Film Professor Anikó Imre's Lecture on Eastern European "Service Countries" and Streaming Platform Imperialism


The Latvian Academy of Culture (LAC) and the Riga International Film Festival (RIGA IFF) invite you to join a lecture by Anikó Imre. Imre is a film scholar of Hungarian origin and a Professor of cinema at the University of Southern California. The lecture will take place on 19 October at 13:30 in the Vault Hall of the Splendid Palace cinema (61 Elizabetes iela, Riga). In this lecture, titled “Semi-Peripheral Service Media Industries: a Marriage between Nation-Branding and Media Imperialism?”, the guest lecturer will tackle an increasingly common phenomenon in the film industry where Western countries and global streaming platforms shoot films and tv series of a certain type and genre in Eastern European countries. The lecture will be held in English. No pre-registration required.

Anikó Imre is an internationally respected scholar. She is currently a Professor at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, and author of several monographs, among them, TV Socialism (2016) and Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Media Cultures in the New Europe (2009). Her research interests include post-socialism, media in the European cultural space, critical feminism, race and nationalism, post-colonialism, television and film history, among many others.

In 2005, Imre wrote that "returning to Europe" had become an indispensable slogan in Eastern European politics and rhetoric. This message by the Hungarian film scholar has now taken on new forms and connotations, considering that this is a time when the Ukrainian people have been plunged into a war in the middle of Europe and Eastern European countries and their cultures are seeking to decolonise their present and re-evaluate their past.

Imre will be in Riga to give a lecture on the production of transnational content in Eastern European capitals, which have emerged to become global hubs of runaway production in the past few decades. Content producers have taken advantage of significant incentives such as high tax rebates, a skilled and inexpensive workforce, and reduced labour and environmental regulations in the region. Mobile media industries are generally seen in a “purely” economic light, where labour exploitation and peripherality are considered a depoliticised economic exchange that benefits both states and corporations.

One reason for this is that East European service industries play a central role in commercial nationalism or nation-branding. Not only can what is in some cases a centralised and oppressive domestic media environment coexist with a state-funded infrastructure built to produce borderless popular entertainment, but the latter can stand in for political participation domestically and prove the viability of a nation-state as modern and democratic.

Imre will integrate studies of platform imperialism and critical media industry studies with culturalist and postcolonial approaches to focus on two major areas of currency in marketing “commercial nationalism” through the mobile service industries: the range of places for which East European locations, including cities, castles, mountains and rivers, typically double up to represent other places; and the typical genres that these locations invite, most prominently spy drama, horror, and high fantasy. 

The lecture is financially supported by the Latvian Academy of Culture and RIGA IFF. RIGA IFF receives support from the State Culture Capital Foundation, the Riga City Council, the National Film Centre, and Creative Europe MEDIA.

The Facebook event page for the lecture is available here.