The Film and Media Studies Colloquium [Film- und Medienwissenschaftliches Kolloquium – FFK] is an institution all its own within German-language media studies. This independent specialist conference has been hosted by a different university every year since 1988—and 2022 saw it held in Austria for the very first time: the Film and Media Studies faculty at the mdw’s Film Academy Vienna recently hosted the FKK’s 35th edition, which took place online from 31 March to 2 April 2022.
This year’s FFK placed its main emphasis on current research tendencies among non-professorial teaching staff with an eye to fleshing out themes relevant to the film and media studies field at large. Master’s degree students, doctoral candidates, and postdoctoral researchers, in particular, were invited to introduce their projects and research themes, a range of work that included master’s degree theses, dissertations, third party-funded projects, and more.
The FFK is open to both new and proven modes of thought and work, including those situated at the interface between research and audio-visual art and those that involve artistic research or a combination of academic and artistic research. What’s more, the 35th FFK in Vienna deliberately did without a specific theme in the interest of encouraging interdisciplinary exchange.
This year’s contributions reflected a broad spectrum of film and media studies topics. Those from the realm of film studies ranged from research on early cinematic history to various currently relevant facets of non-European and post-migrant cinema. Documentary forms and artistic research as well as cinematic practice were further emphases. Numerous contributions focused on representations of gender and sex, as had already been the case in recent years. And with the mdw hosting the FKK, it was unsurprising but indeed a contrast to previous colloquia that a number of contributions featured specifically Austrian tie-ins. One noteworthy highlight in this respect was a panel discussion devoted to the Austrian film and media studies landscape. The mdw’s film and media studies staff likewise introduced their own research and publication projects, some of them projects involving artistic research.
Alongside the focus on film studies, media studies contributions likewise featured prominently in the programme—addressing matters such as the roles played by smartphones in migratory flows, YouTube genres, and theoretical aspects of visual communication. Workshops, classic individual presentations on topics such as newer platforms like TikTok or the phenomenon of gamification in knowledge transfer, and a performance lecture completed the programme.
The colloquium’s exchange among specialists was rounded out by a substantial range of supporting events, likewise realised online, that invited participants to network across and between their various disciplines.
Each evening, this year’s FFK team—consisting Barbara Wolfram, Christina Wintersteiger, and Bianca Jasmina Rauch from Film Academy Vienna plus Daniel Gönitzer of the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies at the University of Vienna and Melanie Mika of the Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt—invited participants to come together virtually. The first evening featured exchange regarding open science and science communication with Alena Strohmaier, Franzis Kabisch, and Julia Grillmayr. Academic podcasts, websites, blogs, and Instagram as possible channels via which to convey one’s own work and findings to a broad audience were the focus of this exchange, which was intended to encourage the employment of open science-type practices as well as mutual networking.
The second day’s activities were likewise concluded by an evening talk with guests, for which the FFK had invited three Film Academy Vienna filmmakers to speak about their short documentaries. Activism in action, reflection on one’s own body, and family dynamics were topics that demonstrated just how differently documentary approaches can be realised and how the private is always of political significance. The featured documentaries were Gleichschritt by Marie-Thérèse Zumbtobel, The Gallery by Cordula Rieger, and Me paso los dias by Lukas Schöffel.