Film academic wins funding to highlight work of female directors


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The way in which female directors use film to engage with contemporary issues including religion, gender and immigration, will be explored as part of a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) academic’s latest research project.

Dr Hila Shachar, Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Film, has secured a prestigious Early Career International Research Fellowship from the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE) at the University of Western Australia in Perth, granting her a month's residency there.

Hila Shachar
Dr Hila Shachar

Dr Shachar will collaborate with leading experts to explore how film is used to engage with complex, contemporary issues. She will analyse recent films by American, European, British and Australian directors, with a particular focus on women and migrant directors.

Her research will delve into how contemporary directors use the representation of youth and adolescence as a way to talk about issues such as religion, gender, queer identity, multiculturalism and immigration.

“CHE is home to the largest collection of data that has been gathered to understand how emotions have been understood, experienced, expressed and performed throughout history,” said Dr Shachar.

“I'll be exploring the idea that representing and adapting youth on screen is a form of engaging with questions about the present and the future, by adopting the 'voice' of the current generation.

“I will look at what the role of the director is, as both artist and social commentator, in contemporary culture, with a particular focus on why women's stories and women's directorial roles are still marginalised.”

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Dr Shachar will take advantage of the exhaustive resources at CHE, looking at how that representation has historical precedents in previous art.

The findings of her study will culminate in a book, as well as collaborative links between the Centre for Adaptations at DMU and the Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at the University of Western Australia.

“Not only is this a chance to conduct research with the best experts in this field, it’s also the beginning of a collaboration between DMU and The University of Western Australia,” she said.

The highly competitive Early Career International Research Fellowship provides funding for academics to undertake a significant piece of publishable research overseas.

Having joined DMU in 2014, Dr Shachar is a member of the university’s Centre for Adaptations, whose research focuses on the adaptation of literary works and authors in various media including film, television, song, graphic novel, and ballet. 

Hila Shachar book
Dr Shachar's 'Screening the Author'

In 2019, her book titled, ‘Screening the Author’ (Palgrave Macmillan) – which looked at the contemporary representation of authors in film and television – won her the award of ‘Best Book’ in DMU’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities Research Awards.

Posted on Monday 24th February 2020

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