Keynote Speakers

Samuel Maoz: From war trauma to a personal film

My talk will address how I processed my broken memories into a cinematographic drama, and converted my feelings into scenes. I will approach the following issues:

– The trauma (My first killing);

– The war trick (Why we easily kill in a war situation; war and moral: the impossible-unnatural connection);

– The after-effect (The repression, influence, but mainly why I didn’t speak for 25 years – also personal but mainly social and political reasons);

– My motivation – The second Lebanon war – and how I processed my trauma to an effective anti war film in a post-conflict time;

– The Israeli audience reactions as a reflection of our short history and traumas;

– Should an anti war film, based on true events, be objective and political?


Samuel Maoz is an Israeli film director. His 2009 film, Lebanon, won the Golden Lion at the 66th Venice International Film Festival. Maoz was born in Tel Aviv. At the age of 20, he was a gunner in one of the first Israeli tanks to enter Lebanon in the 1982 Lebanon War. After the war, he trained as a cameraman at the Beit Zvi theater school, and did art direction in film and television productions.

As a director, Maoz was associated with the production of documentary films, directing the ARTE production Total Eclipse (2000) with Yevgenya Dodina. In 2007, Maoz began working on Lebanon, his first feature film. The script, based on Maoz’s personal experiences, describes the traumatic experiences of a four-man Israeli tank crew in a Lebanese village early in the war.


João Canijo (Porto, 1957) is a Portuguese film director. He studied History at the University of Porto between 1978 and 1980.  He started his film career in the 80’s, having been assistant director to Manoel de Oliveira, Wim Wenders, Alain Tanner, and Werner Schroeter. He also worked as stage director, staging plays by David Mamet and Eugene O’Neill.

Amongst his many works is Noite Escura (Dark Night, 2004), which premiered at Cannes that year and was selected as Oscar candidate for Best Foreign Film. It won the Portuguese Golden Globe for best film.

In 2010 he directed Fantasia Lusitana, a documentary feature which addresses Portugal’s ambivalent status of neutrality during WW2 and the country’s political, social and cultural background through archival footage and individual testimonies.

João Canijo will participate in the Round Table and discuss his film after its screening at the Portuguese Cinematheque.



Thomas Elsaesser (Amsterdam/Yale University): Paradoxes and Parapraxes: On the Limits of Representation in Post-Conflict Situations

 Is the cinema a useful medium for post-conflict situations, when it is less a matter of showing “how it really was” (for either side), as to be able to accommodate conflicting, even radically incompatible realities within the same frame of reference or even within the same field of representation? This means that “representation” itself – and especially the trope of “representation of …” as it constitutes our cultural studies approach to identity and the articulation of diversity – may have reached its limits. Are there other ways of figuring incompatible truths, and what does it mean to use a one-way medium like film in order to inaugurate a dialogue that all parties may consider impossible? This paper will pose some of the questions, and suggest at least one way of understanding the problem differently, which – as some optimists claim – is already the first step towards an answer.

Thomas Elsaesser is Professor Emeritus at the University of Amsterdam and since 2006 Visiting Professor at Yale University. Published and translated in some fifteen languages, his interests include film history and media historiography, Early Cinema, European cinema and Hollywood, digital media, cultural memory and installation art.

Among his books as (co-)editor are Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? (1998), The BFI Companion to German Cinema (1999), The Last Great American Picture Show: Hollywood films in the 1970s (2004) and Harun Farocki – Working on the Sightlines (2004).

His most recent books as author include: Studying Contemporary American Film (2002, with Warren Buckland),  R. W. Fassbinder: Un cineaste allemand (2005), Terrorisme, Mythes et Representations (2005), European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood (2005), Terror und Trauma (2007), Le cinema et les sens (2011, with Malte Hagener) and The Persistence of Hollywood (2011).

Isabel Capeloa Gil: Seeing Voice. On the Cinematic Politics of Representation

London, 1939: A King speaks on the national broadcasting service and a country gears up for war. Japan, 1945: A god becomes human as millions of Japanese listen in awe and disbelief to the voice of Emperor Hirohito transmitted across the radio. Radically different though they are, the two events uncannily testify to the challenges faced by the modern homo mediatus, deemed to rely on technology to be, i.e. to have a voice, whilst evincing through the royal characters’ speech flaws the crisis in power and the pervasive sense of lack that disclose the crisis of modern subjectivity in the aftermath of this modern Ur-narrative of war.

Drawing on the visuality of voice in two films that have recently addressed the leader’s challenged speech performance, Alexander Sokurov’s The Sun (2005) and Tom Hooper’s (2011) The King’s Speech, the talk follows the turn to embodiment in film perception to argue that more than a metaphor of a foundational lack in the subjectivity of power, voice whilst articulating cinema’s multimodal sensoriality, becomes an ambivalent element that not only discloses the wound in self-representation but works to suture it as well. Voice is taken here as the sign of a wider embodiment of the social, the sexual and the political, as Mladen Dolar argues, both a sense and a metaphor that supports the production of meaning on the crossroads between the invisibility of silence and the visible sensoriality of the utterance. Yet, and considering that in film the relation between the visible and the audible is not without tensions, George VI’s stutter or Hirohito’s speech flaw are also perceptual interruptions that the visual force field of cinema works to contain. By looking at the narrative and cinematic performance of the challenged voice in films dealing with the preparation and aftermath of conflict, the talk will discuss the meaning of the visual performance of voice in film and how it interacts with the wider role played by broadcasted voice in the construction of subjectivity during and after the Second World War. It further contends that the crisis of voice is largely indicative of the foundational lack in sovereign subjectivity in the 20th century, but also that beyond the 1940’s, it is a sign of the wider crisis of political voice in the conflict-torn western world after 9/11.

Isabel Capeloa Gil is Associate Professor at the Catholic University of Portugal and holds a Ph.D. in German Language and Culture from that same university. She is currently the Dean of the School of Human Sciences and coordinator of the Lisbon Consortium. Her main research areas include cultural theory, visual culture, gender studies, and German literature and culture.

She is the author of Mythographies. Figurations of Antigone, Cassandra and Medea in German 20th-Century Drama (Lisbon, 2007), and Visual Literacy. On the Disquietude of Images (Lisbon, 2011).

She is co-editor of Landscapes of Memory Envisaging the Past/Remembering the Future (2004); The Colour of Difference: On German Contemporary Culture (2005);  European Identity/Identities in Europe (2009); Fluid Cartographies – New Modernities (2010) and Rahmenwechsel Kulturwissenschaften (2010). She has edited Poéticas da Navegação (2007) and Fleeting, Floating, Flowing: Water Writing and Modernity (2008). She is also the editor of the international peer-reviewed journal Comunicação e Cultura (Communication and Culture).

She has been visiting Professor at the University of Wales (Lampeter), at the National University of Ireland (Galway), at the Universität des Saarlandes (Germany), at the University of Hamburg, as well as at the University of Pennsylvania, Western Michigan University (USA) and at the University of Venice, Ca’ Foscari (Italy). She is Honorary Research Fellow at the IGRS, University of London.