Professor Hill has been involved in a range of professional activities including: Founding member of the Board of Directors, UK Film Council; Chair of Northern Ireland Film Council; Member of the Board of Governors; Member of the first Communications, Cultural and Media Studies panel for the HEFCE Research Assessment Exercise (RAE); Chair of Working Group on the Film Industry in Europe, Chair of European Institute for the Media; Founding chair of the Foyle Film Festival; Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of British Cinema and Television and of the Editorial Advisory Boards of Cineaste, Television and New Media and Scope. In terms of teaching, Hill has been responsible for a range of courses on film and television history, film analysis and criticism, British and European cinema, the film industry and Hollywood.
Fajriff.com conducted an exclusive interview with the Irish author attending the 37th FIff.
REPORTER: It’s an honor to have you among us. Please tell us more about yourself.
JOHN HILL: It’s very nice to be here. It’s my first time in Iran. I’m currently professor at the department of Media Arts of Royal Holloway University of London. University of London is a leading university in UK and Royal Holloway is one of a number of colleges. I’m of a mixed background. My family is Irish, I was brought up in Scotland but I’m working in London. I did my PhD in Scotland and worked for a long time in Ireland. My main research interest has been British and Irish cinema, also British television.
I co-authored the first serious academic book on the history of cinema in Ireland and subsequently wrote a book about cinema in Northern Ireland, which is the part of Ireland that remains within the UK and that’s still the only book on a rather special subject.
Your special field is British cinema and European cinema. Are you also familiar with Iranian cinema?
Well, I’ve just been in a panel and was talking about this and, of course, I am sufficiently old to be aware of Iranian cinema. In Britain and Europe and the West, more generally…you know, when I was a film student, in a way we were largely aware of European cinema but, of course, from the 1990s we became aware or Iranian films, through the film festivals. Some Iranian films began to appear on television, some were shown on DVD and, of course, in universities. Iranian cinema is now taught in universities. It’s taught from various angles, in terms of the significance of particular directors, arguments about national cinema, arguments about realism, arguments about form and style in cinema, arguments about politics in cinema.
I suppose my interest in Iranian cinema was particularly related to its linking to the realist tradition of filmmaking. A lot of the greatest Iranian filmmakers like Kiarostami are seen as part of a kind of realist tradition. And for me, I was interested because Iranian cinema had similarities with the cinema I know, the use of location shooting, non-professional actors, the use of the long take, use of natural lighting, and avoidance of an overt sort of organization of a frame. I think this is one of the more distinctive features of Iranian cinema – this has also been an interest in what I would call the politics of representation. How can cinema show us reality, how can cinema ever show us reality in a simple way. Filmmakers like Kiarostami made films that also make us aware of the filmmaking process.
Any words about the festival?
I’ve been very well looked after by the festival. I’ve already met some very interesting people, filmmakers, critics, students. It’s very enjoyable for me to be here. I don’t think of coming here with my knowledge; I think I’m coming here to learn something as well, because it’s a new experience for me.
Presided over by award-winning writer and director Reza Mirkarimi, the 37th edition of the festival is underway in Tehran until April 26.