New Intimate Cinema Spaces

Rebecca Lelli

by Rebecca Lelli


This podcast is of a seminar presented by Rebecca Lelli at Macquarie University for SSSN on 24th October 2017. Rebecca’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Dr Tara McLennan and involving the audience present on the day.

REBECCA LELLI is a Masters of Research candidate at Macquarie University. Her research interests are how new ‘intimate cinemas’ on personal-digital-devices are changing the ways LGBTQIA+ youth engage with queer narrative texts and how this is shaping contemporary queer politics and activism.

Audiences (or, more accurately, ‘users’) today are engaging with audiovisual narratives in innumerable ways. They may choose to attend a blockbuster in IMAX 4K 3D in reclining-seats at the multiplex, binge-watch the latest Netflix series at home with friends, stream YouTube videos on their smartphone on the train, or watch a movie alone in bed. However, there has been a tendency within cinema scholarship to elevate the traditional public theatre as the best way to watch a film. My research instead, explores alternative platforms and the way these new viewing spaces may be changing the way we cognitively and affectively engage with narratives on screen. I utilise Edward T Hall’s theory of Proxemics, to examine the importance of spatial context in film cognition, and propose a new model of analysis in which we can investigate and compare ‘public’, ’social’, and ‘intimate’ cinema spaces simultaneously. We know all about the ‘magic’ of the traditional public movie theatre, but what about new cocoon-like ‘intimate cinemas’ offered by personal digital devices – how are these spaces unique, and how do they constitute the viewing experience? As a case study, I have mapped these changes in viewing spaces and genre aesthetics in queer cinema. More specifically, I have examined contemporary youth-oriented screen texts and the way these texts, when viewed in the new ‘intimate cinema’ may be drastically altering queer youth identity development narratives and wider queer politics. Compared to other demographics, these new ‘intimate cinema’ spaces offer something vital for queer youth; a safe, private space of escape – in which they can freely engage with affirmative queer stories.


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