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Correspondence/Discordance: The Postal Motif in Iberian and Ibero-american Film

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Organizer: Steven Marsh

Co-Organizer: Camila Moreiras

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The epistolary form has a long history in film. In 2006 filmmakers Víctor Erice and Abbas Kiarostami collaborated in the exchange of video postcards. This was followed by the  The Complete Letters: Filmed Correspondence, an itinerant exhibition and subsequent DVD box set of five video dialogues between pairings of mainly Spanish filmmakers and their overseas counterparts.  The experiment raises theoretical questions regarding filmic form and the disturbance of linguistic and affective signs, the division in the route between origin and destination, the diversion or non-arrival of the filmic letter.  Such questions have a particular resonance in relations between films emerging from the Iberian peninsular and those of Latin America.

The dispatches (envois) of the collaborative, cosmopolitan venture of the Filmed Correspondence project are those of envoys of a sort but not of conventional ambassadors. The gap, or the distance inherent in the epistolary format  (much played on in onscreen distantiation techniques, in the complexities of telecommunication, the necessary ellipses), opens up the spaces between origin and place; that is, the gap creates a turbulence surrounding the concept of location and disturbs, for example, the national as a discursive category. Moreover, postal communication, Derrida suggests, implies not only a physical separation between two parties in different places connected by an unpredictable system of relay (“switching points,”  “the placing of posts,” their stages and their staging, their positioning, and their poles) but also an inevitable temporal disequilibrium, a delay in communication, a necessary asynchronization.

Likewise the format of a piece of celluloid, the photogram (as David Wills and Peter Brunette pointed out) enfolds the material properties of film (past/present, audio/visual) within its frame like an envelope. Meanwhile, the stamp or postal seal draws our attention to the staging posts in the transportation of mail and the fragility of the postal connection, subject to the unpredictable violence of legal certification—its stamp of approval, its seal of authority (and authorship)—but also to the unforeseen possibilities of being mislaid, subject to delay, or division, or diversion.  

We welcome proposals for papers (200-250 words) on the following and all related themes by September 23rd: the epistolary form in film, the postal motif as a disturbance of the national allegory, arrival and/or non-arrival of the image, film form and affect, delay and relay, transAtlantic circulation and miscommunication, Portuguese and Luso-American film, citation, gaps in transmission and translation, film and misrecognition, video correspondence, slow cinema, Lacanian approaches to film, etc. For further information contact or


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