Film Festivals and Counter-hegemony: Radical Screening Practices in the Neoliberal City


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research focuses on the counter-hegemonic spatial and cultural reproduction of film festivals. Specifically, it investigates the extent to which film festivals produce spaces of resistance to neoliberalism & the current formation of capitalism while operating within the spatial, temporal and ideological boundaries of the contemporary neoliberal city. Using a critical framework that combinesthe public sphere and colonisation theories of Jargen Habermas with David Harvey's analysis of neoliberal urbanisation, this research examines three film festivals in different localities throughout the western hemisphere: the Workers Unite Film Festival, New York; the Liverpool Radical Film Festival, UK; and the Subversive Film Festival in Zagreb, Croatia.Emerging in the wake of the 2007/8 financial crash, these festivals comprise a diverse range of localised practices that have sought to bring attention to some of the social, spatial, political and cultural problems arising from neoliberalism as such. The practices they have developed are in many ways forged through a relation with an unsympathetic, if not totally oppositional, urban environment that is increasingly profit-oriented and privatised. Thus the research investigates the possibility of film festivals as sites of resistance, and aims to map these spheres onto neoliberal modernity. The purpose is not simply to provide a critique of neoliberalism or the film festivals under analysis, but to offer some insight on these forms of local assembly wherein neoliberalism and capitalism are not a given necessity in the hope of contributing to a praxis that facilitates their transgression.
Date of Award1 May 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorCLAIRE PARKINSON (Director of Studies), RUXANDRA TRANDAFOIU (Supervisor) & PATRICK HOEY (Supervisor)


  • activism
  • neoliberalism
  • social movements
  • hegemony
  • political economy
  • film festivals

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