Every Age is a Canterbury Pilgrimage

Powell and Pressburger’s
‘A Canterbury Tale: 1944 and 2024’
14th-15th June 2024
Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Christ Church University is delighted to announce the Conference ‘Every Age is a Canterbury Pilgrimage’ to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Powell and Pressburger’s ‘A Canterbury Tale’. The conference will celebrate the breadth, significance, and relevance of Powell and Pressburger’s ‘A Canterbury Tale’ with a two-day conference planned for 14 and 15 June 2024. The conference will place the film as central to the concerns of the mid C20 and to issues and understandings central to our own times alongside its contribution to film history, its links with contemporary and past filmmaking and its influence on creative productions across the visual and other arts. We will also use the conference as a platform to stimulate the development of an edited collection focussed on the film.

Keynote Speaker: Ian Christie

Ian Christie is a film and media historian and curator, currently Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck, University of London and teaching at the UK National Film and Television School. Working at the British Film Institute din the 1970s and 80s, he organised the first full-scale Powell-Pressburger retrospective at the National Film Theatre in 1978. This provided a template for similar retrospectives in Locarno, New York and Paris, and was accompanied by an edited booklet Powell, Pressburger and Others. In 1985, he wrote Arrows of Desire: The Films and Powell and Pressburger, commissioned to mark Powell’s 80th birthday, and helped coordinate the first restoration of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. In 2008 he co-edited with Andrew Moor The Cinema of Michael Powell: International Perspectives on an English Film-Maker. He has been involved in many television programmes and video releases of Powell-Pressburger films, and most recently contributed to The Cinema of Powell and Pressburger: Romantic Imaginations, as well as the 2023 Bologna Cinema Ritrovato Powell retrospective.

Other curatorial and publishing projects have included early film, in a series co-produced for BBC Television, The Last Machine, with Terry Gilliam, and a 2019 book Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema; and books on Scorsese, Gilliam and Soviet cinema. In 2023, he co-directed an essay film, A Trip to Tetlapayac, about Eisenstein in Mexico. His lectures on Powell and Pressburger for Gresham College, are available at https://www.gresham.ac.uk/watch-now/series/worlds-powell-and-pressburger

Topics for papers, visual presentations and film essays might include, but are not limited to:

Pilgrimage, Myth, History

William Blake suggested every age is a Canterbury pilgrimage, universal and spiritual odyssey, repetitions retellings and life as quest in film.

The Neo-Romantic vision and its contemporary survival

The romantic visionary landscape tradition meets European Modernism, mysticism, surrealism, hybridity, pan-romanticism, and otherness.

War and War in Europe then and now

Filmic and other responses to trauma, death, resistance, ideology, effort and sacrifice propaganda, control, defeats and victories, the function and subversion of film as propaganda in wartime.

Landscape and Imagination

The landscape as character, as power and presence and nature and the non-human as agency.

Dream and Nightmare

Film and lived experience as vision, reverie, arcadia, dystopia, escape, fantasy, allegory and nightmare.

Shifting Identities Englishness, Gender, Class, Race

Shifting identities, flux, transformation, emergence and permanent revolution in film.

Displacement and Exile

Strangers, foreigners, refugees, wanderers, the lost and the found in film.

Archaeology and Film

Archaeology, palimpsest and history as themes and metaphor in film.

Production Studies

Writing, collaboration, archival studies and authorship. Set design and the mechanisms of production: costume, editing, sound, image.
Here at CCCU we have run a successful film department since 1980 and have a long history of film events including screenings, exhibitions, and masterclass workshops. We have a small Michael Powell archive and have worked with the BFI in the past to, amongst other events, facilitate a major exhibition on ‘A Canterbury Tale’ in 2004. We have close contact with Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell (she is a fellow of our institution) and has presented editing masterclasses at the University. Our main film building is named after Michael Powell who was born just outside Canterbury.

How to submit

Abstracts/proposals of 300 words inclusive of an indicative bibliography and short biography should be submitted to ACT@canterbury.ac.uk by 31 October 2023. Please note we cannot accept abstracts/proposals for the conference after this deadline. Thanks, The Conference Team!