Spatializing cinema exhibition: Methodological challenges in the geographical visualization of film circulation and cinema location



Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
Description Over the past few years, many historical research projects adopted an approach rewriting cinema history ‘from below’ (Maltby, 2006) by focusing not on the strategies of production and distribution companies, but zooming in on the local practices of cinemas, film exhibition and consumption (Maltby, Biltereyst and Meers, 2011). The use of spatial analysis and visualization of local historical cinema cultures, however, has been very rare as research practice. The circulation of films between cinemas is one aspect of the wide range of research questions within this field, with a considerable spatial dimension. Tracking films and their trajectories through the cinemas around the city forms a part of several cinema historical studies (e.g. Lotze and Meers, 2013; Verhoeven, 2013), but the relations to the geospatial context are developed only occasionally. In this paper, we will focus on the methodology of tracing the paths of films and visualizing them on maps with the help of the open source geographic information system, QGIS. The central objective is to establish whether the methodology of mapping to analyze the circulation of films is efficient and strong, and to identify its benefits as well as limitations. At the same time, we look for hitherto unknown relations between cinemas and the patterns of films moving in a city. For this paper, we will rely on data coming from a large-scale research project on historical cinema cultures in Antwerp and Ghent in Belgium (1952).