Visiting address:
015 Queen's Building, Southlands

Phone: +44 (0)20 8392 3274

Biography

Michael Witt is Professor of Cinema and Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Film and Audiovisual Cultures (CRFAC) at Roehampton.

He is the author of Jean-Luc Godard, Cinema Historian (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2013), which won the 2014 Limina Award for Best International Film Studies Book. This book offers an in-depth study of Godard's monumental videographic investigation of cinema and history, Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988-1998), within the context of his overall œuvre. It has been reviewed in a variety of publications, including Senses of Cinema, New Left Review, Sight and Sound, 1895: Revue d'histoire du cinéma, Film Quarterly, Choice, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Spectrum Culture, Modern & Contemporary France, French Studies, and The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory.

Michael is also the co-editor of For Ever Godard (Black Dog Publishing, 2004), The French Cinema Book (British Film Institute, 2004), and Jean-Luc Godard: Documents (Éditions du Centre Pompidou, 2006). Some of his articles, which have appeared in journals such as Sight and Sound, Screen, Trafic, Cinéma, Critical Studies in Television, and New Left Review, have been translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese. His most recent article, a study of a forgotten compilation film that Godard created and showed during the 1981 Rotterdam Film Festival, was published in Spring 2015 under the title 'In search of Godard's Sauve la vie (qui peut)' in NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies and is forthcoming in Portuguese and German translation.

Michael has a longstanding interest in curation, and has curated film seasons for institutions such as Tate Modern, the Ciné-Lumière and BFI Southbank. He is currently working on a revised and expanded edition of The French Cinema Book for BFI Publishing/Palgrave Macmillan and is curating a full Jean-Luc Godard retrospective with Michael Temple for the British Film Institute at BFI Southbank in Spring 2016.

Consultancy work

Michael has contributed on a number of occasions to the BBC Radio 3 programme Night Waves, and in 2014 was interviewed about Godard by Bloomberg News and The Hollywood Reporter.

He has given guest lectures at a variety of venues, including Cambridge University (1999), the Université Paris X Nanterre (2001), the Gwangju International Film Festival, South Korea (2002), The Royal Academy of Arts, London (2002), the Louvre, Paris (2008), the Ljubljana International Film Festival, Slovenia (2008), the Era New Horizons International Film Festival, Wroclaw, Poland (2010), Edinburgh University (2011), the Oi Futuro institute for contemporary art, Rio de Janeiro (2013), the Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt (2013), the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (2013), University College Cork (2014), University of Bedfordshire (2014), the Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, Brazil (2014), the National Media Museum, Bradford (2014), and the Toronto International Film Festival TIFF Bell Lightbox film centre (2014).

Besides the curatorial ventures mentioned above, he has programmed films for the Ciné Lumière in London, and given numerous talks at the National Film Theatre (now BFI Southbank) in London. Between 2000 and 2004 he also organised a series of seven screenings and study days with Michael Temple devoted to 'Rethinking French Cinema' at the National Film Theatre. These day events addressed topics such as 'Cinema and Television', 'Cinema of the Occupation', 'Emmigé Influences on French Cinema', 'French Film Noir', 'Gender and French Cinema', 'Forms of Early French Cinema', and 'The French Documentary Tradition'.

In 2010 he was an International Competition Jury Member at the Jeonju International Film Festival in South Korea. In 2011 he was an External Advisor for the periodic review of the suite of degree programmes offered by the School of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Central Lancashire, and in 2011-2012 he acted as an external Research Excellence Framework (REF) consultant for the University of Westminster.

He was the External Examiner for the M.A. in Film Studies at Kingston University from 2005 to 2009, and is currently External Examiner for the B.A. Film Production at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. In recent years he has examined MPhil and PhD theses at Kingston University, Bath University, Birkbeck College (University of London), the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3, Queen's University (Belfast), and Royal Holloway (University of London).

He regularly acts as a peer reviewer for submissions to a wide range of scholarly journals, and has reviewed book proposals and manuscripts for a numerous publishers, including Blackwell Publishing, Palgrave Macmillan, I. B. Tauris, Bloomsbury, Indiana University Press, and Oxford University Press. Since 2003 he has given an annual lecture on film theory to postgraduate students at the Institute of Modern Languages Research (School of Advanced Study, University of London) as part of the IMLR Research Training Programme.

Over the course of the past fifteen years he has contributed interviews, articles, and film and book reviews to Sight and Sound, including (in 2005) an interview with Jean-Luc Godard, 'I, A Man of the Image'. For his contribution to the 2012 ten-yearly Sight and Sound "Greatest Films" poll, see HERE.

Professional affiliations

Qualifications

BA Hons (University of Bath), PhD (University of Bath)

Research interests

Michael's principal research interests lie in the fields of French cinema, cinema history, avant-garde and experimental cinema, film theory and philosophy, found footage filmmaking, audiovisual history and criticism, documentary, essay films and video essays, and the work of Jean-Luc Godard.

Besides his monograph on Godard, his recent publications include:

  • 'In search of Godard's Sauve la vie (qui peut)', NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies, Spring 2015. This article examines a little known compilation film, Sauve la vie (qui peut), that Jean-Luc Godard created in 1981 within the framework of a series of lectures on cinema history that he delivered in Rotterdam in 1980-1981. To make this compilation film, Godard combined sections from his Sauve qui peut (la vie) with extracts from four other films: Staroye i novoye (Old and New, Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Alexandrov, 1929), Cops (Edward Kline and Buster Keaton, 1922), La terra trema: Episodio del mare (The Earth Trembles, Luchino Visconti, 1948), and Czlowiek z marmuru (Man of Marble, Andrzej Wajda, 1977). Based on archival research, the article considers the context to the screening, the film's structure, Godard's wider engagement with the filmmakers whose work he incorporated, the prints he used, Witt's attempts to reconstitute the film digitally, and its reception in 1981 and today. This article appeared in Portuguese translation in Eugenio Puppo and Mateus Araujo (eds.), Godard Interiro ou o Mundo em Pedaços (Sao Paulo: Heco Producoes, 2015), pp. 65-77. It is also forthcoming in a longer version in French and German translation.
  • 'Archaeology of Histoire(s) du cinéma', in Jean-Luc Godard, Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television, ed. and trans. Timothy Barnard (Montreal: Caboose, 2014). This 20,000 word essay offers a detailed study of the development of Godard's Histoire(s) du cinéma from the late 1960s onwards. It pays particular attention to the lectures on cinema history that Godard delivered in Montreal in 1978, which Timothy Barnard has retranscribed from the original videotapes, and which were published for the first time in English in this volume.
  • 'On and Under Communication', in Tom Conley and T. Jefferson Kline (eds), A Companion to Jean-Luc Godard (Hoboken and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), pp. 318-350. This 10,000 word book chapter provides a detailed study of the collaborative films and television series made by Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville under the name 'Sonimage' from 1973 to 1979. It focuses in particular on their critique of television and journalism, and their engagement with the ideas of Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Claude Shannon and Robert Linhart. A shorter version of this text appeared in French translation, translated by Stephen Sarrazin, in the journal Mondes du cinéma, No.9, September 2016, pp. 9-17. 
  • 'Godard, Multimedia Installation Artist'. This is an updated and expanded version of an article that first appeared in New Left Review in 2004. The new version appeared in Portuguese translation in Ai­da Marques, Anne Marquez and Dominique Paini (eds), Expo(r) Godard (Rio de Janeiro: 7Letras, 2014), pp. 44-73.

The film seasons he has curated include:

  • 'Paradise Now! Essential French Avant-Garde Cinema 1890-2008', Tate Modern, 14 March - 2 May 2008. A season of over ninety avant-garde and experimental French films, co-curated with Prof. Nicole Brenez (Université de Paris 3 - Sorbonne Nouvelle) and Dr Michael Temple (Birkbeck College);
  • 'French Documentary Cinema', National Film Theatre, 8-27 April 2004. A season of twenty-four French documentaries, co-curated with Dr Michael Temple (Birkbeck College).

Recent public appearances include:

  • September 2015: guest lecture at the Filmske Mutacije: Festival nevidljivog filma 9 (Film Mutations: Festival of Invisible Cinema 9) in Zagreb, Croatia.
  • September 2015: interview about Godard for Croatian television.
  • September 2015: panel discussion about Adieu au langage at the Art-Kino Croatia, Rijeka (with Dragan Rubesa, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Sarinah Maskour, Nicole Brenez and Tanja Vrvilo).
  • September 2015: panel discussion about Godard at the Kino Tuskanac cinema, Zagreb (with Jonathan Rosenbaum, Nicole Brenez and Tanja Vrvilo).
  • March 2015: onstage discussion at the ICA with Thom Andersen following the European premiere of his new film The Thoughts That Once We Had (2015).
  • December 2014: onstage discussion at Tate Modern with Olivier Bohler and Céline Gailleurd of their essay film Le Désordre Exposé, which explores the exhibition Voyage(s) en utopie, Jean-Luc Godard, 1946-2006 that Godard staged at the Pompidou Centre in 2006.
  • November 2014: guest lecture on Histoire(s) du cinéma at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Bell Lightbox film centre.

Teaching

Michael teaches in the areas of cinema history, experimental cinema, film theory, the theory and practice of audiovisual criticism, and French and European cinema. In 2016-2017 he is teaching the following:

B.A. Film

Year 1

  • Film History and Criticism

Year 3

  • Audiovisual Dissertation
  • Dissertation

M.A. Film and Screen Cultures

  • Screen Cultures of London
  • Essay Films and Video Essays
  • Audiovisual Dissertation
  • Dissertation

Research outputs

  1. In Search of Sauve la vie (qui peut)

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  2. Derrida

    Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

  3. Jean-Luc Godard retrospective

    Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

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