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Activist and Revolutionary Film and Media (Founded 2019)
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I: Mission Statement

Since the emergence of the medium, filmmakers have been preoccupied with the relationship between cinema and politics, and across its long history radicals, revolutionaries, and community organizers have explored cinema as a means of thinking, expressing, and inciting social change. The 1960s signify the global explosion of radical filmmakers intent on exploring cinema’s revolutionary capacities through innovative production, distribution, and exhibition practices that built on the efforts of earlier politically-engaged and revolutionary film movements like the Soviet avant-garde and Italian neorealism. A whole host of radical media making accompanied and defined this historical moment – the emergence of the underground press and music, video collectives, pirate radio, and alternative theater to only name a few. As a result, activist and revolutionary film and media gained increasing visibility and importance in helping social movements enact the change they wanted to see.

The subsequent rise of video and digital technologies following in the wake of the global insurgencies of the 1960s and 1970s have enabled more communities to harness film and video making for activist purposes. Indeed, the series of economic and environmental crises and escalating global conflicts that have dominated the twenty-first century, coupled with these new forms of digital cinema and shifts in production, distribution, and exhibition, have undoubtedly precipitated a reinvestment in radical political film, video, and digital media. As such, activist and revolutionary film and video cultures have expanded significantly in recent years along with the study of them. A new generation of film and media scholars have begun to embrace critical frameworks more attuned to engaging with political issues and their accompanying radical media practices, often through rediscovering and repurposing neglected politically engaged film and media studies scholarship from earlier eras. Indeed, given the intensification of an increasingly volatile right-wing extremism and the resurgence of large-scale protest and social unrest, radicalism has once again become a vital lens through which to approach cinema and media, with marxist, anti-colonial, and other revolutionary anti-capitalist frameworks providing critical points of theorization.

Building on this emergent area of study, the Activist and Revolutionary Film and Media Scholarly Interest Group brings together scholars and practitioners interested in the study and production of radical film and media. Reflecting the broad reach of SCMS, the ARFM SIG connects scholars working across film, television, video, new media, video games, comics, radio, and other legacy medias to explore how radical and activist frameworks structure the histories and theories of these various artforms. At the same time, we welcome scholars working in a variety of historical periods, geographical contexts, theoretical perspectives, and methodological approaches. Given that SCMS already hosts multiple panels on activist film and media, the ARFM SIG looks to both formalize and legitimize this area of study and to re-establish radicalism as a key hermeneutic through which to approach the history, theory, and production of film, television, and related media.


II: Goals and Objectives

1) To provide a forum in which scholars and practitioners of activist and revolutionary film and media can discuss and share their research, organize panels and workshops for each year’s conference, network with others interested in the study of political radicalism and media activism, and work together to accomplish the goals and objectives of the group;

2) To promote radicalism and media activism as frameworks for approaching the study of film and media, to further define and expand the theories and methodologies that comprise this mode of inquiry, and to encourage new research and scholarship through this lens;

3) To foster a culture of collaboration, mentorship, and support between scholars working in different media, historical eras, and geographical contexts and between academics at various stages of their career;

4) To encourage interdisciplinary connections between film and media scholars with academics and practitioners in other fields like sociology, communication studies, history, political science, and cultural studies where our shared interests converge in understanding media’s role enacting social change;

5) To organize and schedule a yearly meeting at the SCMS conference where SIG members can gather to share their research, network with other SIG members, participate in SIG-organized activities, and formulate future programs and opportunities for SIG members;

6) To work with the Executive Committee and each year’s SCMS Conference Program Committee as a source of expertise concerning screenings, curatorial projects, translations, publication initiatives, and other events;

7) To work closely with the SCMS Caucuses to facilitate connections between academic research and activism and to strengthen SCMS as a politically engaged organization;

8) To support The Journal of Cinema and Media Studies and other publications to encourage their inclusion of scholarship related to radical film and media, including special issues, translations, dossiers, and interviews;

9) To create opportunities for SIG members to collaborate on special projects such as specially designated panels, joint conferences, plenary participation, workshops, and publishing opportunities beyond SCMS;

10) To create an Activist and Revolutionary Film and Media website, which can eventually serve as a resource for scholars interested in radical film and media.


IV: Bylaws

Article I: Name: The name of this scholarly interest group shall be the Activist and Revolutionary Film and Media Scholarly Interest Group, hereinafter ARFM SIG.

Article II: Purpose: The purpose of the group shall be to provide a forum for scholars and practitioners working in activist and revolutionary film and media to network with each other; share their research and ideas across historical, geographical, and medium-specific boundaries; and provide further opportunities for research, publication, screenings, activist media making, and professional development.

Article III: Membership: Membership shall be open to scholars, practitioners, students, and other persons interested in the study of activist and revolutionary film and media. The members making up the ARFM SIG must be Members of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies who are in good standing.

Article IV: Officers: The ARFM SIG shall elect two (2) of its members to serve as Co-Chairs for staggered terms. The first co-chairs will be elected to a three-year and a two-year term; hereafter terms will be for three (3) years. The ARFM SIG will also elect a Graduate Student Representative for a two (2) year term. Elections will normally take place at the SIG meeting at the annual SCMS conference, and the results of the elections will be promptly communicated to the Board of Directors.

Article V: Duties: Co-Chairs shall submit a request every year to the program Committee of the SCMS Conference for a time and space to meet, as well as funding to support programming. Co-Chairs will prepare regular minutes of meetings for circulation to their members within one month of the meeting. Co-Chairs will submit an annual report on activities for the year and attendance figures for their last meeting to the Board of Directors of SCMS two weeks prior to the annual conference. The Graduate Student Representative will coordinate graduate student issues within the ARFM SIG and share ideas and concerns with the SIG Co-Chairs.

Article VI: Quorum: At the annual meeting of the ARFM SIG the number of members present will constitute a quorum for transaction of business. A vote of the majority of members in attendance at a meeting in which a quorum is present will carry an issue.

Article VII: E-Mail Deliberations and Voting: Business of the ARFM SIG may be transacted by email. When issues are submitted to the members of the ARFM SIG for a vote via e-mail, the members shall have seven (7) business days to respond. The subject line of the e-mail shall contain the word "vote" to alert the members to the urgency of a response. Two-thirds of the membership must cast ballots to constitute a quorum. A vote of the majority of members casting ballots will carry an issue.



Sarah Hamblin, co-chair
Chris Robé, co-chair


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Contact Us

Society for Cinema and Media Studies
640 Parrington Oval
Wallace Old Science Hall, Room 300
Norman, OK 73019
(405) 325-8075