Filmgeographies is an online platform for anyone interested in films about geography and geographers who make films. Filmgeographies started in 2016 via AAG Shorts, a short film screening festival set up by Jessica Jacobs as part of the American Association of Geographers Annual meeting. In 2018 Giovanna Ceno and Matteo Bontempi helped design this website. In November 2018 Jessica Jacobs and Joseph Palis established the first specialty group at the American Association of Geographers’ devoted to film-making and screening.

Digital video offers new challenges and opportunities for all social scientists, including geographers, particularly in terms of their commitment to increasing diversity and embedding inclusivity into their practices. Opportunities because using video as a research method means we will be able to include more participants in our research, and screening our research will allow us to reach a wider audience for our findings. Challenges because it can be hard to keep up with all the changes in the way people produce and consume this fast-moving networked medium.

What makes a film geographical?

What makes a film geographical? For us a geographical film is a film that explores people’s relationship to their environment, a film that is place-based, and where that ‘place’, often dismissed as ‘background’ in other films, is treated like a character in its own right with agency and voice. (Jacobs and Palis, 2020).

Why make a geographical film?

As a creative research method, filmmaking in an academic context can produce new forms of knowledge, and help us understand how knowledge is produced. Ongoing crises in the climate, health and the political system has shown that we need to understand how power shapes our lives and the rise of the decolonise movement has once more turned our attention to the way we produce knowledge. Films can be essayistic in structure, but they are not the same as texts. Films can relay arguments but also reflections and emotions. Part of the pleasure of making films is allowing people to watch them and reinterpret them according to their lived reality. Films can also address enduring issues of diversity and inclusivity in western academic institutions. Even more important in a Covid context where travel is curtailed, locally produced films allow us to know more about different communities and crises from all over the world through a wider range of perspectives addressing structural inequalities directly.

Publication Platform

We want to grow FilmGeographies as a film sharing community that includes peer review. Peer review is not only central to the process by which new research is recognised and validated by the scientific community, it also how we can learn and improve our own filmic literacy (Jacobs 2016). Traditional peer review processes that work for text-based academic journals are now adapting to suit the needs of non-traditional, non-text-based forms of research inquiry. Filmgeographies is working to develop as an interactive and collaborative network to help establish this new and exciting phase.

Our Goals:

  • To publish films made by geographers and other scholars in a way that allows them to be peer reviewed.
  • To promote and coordinate film festivals, workshops and other activities that promote the use of film-making in the academy.
  • To promote the use of film-making as a method of teaching that allows us to make education more relevant to a wider and more diverse group of engaged students and staff.
  • To stimulate the exchange of information about film and film-making in geography and across the social sciences, arts and humanities.
Giovanna Ceno – Independent – Italy
Vitor Hugo Costa – Metalfilmes, Portugal
Alexa Firat – Temple University, USA
Eric Laurier – University of Edinburgh, UK
Jessica Jacobs – Queen Mary University of London, UK
Joseph Pàlis – University of Philippines, Diliman
Ciaran Reynolds – Independent, UK
Andrew Small - University of the Creative Arts, UK

Contact us if you are interested in joining our panel