Symposium on Arctic Cinema

Luis Rocha Antunes's picture
Call for Papers
June 30, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Environmental History / Studies, Literature, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Film and Film History

The Department of Art and Media Studies (Institutt for kunst- og medievitenskap) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Cinema Scandinavia invite proposals for presentations at its forthcoming two-day symposium on Arctic Cinema, to be held between the 21st and 22nd of November 2016 at The Faculty of Humanities, Trondheim, Norway.


Please send us your proposals to and, including the following details:

1. Name, institutional affiliation, and email address
2. Title and abstract, with at least three literature references
3. Brief biographical statement.

Please note: The deadline for proposals is midnight (GMT) 30st June, 2016. Please visit website for more details and information.


Film and literature scholars Anna Westerståhl Stenport (University of Illinois, USA) and Scott MacKenzie (Queen’s University, Canada) have recently authored and edited several publications where they bring forth an innovative and original concept of Arctic Cinema. In their work, they trace the historical context of Arctic Cinema and map down different cinematic approaches with the unifying element of the Arctic. Especially in their edited volumes entitled Films on Ice: Cinemas of the Arctic (Edinburgh University Press, 2014) and Arctic Environmental Modernities: From the Age of Polar Exploration to the Era of the Anthropocene (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016; Lill-Ann Körber, Scott MacKenzie & Anna W. Stenport, eds. ), but also in their co-authored chapter entitled “All That’s Frozen Melts Into Air – Arctic Cinemas at the End of the World”, the two scholars reveal fascinating connections between Nordic film and how the ecology of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions have found expression in cinema through periods of history such as the Cold War period and also how the so called Arctic Cinema constitutes a cinematic imprint of the geography, climate and culture of the Nordic regions associated with Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Greenland.

This two-day symposium seeks to take advantage of this extremely timely topic of research. Our goal is to gather scholars with research interests connected to Nordic forms of cinema with the aim of promoting a discussion and presenting this idea of Arctic Cinema in relation to an ecologic ethnography of the Nordic regions. The Arctic has recently been subject of interest within scientific fields. It has not received the same degree of attention from film studies. This is, however, changing, as the works mentioned above show, and we believe it is imperative to include film studies in the academic discussions leading to a deeper understanding of the Arctic, since it is our conviction that film has a potential to make use of its aesthetic and experiential qualities to trace the identity of the Arctic in angles that can appeal to film scholars, anthropologists, literature scholars and other fields of cultural studies.

Taking on Stenport and MacKenzie’s work, we could say that Arctic Cinema gives expression to an eco-ethnography that represents, through different film genres and modes, how local and regional cultures but also geography and climate have been depicted by film and translated into film aesthetics. Some directors, such as Jan Troell and Knut Erik Jensen, have revealed the Arctic in captivating new ways, showing that the Arctic is not about snow and ice alone but about how local cultures relate to those sensory elements. Moreover, the Arctic has a history that is not exclusively environmental but is cultural and ethnographic too. There are numerous aspects why Arctic Cinema is such a strong and emergent line of research on the fields of film and ethnographic studies. The main reason is that it results from a confluence of elements that function in two ways. One one hand, the Arctic Cinema serves as an ethnographic investigation of its local communities. One the other hand, it projects those cultural and ethnographic elements onto a global context. Film is a privileged medium to record many of the experiential aspects of the Arctic and it is through the authorial language of some of the directors from the Arctic Cinema that those experiential aspects find a global projection and reach audiences that may never have been acquainted with the Arctic but are nevertheless exposed to it in its cinematic form.

Due to the privileged geographical position that NTNU, as an institution, occupies within the Nordic context, we have managed to establish a number of contacts and expand a considerable network with scholars that have been dealing with films made above the Arctic circle. We believe this event will be an opportunity to bring them together and have them share ideas so that new and stimulating projects may potentially arise from this event, such as the publication of a special journal issue at Cinema Scandinavia. One of those opportunities is the pursuit of further publications within the topic, where the ethnographic and cultural details of the Arctic Cinema can be sketched down in deeper and more thorough ways. We are hoping to have one guest speaker from each of the Nordic regions of Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Finland and Sweden. Keynote speakers Anna Stenport and Scott MacKenzie have their presence confirmed in the symposium.

Contact Info: 

Luis Rocha Antunes, University of Kent and Norwegian Univeristy of Science and Technology

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