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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, July 31, 2014

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In Movies & TV

Explore the global trends of film at the Center for International Education's "World Cinemas, Global Networks" conference.

International conference connects UWM to the global film network


Since 1999, the Center for International Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has brought some of the greatest scholarly minds specializing in a wide range of topics together for their annual conference.

This year, a handful of the world's top experts in the world of film and media studies will converge for the "World Cinemas, Global Networks" conference, held April 27-28 in UWM's Hefter Conference Center, 3271 N. Lake Drive.

"Part of the reason we wanted to do the cinema conference was that for the last 12 years we've supported and run various film festivals – the annual French film festival, Asian cinema festival – lots of festivals, but we've never looked at or surveyed what's happening across the globe," said Professor Patrice Petro, vice provost and director of the CIE. "That's the aim of this conference."

"World Cinemas, Global Networks" will take an in-depth look at film from around the world, as well as the themes seen throughout the medium of global cinema.

"We're not just looking at the cinema world but the world as reflected in cinema, and what it tells us about the world today," said Petro. "It's bringing together some of the finest scholars and critics in the world to talk about what the state of cinema is today.

"For the general public that have an interest in either the world or in movies, this would be a very unique occasion to meet and hear from scholars."

Among the scheduled speakers are Hamid Naficy of Northwestern University, Adrian Martin of Monash University in Australia and film critic and writer Jonathan Rosenbaum, in addition to several UWM film experts.

"The best way to do it is to invite the best people," said Petro. "What we usually do is we work with a group of people and say, 'Who's doing interesting work?' In this case we wanted to make sure that we were looking at cinema worldwide so that we weren't just having scholars from Europe, for instance."

The conference has recruited a total of 18 speakers and 6 moderators from the United States, Australia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Five of the featured speakers are also from UWM.

"We invite faculty on the UWM campus who are interested in the topic or who have expertise in the topic to participate," said Petro. "One little known fact in the area is that Milwaukee and UWM was really the place where modern film theory was promoted and built in the '70s and early '80s.

"This conference – and in fact many of the conferences that we've done at the center –have tried to prolong that tradition of very interdisciplinary work in film and media studies."

For this year's conference, the CIE partnered with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. It's organized by Petro, Tami Williams from UWM's English department and Elena Gorfinkel of UWM's Art History department.

"I'm a cinema studies scholar myself. In fact, I'm past president of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the largest scholarly organization in the world devoted to film and media studies, so obviously I have an interest personally in this," said Petro. "The two other scholars who are working with me are in the fellows program here, and the theme this year was networks. They particularly were looking at cinema networks, so this year's topic is more focused on cinema."

Although this conference is film-centric, past themes have joined international education with a wide selection of other subjects.

"The themes vary, but they're broad, large, interdisciplinary themes," said Petro. "For instance, last year we did a conference called 'Eating, Cooking, and Culture: The History and Politics of Food.' We've had conferences on rethinking security, on global cities and an array of other themes. Next year we're working on peace and we're doing a conference on peace-building."

Admission to "World Cinemas, Global Networks," which run from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, is free and open to the public.


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