Photo of Professor William Higbee

Professor William Higbee

Research interests


My primary research interests include:

·      contemporary French cinema

·      Francophone cinema (especially cinemas of the Maghreb)

·      immigrant, postcolonial and diasporic cinema

·      transnational cinemas.

To date I have written two single-authored monographs, co-edited three books, authored 13 individual book chapters for edited collections and published 12 journal articles in peer-reviewed, international academic journals.

My early research focused on representations of marginality and ethnicity in French cinema of the 1990s, such as 'Beur' cinema and the banlieue film. This led to the publication in 2006 of a monograph on director and actor Mathieu Kassovitz for the Manchester University Press French Directors series. I propose that Kassovitz's films function as both a site of tension and a point of intersection for debates surrounding the current state of ‘popular' French cinema, in particular its relationship to Hollywood, and a broader range of socio-political issues (racism, exclusion, violence) facing contemporary France.

A second, related strand of my research concerns Maghrebi-French and North African émigre filmmaking in France since the late 1990s. To study these films and filmmakers, I have employed an approach grounded in the debates surrounding diasporic, 'accented' and transnational cinema. The monograph that emerged from this research, Post-Beur Cinema (EUP, 2013), is the first book-length study of Maghrebi-French and North African émigré filmmaking in France in the 2000s and argues for the 2000s as a transformative decade for ethnic minority filmmaking in France. The book was described by Professor James Williams in his review for French Studies as “…a major study of one of the most exciting and vital areas of contemporary French cinema.” 

Alongside this interest in French and francophone cinema, my research engages more broadly with questions of how we might theorise cinema as a transnational, industrial art form. In 2010 I co-authored an article with Professor Song Hwee Lim entitled ‘Concepts of transnational cinema: towards a critical transnationalism in film studies’. The article was published in the inaugural edition of the journal Transnational Cinemas and has been widely cited by scholars, providing a significant contribution to shaping the direction of debates in the area of transnational cinema studies. 

In August 2015, I was awarded a Research Grant from the AHRC of £482,132 to lead a major, three-year international research project on Transnational Moroccan Cinema (see section on 'Research Collaboration' for more details. 

I have been invited to speak at various international conferences and festivals, including: the Arte East Film Festival, New York (2007), the JCC Carthage Film Festival, Tunis (2010), an international symposium on cinema and the crisis of globalization in La Bretesche, France, (2012) and to Chicago as part of a special panel on French cinema at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference (2013). In November 2015 I delivered the keynote address at the European Communication Research and Education Association’s (ECREA) ‘European Cinemas, Intercultural Meetings’ conference in Copenhagen (12-13th November, 2015).


Research collaborations

In August 2015, I was awarded a Research Grant from the AHRC of £482,132 to lead a major, three-year international research project on Transnational Moroccan Cinema.

I am the pricipal investigator in a team consisting of a US-based international co-investigator and two post-doc research fellows: one based in UK and Morocco, the other in Belgium. The project began in December 2015 and will facilitate collaboration with partner institutions in Morocco (Ecole Supérieure des Arts Visuels [ESAV], Marrakech and Marrakech International Film Festival) and the UK (Africa in Motion Film Festival, Edinburgh, and the London Film School).

An international symposium will be held in conjunction with ESAV during the 2016 Marrakech international film festival. A second sympoisum will be held in Edinburgh in 2018 as part of the Africa in Motion film festival, which will also include a programme of contemporary Moroccan films curated for the festival by the project team.

Finally, as PI, I will be working closely with the London Film School, who will host two emerging Moroccan filmmakers for 12 weeks in 2017. These filmmakers  in residence will participate fully in the life of the school, collaborating with staff and students from the LFS to produce work that will feature at the Africa in Motion festival in 2018.