André Bazin once coined the term ‘impure cinema’ to signify cinema’s mixed nature, which incorporates aesthetic devices and narrative strategies of all other arts. Drawing on this inclusive concept, the ‘Mixed Cinema Network’ will look at the cinema as a fundamentally interdisciplinary area of study, further enriched by an intercultural aspect deriving from its origin as an industrial and transnational medium. Japanese cinema is a case in point, as it emerged from the kabuki theatre and evolved on the basis of unrestricted borrowing from dance, literature and visual arts. More recently, Japanese cinema has turned to international co-productions with other Asian countries, which resulted in an enhanced intercultural dialogue. By addressing Japanese cinema through its interdisciplinary and intercultural elements, our network will contribute a novel approach which, rather than reinforcing traditional East-West, centre-periphery, Hollywood-World Cinema and other binary oppositions, will tackle the complexities of intermingled identities, aesthetics and social concerns cinema can reflect in a multipolar world.

The Mixed Cinema Network will develop two parallel research lines. The first of them, supported by the White Rose Consortium, refers to interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches to Japanese Cinema. The three awarded studentships will be looking at different aspects of this subject. On a second research level, the Network will be looking at interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches to World Cinema.

The 'Mixed Cinema Network', involving six scholars from Leeds, Sheffield and York, and led by Prof Lúcia Nagib (Leeds), has been awarded three White Rose Studentships, starting in October 2009. The studentships provide full tuition fees at UK/EU student rates, an annual maintenance grant and a contribution towards research and travel expenses to students embarking on full-time PhD programmes, worth a total of c. 200k. Each studentship is bilateral and involves two supervisors – the principal supervisor at the lead institution and the co-supervisor at the partner institution.  Each university acts as lead on one studentship, and partner on another.

The White Rose studentships initiative was set up to encourage collaboration between the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York and it provides a new opportunity for collaboration which would not otherwise exist. However it provides no funding other than the studentships, and the awarded network is expected to find ways of surviving beyond this initial stage through further research bids. The awarded network is also expected to interact with universities and networks other than the network partners.

The title image is a still from 'A Man Vanishes', directed by Shohei Imamura, 1967. Reproduced with kind permission of Imamura Production.