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Dr Valentina Vitali

Professor of Film Studies

Director - Moving Image Research Centre , Humanities and Creative Industries

    Valentina teaches film history and theory at undergraduate (BA) and postgraduate (MA) levels, and supervises PhDs, by dissertation and/or by practice, in a range of film-related subjects.
    Modules taught include European & World Cinemas, Professional Practice (on film distribution and exhibition), Critical Theory, Media Cultures. Valentina is the director and founding member of the Moving Image Research Centre (UEL). She acts as the School of Arts and Creative Industries’ Professors and Readers Representative, and is an active member of the university’s research committees, including as ‘Impact Champion’ for Research & Excellence Framework 2021’s Unit of Assessment 34. She also acts as research and academic mentor to colleagues across the School of Arts and Creative Industry.

    Valentina Vitali is a film historian. Her research explores, from a comparative perspective, the relation between history, economics and film aesthetics. She has written extensively on Hindi cinema, on concepts of the national in cinema, and on film historiography. She has been teaching film history and theory for twenty years

    1998 – 2001 PhD, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland

    Thesis title: The Aesthetics of Cultural Modernisation: Hindi Cinema 1947-1957

    1994 – 98 BA in South Asian Studies, 1st class honours, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

    1989 – 90 MA in English Literature, Universität Zürich, Switzerland

    1984 – 89 BA in Comparative Literature with History of Art, 1st class honours, Universität Zürich, Switzerland

    1980 – 83 Baccalaureate (with Classics), Liceo Cantonale Lugano, Switzerland

    Languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Hindi.

    PhD examiner for UK and European universities.
    Grant applications reviewer for the Hong Kong Research Grants Council.
    Member of the editorial board of Sine/Cine: the Journal of Cinema Research.
    Member of the advisory board of Journal of the Moving Image.
    Member of the editorial advisory committee of The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism (eds Immanuel Ness and Saër Maty Bâ, 2014).
    Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore.
    Regular peer-reviewer for positions: asia critique, Duke University Press journal.
    Regular peer-reviewer and guest editor for BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, Sage journal.


    Valentina’s research, publications and other activities focus on what is generally referred to as 'world cinema', in particular on the cinemas of South Asia, East Asia and Latin America. Her research follows two parallel tracks: on the one hand, the study of national cinemas and the socio-industrial context that sustains them; on the other, theoretical questions of film historiography and new developments in film culture. These include the role of film festivals in the creation of a global, transnational audience, and the position of women filmmakers in emerging cinemas. This dual approach has led Valentina to produce publications and organise events that, against the narrow study of national cinemas as isolated objects, open up films’ aesthetics, history and industrial base to comparative scrutiny. Valentina is currently conducting new research on the impact of streaming services in emerging cinemas, with a special focus on the cinemas of South Asia.


    Events organised since 2014:

    2020 - Other Ways of Seeing. Three week film history course at Yangon Film School. Yangon, 20 July-8 August. Open to Yangon Film School and National University of Arts and Culture (Myanmar) students,
    and local filmmakers.

    Radical Interdisciplinarity in Artist Filmmaking: Moving Image on Displacement, Migration and the Politics of Place. Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1 October, in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery  (London), AllArtNow (Damascus), and mazefilm (Berlin).

    2019 - Contemporary Women Filmmakers in South Asia. FACT, Liverpool, 9-10 December, in collaboration with Liverpool Hope University, part of AHRC-funded project and symposium Articulating Women.

    Empowering Women

    Retracing Kampala. First event in the series ‘Work-in-Progress’, Moving Image Research Centre, University Square Stratford, London, 15 May, in collaboration with the journal darkmatter: in the ruins
    of imperial culture. Eventbrite link

    South Asian Women’s Cinema Now. Film Development Centre, Yangon, 22 February, in collaboration with Yangon Film School and Myanmar Motion Picture Development Department.
    Event page link

    Yangon event link

    2018 - Meanings of Failed Action: Insurrection 1946. Art exhibition, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, 8 Feb.-15 July 2018, co-curated with Vivan Sundaram, Ashish Rajadhyaksha and David Chapman Insurrection WordPress link

    Nation, Gender and History: Asian Cinemas in Perspective. International conference, Centre of Oriental Studies, Vilnius University, Vilnius, 7-9 September. Nagehi

    Rouch 100. Short artist films to mark the 100th anniversary of Jean Rouch’s birth, Close-Up Cinema, London, 31 May. Close-Up Film centre

    Alia Syed: Recent Works. Retrospective, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 27 April. Whitechapel Gallery

    The Writerly. Short films by contemporary British and Irish artists, Close-Up Cinema, London, 6 February. Close-Up Cinema

    2016 - CineCri ’16: 3rd International and Film Studies and Cinematic Arts Conference. Dakam: Eastern Mediterranean Academic Research Centre, Istanbul, 10-13 June. DakAm Conferences

    2014 - Parallax Views of Moving Image Practice 2. Conversations in moving image theory and practice, Moving Image Research Centre, University of East London, 30 May.
    UEL Research on The Moving Image


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    Capital and Popular Cinema: the Dollars Are Coming!

    Vitali, V. 2016. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    Hindi Action Cinema: Industries, Narratives, Bodies.

    Vitali, V. 2008. Delhi and Bloomington: Oxford University Press and Indiana University Press.

    Theorising National Cinemas

    Vitali, V. 2006. London: British Film Institute, co-edited with Paul Willemen.

    Book Chapters:

    ‘”But are they all horrid?” On the use of the gothic in Hindi horror cinema’, in 'South Asian Gothic'

    Vitali, V, Katarzyna A and Valanciunas D. Winter 2020. South Asian Gothic. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

    ‘Variables of Transnational Authorship: Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Wei Te-Sheng’, in 'Taiwan Cinema: International Reception and Social Change'

    Vitali, V, Chiu K and Rawnsley, M. 2017. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 25-38.

    'Antonioni’s Chung Kuo-Cina: a Moment of Explicitation’, in 'Chinese Cinemas: International Perspectives'

    Vitali, V and Chan, F . 2016. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 143-58..

    ‘Dara Singh and the Hindi Small-budget Film’, in Bollywood: Volume 3: Form/Genres and Other Features of Hindi Cinema

    Vitali, V and Dwyer, R. 2015. London and New York: Routledge.

    ‘Migration and National Cinema’, in The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, Vol. 3

    Vitali, V and Ness, I. 2013. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 1454-59.

    ‘The Hindi Horror Film: Notes on the Realism of a Marginal Genre’, in Genre in Asian Film and Television

    Vitali, V, Chan, F, Karpovich, A and Zhang, X. 2011. London: MacMillan. pp. 130-48.

    ‘The Evil I: Realism and Scopophilia in the Horror Films of the Ramsay Brothers’, in Beyond the Boundaries of Bollywood

    Vitali, V, Dwyer, R and Pinto, J. Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 77-101.

    ‘History Matters’, in Narratives of Indian Cinema

    Vitali, V and Jain, M. 2009. Delhi: Primus Books. pp. 53-68.

    ‘Cultural Specificity and Universalism in the Work of Shirin Neshat’ / ‘Kulttuurinen erityisyys ja universaalisuus Shirin Neshat taiteessa’, in Slöjans helighet / The Secret of the Veil

    Vitali, V and Talasmaa, P. 2007. Espoo: Espoo Museum of Modern Art. pp. 16-43.

    ‘Where Are Those Who Claim to Be Proud of Their Land? Pyaasa’, in Movies: the Little Black Book

    Vitali, V and Fujiwara, Chris. London: Cassell. p. 275.

    'Not a Biography of the “Indian Cinema”: Historiography and the Question of National Cinema in India’, in Theorising National Cinemas

    Vitali, V and Willemen, P . 2006. London: British Film Institute. pp. 262-73.

    ‘The Cyborg's Hand: Care or Control?’, in The Digital Film Event

    Vitali, V and Minh-ha, T. 2005. New York and London: Routledge. pp. 27-42.

    ‘Reading “Mahdokht” / “Mahdokht” Verstehen’, in Shirin Neshat

    Vitali, V, Schmitz, B and Stammer, B. E. Berlin and Göttingen: Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof and Stiedl. pp. 21-32 and pp. 107-12.

    ‘Hong Kong – Hollywood – Bombay: on the Function of Martial Art in the Hindi Action Cinema’, in Hong Kong Connections: Transnational Imagination in Action Cinema

    Vitali, V, Morris, M, Leung S, and Ching-kiu, S. Durham and Hong Kong: Duke University Press and Hong Kong University Press. pp. 125-50.

    Essays in peer-reviewed journals:

    ‘B & C Circuit’, BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies 2020 11(2)

    Vitali, V. Spring 2021.

    'Contemporary Women Filmmakers in Myanmar’, BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, 11 (1)

    Vitali, V. Autumn 2020.

    ‘Why a Special Issue on Women’s Cinema?’, BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, 11 (1)

    Vitali, V. Autumn 2020.

    ‘The Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service: Picturing India’s New Woman’, Women’s History Review

    Vitali, V. 17 October 2019.

    ‘Meanings of Failed Action: a Reassessment of the 1946 Royal Indian Navy Uprising’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 41 (4)

    Vitali, V. 2018. pp. 763-88.

    ‘Introduction to the Dossier: Paul Willemen (1944-2012)’, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies,14 (1)

    Vitali, V and Rajadhyaksha, A. 2013. pp. 85-93.

    ‘Film Historiography as Theory of the Film Subject: a Case Study’, Cinema Journal, 50 (1)

    2011. pp. 141- 46.

    ‘Revisiting the Realism of the Cosmetics of Hunger: Cidade de deus and Ônibus 174’, New Cinemas, 8 (1)

    Vitali, V and Chan, F. 2010. pp. 15-30.

    ‘Hou Hsiao-hsien Reviewed’, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 9 (2) Special Issue on Hou Hsiao-hsien

    Vitali, V. 2008. pp. 280-89.

    ‘On the Frontal Subjects of the Hindi Melodrama: Notes for a Comparative Approach to Film’, boundary2, 33 (2)

    Vitali, V. 2006. pp. 159-76.

    ‘Why Study Cinema? Serial Visions of the Culture Industry and the Future of Film Studies’, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 6 (2)

    Vitali, V. 2005. pp. 282-88.

    ‘Nationalist Hindi Cinema: Questions of Film Analysis and Historiography’, Kinema, 22

    Vitali, V. 2004. pp. 63-82.

    ‘Corporate Art and Critical Theory: on Shirin Neshat’, Women: A Cultural Review, 15 (1)

    Vitali, V. 2004. pp. 1-18.

    ‘India’s Newspaper Revolution’, Journal of Asian Studies, 63 (2)

    Vitali, V. 2004. pp. 537-38.

    ‘A Cinema of Interruptions’, Journal of Asian Studies, 63 (2)

    Vitali, V. 2004. pp. 530- 31.

    ‘Between “Art” and “Cinema”: Shirin Neshat’s Photography and Videos’, n.paradoxa: International Feminist Art Journal, 12

    Vitali, V. 2003. pp. 33-43.

    ‘The Politics of Film Historiography’, Southern Review: Communication, Politics and Culture, 35 (2)

    Vitali, V. 2002. pp. 131-35.

    ‘Yesim Ustaoglu’, Framework: the Journal of Cinema and Media, special issue on Middle Eastern cinema, 43 (2)

    Vitali, V. 2002. pp. 196 - 200.

    ‘The Aesthetics of Cultural Modernization: Hindi Cinema in the 1940s’, South Asian Review, 21

    Vitali, V. 2000. pp. 88-90.

    ‘The Families of Hindi Cinema: for a Historical Approach to Film’, Framework: the Journal of Cinema and Media, 42

    Vitali, V. 2000.

    Guest editorships:

    Guest editor of special issue 11 (1) of BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, on contemporary women film directors in South Asia

    Vitali, V. Autumn 2020.

    Exhibition catalogues:

    Meanings of Failed Action: Insurrection 1946. Catalogue of exhibition, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Coomaraswamy Hall, Mumbai,

    Vitali, V and Rajadhyaksha, A. 17-25 March 2017.

    Interviews in peer-reviewed journals:

    ‘Dechen Roder’, BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, 11(1), Special issue women film directors in South Asia

    Vitali, V. Autumn 2020.

    ‘Lanka Bandaranayake’, BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, 11 (1), Special issue women film directors in South Asia

    Vitali, V. Autumn 2020.

    ‘Rubaiyat Hossain’, BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, 11 (1), Special issue women film directors in South Asia

    Vitali, V. Autumn 2020.

    Magazine publications:

    ‘Tabloid Visions and the Aestheticisation of Politics: the Times-BFI London Film Festival 2003’, Filmwaves, 23.


    ‘War at a Distance: Harun Farocki’s Erkennen und Verfolgen’, Filmwaves, 22. 


    ‘Cinema and Human Rights: Locarno Film Festival 2003’, Filmwaves, 22.


    ‘Interview with Trinh Minh-ha’, Filmwaves, 21

    2003. pp. 34-9.

    ‘Still Looking for “Kathryn Bigelow”’, Filmwaves, 21

    2003. pp. 24 - 6.

    ‘Cultural Tourism: Locarno Film Festival 2002’, Filmwaves, 19

    2002. pp. 10-13.

    ‘In Conversation with Wayne Wang’, Filmwaves, 16

    2001. p. 22-5.



    Film; photography; audio-visual arts; South, East and South East Asian culture and history



    Valentina teaches on the BA Film and MA Filmmaking programme, and supervises PhDs, by dissertation and/or by practice.

    Modules taught include European & World Cinemas, Professional Practice (on film distribution and exhibition), and Critical Theory.

    She has supervised to completion the following PhDs:

    - 2019 Najat Alsheridah: dance in Kuwaiti film and television, University of East London,
      1st supervisor, by practice with written dissertation.

    - 2015 Kiray Khoury: Lebanese online newspapers, University of East London,
       1st supervisor, written dissertation.

    - 2012 Vishnu Tirukkovalluri: Telugu mythological films, CSCS Bangalore-University of Ulster,
       1st supervisor, written dissertation.

    - 2007 Di Liu: music in Chinese cinema, University of Ulster,
      2nd supervisor, written dissertation.

    - 2005 Mica Ko: otherness in Japanese cinema, University of Ulster,
      2nd supervisor, written dissertation.

    - 2002 Alex Fisher: music in African cinema, University of Ulster,
      2nd supervisor, written dissertation.

    and she is currently supervising (with due to complete date):

    - 2020 Gareth Evans: landscape in contemporary Armenian cinema, University of East London,
      1st supervisor, by practice with written dissertation.

    - Naida Redgrave: representations of black Muslim women in English film and TV, UEL,
      1st supervisor, by practice with written dissertation.

    - 2021 Ashwin David Joy: Malayalam horror cinema, University of East London,
      2nd supervisor, by practice with written dissertation.

    - 2022 Rishabh Shrivastav: atheism in India, University of East London,
      2nd supervisor, by practice with written dissertation.

    - 2023 Dhruv Rupapara: Kathak in Hindi cinema, University of East London,
      1st supervisor, by practice with written dissertation