and new institutions such as film societies, art-house cinemas, and film festivals. I have extensive experience as a screen media arts practitioner, having worked in a variety of programme formats in France and New Zealand, and seek to develop innovative combinations of aesthetics and ethnographic explorations of reality in media practice. I am interested in supervising research projects that involve critical media practice, arthouse cinema, New Zealand and Australian films/film culture, screen representations of the South Pacific, and documentary production. Being a fluent French speaker, I can also (and would welcome) supervising French-langauge research projects involving the above.
My PhD (2004) examined film culture in New Zealand; how international ideas about 'film as art' and the cinema were received here and evolved over a 50 year period (1920s-1970s), leading to the rise of various novel cultural practices, such as film societies, 'serious' film reviewing, film festivals, 'arthouse' cinemas, and the formation of specialized audiences. The research made a small but distinctive contribution to the history of New Zealand intellectual and artistic culture; the study of the dynamics of culture (how a culture develops); and the (international) history of ‘film culture’ and ‘art cinema’.
Since then my research has developed conceptually to include the symbolic role that New Zealand national cinema plays in the cultural imaginary of other countries. My research also extends into the production and distribution of New Zealand films – those produced by the government's documentary National Film Unit (1941-90), as well as others made independently, or with the financial support of the Film Commission.
A transnational dimension also informs my research as I seek to establish what links exist between various Commonwealth representations in documentary films made by the settler societies and former British Dominions of Canada and New Zealand, as well as the Commonwealth of Australia. Such work has also contributed to research into the role that film plays in the cultural imaginary; whether this be national (the work of the NFU in constructing local identities and images of the nation) or international (the way the French imagine New Zealand, specifically, and the 'antipodes', more generally, through film).
21st Century Citizenship
Field of research codes
Art Theory and Criticism (190100): Cinema Studies (190201): Film, Television and Digital Media (190200): Lens-based Practice (190503): Studies In Creative Arts And Writing (190000): Visual Arts and Crafts (190500): Visual Cultures (190104)
Film culture, film criticism, documentary film, the National Film Unit, reception studies and aesthetics.
Project Title: The National Film Unit: A Case Study in National and Transnational Cultural Production
Date Range: 2012 - 2012
Funding Body: Massey University