10:00 AM, 15 Feb 2021 - , Online

The Return of the Pontianak: Postcolonial Horror as World Cinema

Department of Film & Screen Media – 2021 Research Seminar Series
Tuesday, 16 February 2021, 10 a.m. (on MS Teams)
Rosalind Galt (King’s College London)
‘The Return of the Pontianak: Postcolonial Horror as World Cinema’
The pontianak, or female vampire, is one of the most popular supernatural creatures in Malay cinema. The pontianak film first flourishes from 1957–65, animating precolonial beliefs exactly at the time when Malaysia and Singapore were forming as postcolonial nations. This emergence of animism as genre illuminates the importance of cinema in the imaginative processes of decolonization. As a vengeful female spirit, the pontianak has obvious feminist potential, but she troubles other orthodoxies too. In cinema, her manifestations are queer, spectral, non-human. She registers a series of intersecting anxieties: about femininity and modernity; globalization and indigeneity; racial and national identities; and the relationship of Islam to animism. This talk will analyze the pontianak from classical 1950s horror to contemporary Malaysian and Singaporean film and television, and will consider its manifestations as a way of thinking both anticolonial aesthetics and ‘world cinema’.
Rosalind Galt is Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. She is the coauthor with Karl Schoonover of Queer Cinema in the World(2016), author of Pretty: Film and the Decorative Image (2011) and The New European Cinema: Redrawing the Map (2006), and coeditor of Global Art Cinema: New Theories and Histories (2010).

All welcome. Organised by Department of Film and Screen Media

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