Day 1: Wednesday 22 Feb

RMIT University, Building 80, Level 10, Room 17

Fun and Fury in Fat City

Professor Lesley Stern, Professor Emeritus, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Introduced by Assoc. Professor Constantine Verevis (Monash University)

A personally inflected, avowedly partisan account of Melbourne film culture in the period lasting from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties. Was there anything particular about Melbourne, or ‘Fat City’ as Adrian Martin has called it, anything that distinguished it from what was going on in Sydney and other Australian cities? And has that period persisted in some way, left an imprint, a legacy, even a curse? The comparative spirit of this paper extends from Melbourne to larger questions, like: what constitutes a film culture in general? And how does ‘then’ compare to ‘now’—in Melbourne and elsewhere.

Professor Lesley Stern is an internationally renowned film scholar and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She has been a key figure in defining the force and direction of Australian screen studies and has had an enormous impact on Melbourne screen cultures during her time here in the 1970s and 80s. She has had the same degree of influence internationally, where she has held prestigious teaching positions and received top research grants, such as a Getty Fellowship. Stern, born and raised in Zimbabwe, has taught in a number of universities around the globe (including the University of Zimbabwe; Glasgow University; La Trobe and Murdoch Universities; and The University of New South Wales) before moving to UCSD in 2000. Stern’s work spans both theory and production and reflects her strong commitment to interdisciplinarity. In particular, her research on the complex relationships of bodies and screens, and her innovative interdisciplinary collaborations with practitioners across filmmaking, video art, photography, creative writing, design, painting, theatre and performance directly relate to key conference concerns. Her work is also remarkable for the ways in which she renews the vital connections between theory and practice. It has been highly influential in the areas of film theory and history, performance, photography, cultural history, feminism, ecocriticism, and fictocritical writing. She is the author of Dead and Alive: The Body as Cinematic Thing, The Smoking Book and The Scorsese Connection, and co-editor of Falling For You: Essays on Cinema and Performance. Her essays have appeared in esteemed journals including Screen, M/F, Camera Obscura, Film Reader, Image Forum, Traffic, Emergences, and Critical Inquiry.

Professor Stern’s presence and participation at Screening Melbourne are supported by the Ian Potter Foundation and the Centre for Communication, Politics and Culture, RMIT University.