UWE presents Slumdog Millionaire Symposium in Bristol

Issue date: 21 May 2010


UWE Pervasive Media Studio, Leadworks, Bristol, Saturday 5 June 11.00 to 17.00

Researchers Fabian Frenzel and Michael Lawrence from the University of the West of England have joined forces to present a day long symposium at Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol to reconsider Danny Boyle's 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire. Slumdog Millionaire: Critical Perspectives on a Global Phenomenon will take place on Saturday 5 June between 11.00 and 17.00 and is open to everyone.

Fabian Frenzel explains, “This symposium will include five presentations and provide an opportunity to reflect on the cultural significance and impact of this unexpected and unprecedented film and media phenomenon.

“The popularity of Slumdog Millionaire is significant not only for the issues it raises about national and international film industries and audiences - its effects can already be traced in a wide variety of commercial contexts, from the growth of 'slum tourism' to the work of international children's charities.
“Such developments raise serious ethical questions about the impact of popular culture, the politics of representation and the commodification of poverty. This symposium will address the global impact and likely legacy of Slumdog Millionaire in the light of these and other questions.”

Fabian Frenzel and Michael Lawrence from UWE will be joined by Shakuntala Banaji (London School of Economics), Vandana Desai (Royal Holloway London), and Colin McFarlane (Durham University).

Fabian and Michael are both recent recipients of Early Career Research grants from the University. After seeing an article in the staff newsletter, the Bulletin, Michael realised that their research interests called for collaboration.

Fabian Frenzel, who is based at UWE's Bristol Business School, is working on project about slum tourism (link to press release) http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/uwenews/article.asp?item=1672&year=2010

Michael Lawrence from UWE's Faculty of Creative Arts is working on a project about the representation of the 'pitiable child' in world cinema Michael said, “Our research investigates different forms of poverty exploitation. Fabian's work is looking into the recent surge of interest in slum tourism, much of which is fuelled by cinema and TV shows. My research looks at the relationship between world cinema and international charities, and the way both present images of pitiable children to Western audiences. Slum tourism seeks to offer tourists a real experience but we have little insight into the benefits, if any, to the people living in poverty. While Slumdog Millionaire raised a lot of awareness about the plight of street children, the film is far from realistic, as charities understand only too well. Fabian and I are both interested in the film's impact on the real 'slumdogs' of Mumbai.

This symposium is open to all but places are limited. The cost is£8 (£6 students); lunch and refreshments provided. For more information contact Fabian Frenzel at fabian.frenzel@uwe.ac.uk or Michael Lawrence at michael.lawrence@uwe.ac.uk

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