CineLab • Seminar

The Film-Phil Lisbon Seminars: Robert Sinnerbrink

What is a Philosophical Reading of Film? On Film-Philosophy and Philosophical Film Criticism

The FILM AND DEATH project, hosted by the NOVA University Lisbon, is happy to announce the The Film-Phil Lisbon Seminars series (2023-2024). The first session will be led by Prof. Robert Sinnerbrink (Philosophy, Macquarie University) who will talk about “What is a Philosophical Reading of Film? On Film-Philosophy and Philosophical Film Criticism”. The session will be held on November 22, 2023, at 11:00 AM (Lisbon time) / 09:00 PM (Sydney time).


In this talk I wish to explore the ways in which philosophers of film and film-philosophers write about cinema and examine the kind of critical hermeneutic practices they deploy in various approaches to the idea of “film as philosophy”. As many critics maintain, there are important methodological questions raised by the role of philosophical interpretation of film and more explicit philosophical film criticism (e.g., Stanley Cavell’s readings of film) and how these approaches relate to but also differ from more familiar forms of film analysis and interpretation. The question of what makes a particular reading or interpretation of a film “philosophical”, however, has received surprisingly little attention within the “film as philosophy” debate. In my talk I shall outline some of the main approaches to this question (illustrative/exemplary interpretations; critical aesthetic interpretations; critical symptomatic interpretations; and dialogical/reflective interpretations), suggesting that one common feature that philosophical readings share — or ought to share — is a concern to stage a mutually reflective or critically transformative encounter between cinema and philosophy. This does not mean reducing film to philosophy or philosophy to film but exploring what I have elsewhere called a “hermeneutic parallelism” between cinematic expression and philosophical reflection.


Robert Sinnerbrink is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Macquarie University, Sydney. He is the author of New Philosophies of Film: An Introduction to Cinema as a Way of Thinking (Bloomsbury, 2022), Terrence Malick: Filmmaker and Philosopher (Bloomsbury, 2019), Cinematic Ethics: Exploring Ethical Experience through Film (Routledge, 2016), New Philosophies of Film: Thinking Images (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2011), and Understanding Hegelianism (Acumen, 2007/Routledge 2014). He is also a member of the editorial boards of the journals Film-Philosophy, Film and Philosophy, and Projections: The Journal of Movies and Mind.

The series is part of the ERC project “FILM AND DEATH – Film-Philosophy as a Meditation on Death”. Note that this lecture will be held uniquely online. Please, register in advance here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Funded by the European Union (ERC, FILM AND DEATH, 101088956). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.