Plenary Speakers

The International Conference on the Image will feature plenary sessions by some of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations by researchers and practitioners.

Howard Besser Emanuel Levy
Sean Cubitt Becky Smith
Douglas Kellner

Garden Conversation Sessions

Plenary Speakers will make formal 30-minute presentations. They will also participate in 60-minute Garden Conversations – unstructured sessions that allow delegates a chance to meet the speakers and talk with them informally about the issues arising from their presentation. Please return to this page for regular updates.

The Speakers

Howard Besser
Image in an Age of Re-Contextualization
Howard Besser is Director of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation masters degree program (MIAP). In addition to teaching MIAP courses, he teaches a regular Cinema Studies course on “New Media, Installation Art, and the Future of Cinema” ( His current research projects involve preserving digital public television (, preserving and providing digital access to dance performance ( and, preserving difficult electronic works, issues around copyright and fair use, Do-It-Yourself media, and the changing nature of media with the advent of digital delivery systems.

Previously he was a Professor of Information Studies at UCLA, where he taught and did research on multimedia, image databases, digital libraries, metadata standards, digital longevity, web design, information literacy, distance learning, intellectual property, and the social and cultural impact of new information technologies. Besser is an international expert on new technologies in libraries, museums, and archives, and has been active in national and international efforts to develop metadata and standards for the cultural heritage community.

Author of “Digital Longevity” in Handbook for Digital Projects, a Management Tool for Preservation and Access (Northeast Document Conservation Center, 2000); co-authored “The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age” (National Academy Press, 2000), “Defining the Problem of Our Vanishing Memory: Background, Current Status, Models for Resolution” in Time and Bits: Managing Digital Continuity (Getty Information Institute and Getty Conservation Institute, 1998). Articles in The Moving Image, First Monday, Processed World, Art Libraries Journal 25, Cinema Journal, Journal of the American Society of Information Science, Museum Studies Journal. Awarded the Outstanding Information Studies Teacher of the Year, American Society for Information Science, 1995. Member of the National Archives Electronic Records Preservation Review Panel, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, 2002-present; on the Preservation Committee, Electronic Literature Organization, 2002-present. Recipient of grants from Mellon Foundation, Pacific Bell, and Intel Research.

Sean Cubitt
The Latent Image – The relationships between the aesthetics and political economy of the image in the 21st century’
Sean Cubitt is Director of the Program in Media and Communications at the University of Melbourne and Honorary Professor of the University of Dundee. His publications include Timeshift: On Video Culture (Comedia/Routledge, 1991), Videography: Video Media as Art and Culture (Macmillans/St Martins Press, 1993), Digital Aesthetics (Theory, Culture and Society/Sage, 1998), Simulation and Social Theory (Theory, Culture and Society/ Sage, 2001), The Cinema Effect (MIT Press, 2004) and EcoMedia (Rodopi, 2005). He was the coeditor of Aliens R Us: Postcolonial Science Fiction with Ziauddin Sardar (Pluto Press 2002) and The Third Text Reader with Rasheed Araeen and Ziauddin Sardar (Athlone/Continuum 2002) and How to Study the Event Film: The Lord of the Rings (Manchester University Press, 2008). He is an editor of Cultural Politics and serves on the editorial boards of a dozen journals including Screen, Third Text, Visual Communication, Futures and The International Journal of Cultural Studies. His article on early video art won the 2006 CAA Award for best article. He is the series editor for Leonardo Books at MIT Press. His current research is on public screens and the transformation of public space; and on genealogies of digital light.

Douglas Kellner
Media Spectacle in the Contemporary Era: Some Critical Reflections
Douglas Kellner is George Kneller Chair in the Philosophy of Education at UCLA and is author of many books on social theory, politics, history, and culture, including Camera Politica: The Politics and Ideology of Contemporary Hollywood Film, co-authored with Michael Ryan; Critical Theory, Marxism, and Modernity; Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond; works in cultural studies such as Media Culture and Media Spectacle; a trilogy of books on postmodern theory with Steve Best; and a trilogy of books on the media and the Bush administration, encompassing Grand Theft 2000, From 9/11 to Terror War, and Media Spectacle and the Crisis of Democracy. Author of Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism, Kellner is editing collected papers of Herbert Marcuse, four volumes of which have appeared with Routledge. Kellner’s Guys and Guns Amok: Domestic Terrorism and School Shootings from the Oklahoma City Bombings to the Virginia Tech Massacre won the 2008 AESA award as the best book on education. His most recent book was published with Blackwell in 2009, entitled Cinema Wars: Hollywood Film and Politics in the Bush/Cheney Era. His website is at

Emanuel Levy
Image Red: Image as Agent Provocateur
emanuellevy-siteEmanuel Levy belongs to a small group of scholars who have juggled two full-time careers, as film professor and as film critic. He has taught at Columbia University, New School for Social Research, Wellesley College, ASU, where he was chair between 1990 and 1992, and now at UCLA Film School.

He is a voting member of five groups: Hollywood Foreign Press (HFPA), Los Angeles Film Critics (LAFCA), Broadcast Film Critics (BFCA), National Society of Film Critics (NSFC), and the International Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci). He has served on the grand juries of 45 international film festivals, including Cannes, Venice, Montreal, Locarno, Taormina, San Francisco, Hawaii.

Levy is the author of eight film books, the most recent of which is the first comprehensive biography of Vincente Minnelli: Hollywood’s Dark Dreamer, by St. Martin’s Press. Levy has written for various newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Time and the Financial Times. While in Arizona, he ran the ASU Film Society, and then the Scottsdale Independent Film Festival. Formerly a senior critic at Variety, and the UK publication Screen International, Levy established a website of film reviews and essays in 2004.

He has served on the juries of 45 international film festivals, including Cannes, Venice, Hawaii, San Francisco, Taormina, Locarno, Sundance, and most recently at the 2008 Rome Film Festival.

Becky Smith
Slippery Slopes – Documentary, Fiction and Reality
beckysmithpublicityphotoBecky Smith is head of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television First Year MFA directing program as well as an Emmy-nominated film and television director. Smith has directed numerous reality and documentary pilots and series for networks including MTV, MTV2, BRAVO, NBC, Fox, Disney Channel, PBS, Fuse and ABC Family. Her most recent film is the feature comedy “16 to Life”, which has won five “Best Feature” awards at international film festivals, one “Best Actress” and one “Best Supporting Actress”. The film stars Theresa Russell (“Black Widow”, “Spider-Man III”) and Hallee Hirsh (“ER”, “JAG”, “You’ve Got Mail”). Smith recently completed the feature documentary “The Daring Project”, which chronicles dancers from the Bolshoi, Kirov, NYC Ballet and ABT. Smith directed 16 episodes of the hit reality show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” for which she received an Emmy nomination – the same year the show won an Emmy. In 2008 Smith directed the television series “How To Look Good Naked” for Lifetime and the web series “Look Good in Pictures” for Nikon Camera. Both series featured Carson Kressley. Smith’s documentary on Title IX, “In the Game” received numerous awards, including Best Television Documentary of the Year from Women in Radio and Television. Smith has received grants for her work from Women In Film, the California Arts Council and AFI. She received her Masters degree in film from Stanford University and has extensive theatre directing experience as well. Smith teaches graduate and undergraduate directors in the UCLA film program, is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Women In Film, and honorary alumni of the American Film Institute where she participated in the Directing Workshop for Women.