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Réappropriation, inclusion, simulation

De l’usage des emprunts dans la forme courte au cinéma

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Published on Tuesday, August 05, 2014


The aim of this conference will be to define the shapes and roles of borrowing devices in short films. Several orientations will be approached in this examination of these devices, dealing with aesthetics, history, narrative form and culture.




As a versatile medium, short film has always stood for an open field for innovation and experience, whether for full-fledged or beginning filmmakers. The history of film form at large testifies to a specific tendency to “borrow” from other films or other film genres in order to build fictional narratives. For instance, documentaries often resort to other modes of cinematic creation such us newsreels. Fictional narrative cinema may also include and reinterpret sequences extracted from other filmic works, whether fictional of documentary. Such is the case of course in contemporary experimental films, in video art, in propaganda films but also in more classical pieces from the golden age of Hollywood studios or in some feature films. The latter category is exemplified by Arizona Dream (Emir Kusturica, 1993), which quotes filmic sequences from Hitchcock, Scorsese or Coppola.

These borrowing devices may appear as paradoxical in the case of short films in so far as this form already in itself limits the scope of the filmic author’s expression—however questionable the concept of author has become from a critical viewpoint in cinema nowadays—which would call for a quest for this expression rather than for the choice of devices that further reduce temporally the “personal” voice of the director, such as extrinsic film fragments used as quotes. Yet these borrowing devices seem rather frequent in short films, in form experimental as well as classical. Recent examples point to the relevance of this theme in contemporary short films, which may use historical archives or newsreels as in Even if she had been a criminal (Jean-Gabriel Périot, 2006), or found footage, lost film reels discovered by a stranger to the history they tell and around which the narrative is built by the editing process, as in A Story for the Modlins (Sergio Oksman, 2012) ou Sur la Plage de Belfast (Henri-François Imbert, 1996).

Main themes

Several main orientations will constitute privileged approaches to the topic.

            * To what extent do short films re-appropriate extant narrative fragments or remembrances to integrate them in a global narrative, whether fictional of non fictional? In Who By Water (Bill Morrison, 2007), a film that juxtaposes footage elements focusing on various shots of travelers embarking on transatlantic liners, the underlying narrative thread is constructed through and beyond the mere accretion of images. Borrowing devices may then develop a personal discourse from the “image-maker” that oversteps the intrinsic value of the chosen fragments that are integrated in the filmic texture.

            * The borrowed parts may work as a point of departure, an extrinsic narrative kernel  around which the film articulates a specific interpretation of hermeneutic concern. In A Story for the Modlins we are shown an initial sequence focusing on the role of Elmer Modlin as an extra in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and around this sequence is reconstructed, as a comment, relying on the Modlin family pictures and family film sequences, the true story of the Modlins who decided after the shooting of Polanski’s film to hide themselves for thirty years in a flat in Madrid, living in almost constant darkness with their son. The Marina experiment (2009) by Marina Lutz also questions and stages the exploitation of audiovisual or film sources or pictures to build an autobiographical narrative. In this case, the borrowing devices constitute the origin of the filmic discourse, an origin that may prove unaccountable or definitely alien to the global filmic texture that tries to explain it). The place of the borrowed sequences (whether they are scattered throughout the film or concentrated in an autonomous sequence is no doubt essential to define the way it is meant to signify within the film at large.

            * Borrowing may also refer to the use of fake sequences as in the case of mockumentaries which present as genuine historical archives audiovisual sequences that were specifically constructed for the film. A famous case is Peter Watkins’s The Forgotten Faces (1961) which is a reconstitution in the Canterbury region of the Budapest 1956 uprising and of the Russian intervention that ensued, without any clear hint at the reconstituted status of the sequences. Borrowing  from the newsreel technique is here used to build a fictional work that flaunts itself as genuine, and which consequently questions our adhesion to film images in a reflexive outlook.

            * Finally, borrowing may be dissociated from any narrative aim and focus on editing effects so as to produce a specific kind of aesthetics through the combination of borrowed sequences. In Light is Calling (Bill Morrison, 2004), for instance, sequences extracted from another film, The Bells (James Young, 1926), are edited together and go through a process of visual twisting that makes it hard for the spectator to recognize them as the source of the short film but that means to create a particular aesthetic experience through the distortion of the primary meaning attached to the borrowed sequences.

            This conference is organized with the support of the organizing committee of the international short film festival in Clermont-Ferrand. It is meant to establish a dialogue between academic approaches and the perspectives of short film professionals.

Scientific committee

  • Christophe Gelly (UBP-CELIS),
  • Caroline Lardy (UBP-CHEC),
  • Gilles Rémillet (Paris Ouest-Nanterre-HAR) ;
  • Jérôme Ters (Sauve qui peut le Court-métrage)

Submission guidelines

The proposals (between 300 and 500 words) should be addressed 

before 31st octobre 2014

to the two organisers at the following addresses: Caroline.LARDY@univ-bpclermont.fr and Christophe.GELLY@univ-bpclermont.fr 


  • Baecque Antoine de, « 1955-1965 : faut-il croire au court métrage ? », dans Claire Vassé et Jacky Évrard (dir.), Cent pour cent court : cent films pour cent ans de cinéma français, Côté court, Pantin, 1995
  • BLOEMHEUVEL Marente, GULDULDEMOND Jaap, FOSSATI Giovanna, Found Footage: Cinema Exposed, Amsterdam University Press, 2012
  • Brenez Nicole et Lebrat Christian (dir.), Jeune, Dure et Pure ! une histoire du cinéma d’avant-garde et expérimental en France, Cinémathèque française/Mazzotta, 2001
  • CUGIER Alphonse et Patrick Louguet, Impureté(s) cinématographique(s), L'Harmattan, 2007
  • Évrard Jacky et Kermabon Jacques (dir.), Une encyclopédie du court métrage français, Festival Côté court/Yellow Now, 2004.
  • Kermabon Jacques, « Côté “court” », dans Claude Beylie (dir.), Une histoire du cinéma français, Larousse, 2000
  • Noguez Dominique, « Trente ans de cinéma expérimental en France (1950-1980) », dans Éloge du cinéma, seconde édition refondue et augmentée, Paris Expérimental, 1999


  • Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, - 4 rue Ledru
    Clermont-Ferrand, France (63)


  • Friday, October 31, 2014


  • court-métrage, archives, emprunt, fiction documentaire


  • Christophe Gelly
    courriel : christophe [dot] gelly [at] uca [dot] fr
  • Caroline Lardy
    courriel : caroline [dot] lardy [at] uca [dot] fr

Information source

  • Christophe Gelly
    courriel : christophe [dot] gelly [at] uca [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Réappropriation, inclusion, simulation », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, August 05, 2014, https://calenda.org/295329

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