CFP Conference 'Screening Censorship: New Histories, Perspectives, and Theories on Film and Screen Censorship'


CFP Conference

Screening Censorship: New Histories, Perspectives, and Theories on Film and Screen Censorship

Ghent, Belgium, October 16-17, 2020

Academic keynote speakers:

Professor Richard Maltby (Flinders University, Australia)

Professor Linda Williams (University of California, Berkeley, USA)

Professional keynote speakers:

Manuel Mozos (filmmaker, Portugal)

Rachel Talalay (film director/producer, US/Canada)


Throughout the history of film and cinema, censorship has existed everywhere–in all kinds of shapes, colors, and dimensions. The act of restricting the free production, circulation, screening and consumption of movies was never unique to authoritarian regimes. Age restrictions, film cuttings, bans, industry discouragements, and other types of censorial interventions also occurred in countries where media freedom and the freedom of speech were and are highly regarded principles. Censorship has had far-reaching implications on filmmakers, distributors, exhibitors, and audiences across generations, and across genres. Hard, strict institutional censorship often came alongside implied or ‘suggested’ forms of soft censorship, including, importantly, the self-censorship or audiences disciplined into particular viewership positions.


Today, soft and hard censorship co-exist in even more fluid forms. The acts of banning, regulating, trimming, and tailoring films for ‘harmless’ consumption, by bureaucracies, pressure groups and activists, are frequently embedded within wider debates about media use. But film nonetheless remains a ‘banner issue’, a point of reference for what constitutes screen censorship.


From the long tradition of investigating film censorship onwards, this conference aims at reflecting upon recent changes in policies, strategies and practices of film censorship, both in the past and in today’s media landscape. Amongst the many questions, this conference asks:

  • What are film history’s lessons from censorship?
  • What are the contours of censorship today?
  • Is censorship still a useful concept? How has it changed?
  • How do new or renewed sensitivities influence censorship today, in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, ageism, ableism?
  • How do censorships compare, across time, space, genre, and technologies?
  • What is the role of social media in debates about censorship? How do we define film censorship in times of massive content moderation on social media platforms?
  • How does film censorship work on different screens: in the theatre, on television, on in-flight, mobile, across multitudes of digital screens?
  • What are the ‘aesthetics’ of censorship today and what is the function of pastiche, subversion, ‘just joking’, and other kinds of boundary-challenging work?
  • What do recent controversies and provocations reveal about the evolution of censorship?
  • What is the relationship between incidents and interventions in production culture, artistic integrity, and censorship?
  • What is censorship’s relationship with ‘hardcore’ and explicit material, past and now? If censorship is not always a simple matter of repression from above, but of conflicting discursive constructions arising from below, how do we account for the history of the emergence of hard-core pornography beyond thinking of it as the liberalization of censorship?


Screening Censorship also invites reflections on the changing research environment:

  • What are the tools for studying censorship today?
  • How have digital technologies affected the study of censorship?
  • What is the influence of new film and cinema historiography in exploring practices of distributing, screening, consuming and audience’s experiences of film and screen censorship?


Screening Censorship aims to showcase academic and industry voices on the issue of the shifting practices of censoring films on the different screens. The four keynote addresses confirmed for the symposium reflect that goal. The conference is organized in tandem with the 47th International Film Fest Ghent (FIAPF accredited, Variety’s top-50 must-attend), and aims to examine how film and cinema censorship, as a concept and as a practice (ad hoc and post hoc), functions 20 years into the 21st Century.


Screening Censorship welcomes contributions for 20-minute presentations from scholars, artists and practitioners whose work pertains to topics and themes of film and screen censorship. We are seeking abstracts for individual papers and panels of three or four contributors on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Theories, concepts, and discourses on film censorship, control, discipline, silencing, content moderation
  • New film censorship policies, strategies, tactics, practices
  • The aesthetics of film censorship, subversion, pastiche
  • Activism and resistance
  • Film censorship, audiences and reception
  • Institutions and power
  • Comparison, entangled history, histoire croisée
  • Film censorship and the museum: archives, heritage, platforms
  • Artistic integrity, interventions, re-use
  • Film censorship cases, controversies, panics
  • Digital tools and new methods for doing film censorship research today


Please send abstracts of 300 words and a 100-word biography to Daniel Biltereyst ( and Ernest Mathijs () by June 15th, 2020, and address any queries to the same addresses. Abstracts should be submitted following this order: (a) author(s); (b) affiliation; (c) email address; (d) title of abstract; (e) body of abstract; (f) bibliography. E-mails should carry the subject line: Screening Censorship Abstract Submission.


Conference sponsored by Digital Cinema Studies (DICIS, FWO Flanders) in collaboration with The Centre for Cinema and Media Studies (UBC) and the Center for Cinema and Media Studies (UGent).


Conference venue: Film-Plateau, Paddenhoek 3, Ghent, Belgium.

Conference website: (under construction)

 Film Fest Gent Logo

DICIS logo

CIMS logo