The following films will be screened during the conference:

Thursday 9 September

Jack Shaheen: Reel Bad Arabs

Reel Bad Arabs takes a devastating tour of the American cinematic landscape, moving from the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters to reveal an astonishing pattern of slanderous Arab stereotyping. The documentary isolates and examines America’s most persistent Arab caricatures, from oversexed Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and blood-thirsty ‘terrorists’, providing striking insights into the origin of these images, their disturbing similarities to anti-Semitic and other racist and ethnocentrist stereotypes, and their resurgence and political resonance during key moments of crisis in U.S. history.

By inspiring us to reflect critically on the social and political consequences of Hollywood’s long love affair with Arab villainy and buffoonery, Reel Bad Arabs challenges us in the end to envision counter-narratives that do justice to the complexity and humanity of Arab people, and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture.

Friday 10 September

Holland Wilde: Cultural Farming

Cultural Farming is a metaphor for an action event.... it signifies gathering media seeds; planting for personal media empowerment; growing critical media cognition for a participatory democracy.  Indeed, our world is an unhealthy garden of endlessly-streaming manufactured images; too much is cultivated inhumanely and unfit for human consumption.  And so, harvesting new proficiencies in televisual literacy is vital sustenance.  Help weed-out mediamonger manipulation by critically re-negotiating TV’s grammars.  Harvest diverse forms of critical media discourse to enrich social fecundity and intelligibility.

The purpose of this project is to illustrate possibilities for critical response in a mediated world, and most importantly to foment deeper public media discourse about how media makers tell our socio-cultural stories to us.  In short, common TV/media practices can only tell certain kinds of stories, and only in certain kinds of ways.  This is a massive communicative problem in a multi-dimensional media world.  And so, how we respond through our media to those communicating to us can help to inform all media production.  Let’s respond to media by critically reemploying its own language and technique.  Let’s retell media’s unreflexive stories back to their makers, in order to challenge cultural production.

Saturday 11 September

Cynthia Weber: I am an American

On September 21, 2001 – 10 days after 9/11 – the American Advertizing Council launched its ‘I am an American’ campaign, featuring 30 and 60 second Public Service Announcements broadcast on US television in which a montage of US citizens of various ages, races, religions, and ethnicities look directly into the camera and declare ‘I am an American’.

The Ad Council campaign offered a glossy portrait of a post-9/11 US, but a grittier view is available to those who take the time to look more closely. Supported by grants from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, this film does just that, exploring how diverse Americans engaged questions of citizenship and identity in their everyday lives following the collective national trauma of 11 September 2001.  Cynthia Weber explores through video the lived experiences of those who say "I am an American" in a different voice.