Short Film in the Balkans and Eastern Europe: Archive, Memory and Transnational Histories

We are delighted to announce the call for papers for the forthcoming IN THE PALACE ISFF Conference on “Short Film in the Balkans and Eastern Europe: Archive, Memory and Transnational Histories” - an interdisciplinary conference centred around investigating the connections between film and transnational histories through a diverse range of approaches. It aims to bring together scholars, artists, and practitioners to critically engage with the complexities of power, archive, memory, historicity, and cultural & material realities through creative, political, and historical lens with a focus on the short film as an evolving cinematic form and its relevance in the past and the present. For more information on the CFP, submissions, and deadlines please see below:

 3rd IN THE PALACE ISFF Conference 

Short Film in the Balkans and Eastern Europe: Archive, Memory and Trans-national Histories 

4-5 July 2024 

IN THE PALACE International Short Film Festival 

Pernik, Bulgaria 

Archives are spaces of power and violence. They are places where power is stored and reconstituted through the violent selection or annihilation of information pertaining to individuals and communities and to their hierarchies. Jacques Derrida suggests that the archive is shaped by the “archon”: from ancient Greek meaning “ruler”. It derives from the Greek verb stem αρχ-: “to be first”, “to rule” (1996). Archives are therefore quintessentially patriarchal, paternal and colonial institutions designated meant to preserve and expand the political order which founded them. Archives, however, are also “sites of memory” (Pierre Nora) preserving traces of experiences, practice and resistance on the part of underrepresented peoples and communities. More than thirty years after the end of the Cold War, the region is now demanding a decolonial view of its past, archives and memory, one shaped by a multivocal discourse as suggested by Roma Sendyka (2022). 

Drawing on Ariella Aïsha Azoulay’s notion of “unlearning archives” (2019), this conference seeks to understand how the meanings, histories and practices of the short film have contributed to reinforcing or challenging categories, taxonomies, and conceptions which have served to shape our knowledge of the Balkans and Eastern Europe. The aim of the conference is to shift the perspective in a number of ways: by focusing on the short film (non-fiction, fiction and hybrid forms) as a result of social, cultural, economic practices, and technological advancements; by approaching their aesthetic, political and narrative specificities, their artistic and archival re-usage in contemporary times; by examining transnational connections, networks and exchanges of filmmaking practices; and, finally, by decentring our gaze on the short film within the context of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. 

While the history of “auteur”-centric and national cinemas of Eastern Europe and the Balkans are well established, the histories and filmmaking practices outside the State-run film studios, especially the variety of short film forms, are little known and rarely seen. We are interested in research on hybrid and experimental works, newsreels and documentaries made by filmmakers, artists, amateurs and film professionals within smaller State-funded studios, film clubs, film collectives and institutions. We are seeking to engage with the historicity of short formats by questioning the connections between short film practices, archives, and their dependence on the political conjectures in the authoritarian regimes of the 20th century and the predominant socialist economies. What room for manoeuvre did the short format allow? What was the attitude of the state towards short film production? How did the short format contribute to alternative filmmaking practices (in terms of filmic expression and sometimes political orientation)? How did the intertwining of the market economy, political liberalism and the predominant role of festivals and archives in the film industry shape the directions it took from the end of the 20th century onwards? 

After World War II, films were used as a way of stimulating collaboration and solidarity between the socialist Eastern European and Balkan countries and the communist and socialist movements of (post)colonial states and societies. With the end of communism, a major part of this film heritage was deemed propaganda. Nevertheless, the films remain topical today, because discourses and events which marked the history of Eastern Europe and the Balkans echo the imperial and colonial politics prevalent in other parts of the world. Our goal is to reconsider such films, in order to explore the memories and limits of de-colonial politics in state-socialism and beyond. What was the role of film in fostering direct and flexible trans-national connections between the countries of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the rest of the world? Could these connections be mapped out dynamically, and what form might they take at the beginning of the 21st century? We welcome papers exploring the relations between Eastern Europe, the Balkans and (post)colonial states in Asia, Africa and South America through fiction and non-fiction short films (e.g. films or newsreels documenting anti-colonial movements, such as the Angolan war of independence, the anti-apartheid movement, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Cuban revolution, the Vietnam war, etc.) 

We are also interested in understanding the transition from the analogue to digital in relation to accessibility and memory. We want to explore the politics of production and contemporary uses of short film archives from the perspectives of collective and cultural memory, transnational or national frameworks: through film collectives, resistance movements, guerrilla filmmaking or DIY practices (such as the practice of archival appropriation, found footage re-usage or compilation films, etc.). 

We invite proposals that engage with the following issues, but are by no means limited to them: 

1. The aesthetics and history of an evolving short cinematic form (politics of production and usage of audiovisual archives in Eastern Europe and the Balkans; censorship in archival film practices and creative approaches used in short films to circumvent censorship, etc.) 

2. Exhibition practices and spaces (film festivals and short films; film collections and modes of programming short film; film museum exhibitions; curation and programming of archival short films in cinemas; short film programmes on TV and digital streaming platforms, etc.) 

3. Short film, archives and multiple memories (short film archives, regional cooperation and civic engagement; low budget and DIY approaches to experimenting with short forms and archives; queer film history and archiving in the context of the short form; community and collective archiving, resistance archives and short audiovisual forms, transition from analogue to digital in the context of film archives and accessibility; memory and short cinematic forms in a digital age; etc.) 4. Transnational perspectives, inter-regional connections, and decolonial practices (third cinema; the non-aligned movement; militant films, newsreels and anti-colonial movements; feminist movements and short film practice; short films and post-colonial/post-imperial histories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe) 

Artistic contributions: We also warmly invite proposals for contributions from practitioners/researchers working upon the themes of the conference. The formats to share artistic research are open but can include workshops, films, performative lectures or 

interventions, video essays, and found footage assemblages. Please note that complex technical assistance cannot be provided. 

Presentation formats & rules 

Application documents & rules 


Between 250-300 words. The proposals should clearly state the issue, questions, methods, and approaches. Keywords - min. 3 words. 

Author’s biography 

A short professional biography (50-70 words) 

- Description of artistic proposal (in case of artistic research contribution only): 

Between 300-400 words: relevancy of the proposal in relation to the thematic areas listed above. 

Conference formats 

Report or paper presentation: 20 minutes time to present. 

Screening sessions: A presentation which includes a screening of no more than 40 minutes followed by 20 minutes of discussion. 

Artistic contributions: Exact format of presentation to be discussed depending on the nature of the contributions. 

All documents must be sent in English. 

Conference proceedings will be published in an edited volume after selection and peer review process by the organisers. 


Extended Abstract submission deadline: 22.04.2024 

Notify authors of accepted submissions: 10.05.2024 

Conference dates: 4-5.07.2024 

Financial matters: 

No fees are requested for submission or processing. 

Scholars will be invited to present their papers at the conference during the festival, on the 4th and 5th of July 2024. Travel costs and accommodation in Pernik (2 days + 1 day for travelling, if necessary) will be covered for the conference participants. 

Conference organisation committee: 

Ana Grgic 

Fabio Bego 

Irina Tcherneva 

Nezih Erdogan 

For any inquiries or questions, please contact 

Please submit your proposals via this link: 

ITPISFF Conference