Films about pandemics have been part of cinema at least since the 1918 worldwide influenza epidemic. Join Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai Director, Ravina Aggarwal, in conversation with Columbia University Professor of Film Studies, Richard Peña, as they explore the narrative features and social aspects of pandemics in cinema, using examples drawn from a range of international films, including Contagion (2011), Flu (2013) and Virus (2019), that have tried to imagine a world all of us have recently entered.
About the Speakers:
Richard Peña is a Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he specializes in film theory, film history and international cinema. From 1988 to 2012, he was the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival. At the Film Society, Professor Peña organized retrospectives of many film artists, as well as major film series devoted to African, Israeli, Cuban, Polish, Hungarian, Chinese, Arab, Korean, Swedish, Turkish, Taiwanese and Argentine cinema. A frequent lecturer on film internationally, has lectured at Princeton University, Harvard University, the National Autonomous University of Mexico and Beijing University, among others. Professor Pena received his Masters in Film Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and currently hosts WNET/Channel 13’s weekly Reel 13.
Ravina Aggarwal has been the Director of the Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai since 2015. She is a sociocultural anthropologist with a doctoral degree from Indiana University in 1994. Dr. Aggarwal taught in the Department of Anthropology at Smith College, where she became a tenured faculty member. Her research is based on extensive fieldwork in the Himalayas and her areas of study and teaching included political anthropology, peace-building, cultural studies, gender, and development. Prior to joining the Mumbai Center, Dr. Aggarwal worked at the Ford Foundation’s New Delhi office from 2007-2015, where she was responsible for strategic planning and grant-making for programs on development, social justice and public policy, with a focus on the fields of education, media and information technology, and arts and culture. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Mumbai-based Urban Design Research Institute and is one of the two founders of the Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation. Dr. Aggarwal is the author of several publications, including Beyond Lines of Control: Performing the Border in Ladakh, India (Duke University Press, Seagull Books) and the editor of Into the High Ranges (Penguin India) and Forsaking Paradise (Katha). She has recently completed Songbird (forthcoming Zubaan), a mystery novel for young adults set in the Himalayas.