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Film Curating studies area aims to provide training in the conceptualisation, development, management and dissemination of all kinds of programmes in which cinema and the audio-visual arts play the leading role

The Film Curating course aims to define the specific nature of this profession which has excellent future prospects, but still needs recognition of an epistemological corpus of its own. The speciality provides access to the entire torrent of theoretical knowledge, partly inherited from the plastic arts, which film curating is based on, as well as access to the various programming traditions and schools. As well as cultivating the particular criteria and vision of each participant, the course provides the tools to develop film projects (either black box or white box), from the conception to the implementation phase. The speciality fosters the work of the curator in relation to research, criticism, essays and the academic field. We understand there are no curator jobs that do not include a research aspect; research that is as rigorous and in-depth as that of the academic world, but which in this case it is realised in a public project (an exhibition, a catalogue, a programme, a festival...), rather than a scientific text.

One of the basic features of the Film Curating studies is that is carried out in permanent contact with the professionals and teachers at the institutions that are responsible for this and who work in the same building on a wide variety of curatorial projects, such as Tabakalera, as the International Centre for Contemporary Culture, or the San Sebastián Film Festival.

María Palacios Cruz
Coordinator of the Department of Film Curating Studies

María Palacios Cruz is a curator (Tate Britain, London; Union Docs, New York; Cinematek, Brussels; Impakt, Utrecht; Centre Pompidou, Paris…) and a teacher (School of Graphic Research & Royal Academy of Fine Arts, in Brussels, and Kingston University and Central Saint Martins, in London). She writes in publications and books about cinema and motion pictures and is the co-founder of the London publishing company, The Visible Press, specialising in this artistic discipline. She was in charge of the Courtisane Festival in Belgium and at the present time she is deputy director of LUX (based in London), one of the most important distributors of independent and experimental films in the world.

“The Film Curating Studies programme proposes to consider curating as an essential aspect of an integrated film practice, intrinsically connected to the Archiving and Filmmaking programmes. Cinema comes to life through its encounter with the spectator - whether it takes place in the film theatre, online, in an exhibition, or even a text.

The film curator enables that encounter, both by providing a critical context for the work and guaranteeing the quality of its presentation, and by mediating it to the audience; working with and between artists, institutions, technicians and spectators. A thoughtful custodian rather than a gatekeeper, the film curator should be first and foremost a passeur, to quote Serge Daney.

This programme is both professionally oriented - looking at practical questions derived from curating and writing about moving images in both film and art contexts, with input from a number of professionals in the field - as well as conceptual, advocating for a holistic understanding of cinema and defending, just as Henri Langlois famously did at Cinémathèque Française, that there are not two or three kinds of cinema, but only one".


María Palacios Cruz

Conceptualisation and full development in cinema and audio-visual arts


  Module 1 Module 2 Module 3 Module 4 Module 5

Core Subjects 

The map of the (three) archives History of the materiality of cinema

The filmmaker's thinking: practice and theory

The sound point of view  The spectator-filmmaker

Module details

Curating and film programming theoretical approaches  Film apparatus, spaces and materiality of cinema  Project management: programming (I) Project management: programming (II)  Project
expanded cinema

Main subjects

Festival under
Festival under
Festival under
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  Screens Screens Screens Screens Screens
  Key concepts of
curatorship thinking
(applied to film and
The other film camera Writing and critical
thought (II)
Programming models,
criteria, schools and
paradigms (III)
Film and video in the
space of contemporary
  Peculiarities of film
Film as an off-screen
experience: contraction
and expansion of film
Programming models,
criteria, schools and
paradigms (I) & (II)
Curatorships, mediation
and public audiences
Moving words, moving
images: writing about
artists' cinema
  Spaces of exhibition:
black box and white cube  
Writing and critical
thought I
    Curators as producers
Meeting, optative subjects and other events

Histories of cinema


Critique and analysis

Histories of cinema


Critique and analysis

Histories of cinema


Critique and analysis

Histories of cinema


Critique and analysis

Histories of cinema


Critique and analysis

Tabakalera programme          


Common Subjects

  • The map of the (three) archives

    The cinematographic and audio-visual archive is today a vast and extensive territory that demands the attention of research, conservation and creation professionals. It is by no means a static storage area, but rather a territory which, depending on why it is approached, offers different readings and possibilities of intervention. The subject poses the possibility that students of EQZE assume their role (creator, researcher, curator) as an exploration of the cinematographic and audio-visual memory.

  • History of the materiality of cinema

    There are as many cinemas as (not only optical but also haptic) materialities of cinema. This subject proposes an approach to the filmmaker based on his/her materiality to unravel not only the most relevant technological milestones, but also the ways in which the materiality of the image has contributed to generate specific artistic discourses. The subject will focus initially on the materiality (resolution, texture, colour) of the sensitive photochemical material and then progressively look at other magnetic and digital types of audio-visual media.

  • The filmmaker's thinking: practice and theory

    An approach to the theory of creation by filmmakers before or after their films: as a film project or as a reflection on the work itself. In all cases, the theory of filmmakers seeks an approach to the fundamental aesthetic dilemmas of the medium and a reading of cinematographic thinking away from traditional methodologies. Accordingly, the subject also looks at purely intuitive and non-reflective approaches, contrary to the rationalization of creation.

  • The sound point of view

    Analysis of sound in cinema, looking for connections with other contemporary manifestations of sound, such as music and art, but also with the sound dimension of everyday life.

  • No more films

    In a world in which our visual palate is constantly being bombarded with an overdose of images, it is more urgent than ever to question the relevance of any new cinematographic production. What can we do to ensure that our efforts do not give rise to just ‘one more film’? Does our story/idea really need to be turned into a film, or would another artistic genre be more suitable? Based on disciplines outside the film world, such as literature or comic books, this workshop aims to analyse strategies for both inspiring a story and articulating its main thread, creating offerings rooted in highly personal experiences or autobiographies, or using a more literary approach.

  • Aesthetics of reception

    Thinking about cinema from reception does not imply doing so based on the box office results of a film or its audience, but rather on the role played by viewers in the complete meaning of any film. Their active or passive role, the place given to them in the film, the processes of identification and distance, the generation of estrangement and the mechanisms of emotion and empathy are all essential components of cinematographic creation examined in the subject. The subject questions all these matters because, in short, to think cinema from the point of view of reception means to assume that there is no filmmaker who is not, first and foremost, an active viewer.

  • Basque film: a cinematography with tradition, an emerging cinematography

    This course suggests an approach to Basque film. Beginning with an historical contextualization in order to provide the background of the birth and development of Basque film up to the present time, it will carry out a chronological and thematic review of the history of Basque film and will present the most notable Basque filmmakers from its origins to the present day, with particularly close attention to the three (or more) generations of Basque filmmakers who are currently active.

Itinerary subjects

  • Film and video in the space of contemporary art

    An in-depth look at the funding of contemporary films at home and abroad. The subject avails itself of a detailed analysis of sources of funds to draw up a map of alternative resources: festivals, forums, foundations, sponsorship, subsidies, internships, competitions, self-funding and patronages. It draws comparisons between the financing of films and the financing of audiovisual art, in a bid to find connections and cooperation to help depict the economic panorama in which films are emerging in the 21st century.

  • Festival under construction

    A cross-curricular subject directed by the San Sebastián Film Festival in which the preparations for the forthcoming edition of the festival are explained and a reflection is proposed on the nature of film festivals in the 21st century. The San Sebastián Film Festival will be the starting point and will serve as a case study based on which it re-thinks itself.

  • Programming models, criteria, schools and paradigms III

    Continuing the work done in module 3, this subject looks at film programming via specific cases covering both regular arrangements (at film libraries and permanent establishments) and more concentrated arrangements (festivals and one-off events). It deals with conceptual issues concerned with programming and practical organisational matters (such as budgeting, funding, the negotiating of rights, showing, etc.).

  • Curatorships, mediation and public audiences

    To a large extent curators act as intermediaries between the project and society. Although all the work they do ultimately comes under public scrutiny, an essential component of this process is a specific examination of communication and final mediation, to usher in a certain amount of circularity, exchange, dialogue and mutual enrichment, including the artist or the director. The subject avails itself of a heterogeneous plural vision of public audiences to address these issues.

  • Spaces for exhibition and exposure. Black box vs. white box

    Films are examined on the basis of a categorisation of exhibition areas. The complex history of movie screens has recently been enhanced by screens in galleries and rooms in museums, propitiating new ways of going to the cinema. In addition to its analysis of the theoretical implications and major case studies, the subject offers tools for a practical examination of spatial adaptation of a curatorship project or a programming project.

  • Programming models, criteria, schools and paradigms

    This subject conducts a detailed examination of the various film programming paradigms, both those emerging on a regular basis over time (in archives and stable centres) and those concentrated in certain periods (one-off events and festivals). The subject features a historic/conceptual journey which pauses to dwell on specific creators, spaces and projects which have turned programming into an art of “putting on films”.

  • Drawing up and scheduling curatorship projects

    The purpose of this methodological subject is a breakdown of sections, requisites, approaches and tools to draw up a curatorship project. Setting the project out in a written document is an essential step in terms of sharing and materialising this idea. This phase constitutes the initial specification of the project, and in this regard it is an ultimate test of its sense of reality and its feasibility. The subject examines practical issues in relation to styles of documents, styles of writing, indexing and structure, among others.

  • Writing and critical thought 2

    Continuation of the section on writing and development of critical thought. Here it addresses the generation of thought on the basis of writing with images. Particular emphasis will be laid on audiovisual essays, in a bid to produce critical thought generated using the film industry’s own media.

  • The other film camera

    A theoretical reflection and practical exercise in forms of projection. Learning to project, exploring the vision and experience of projectors, from the magic lantern to the DCP.

  • Film production and ideation processes: the curator as producer

    Curators often play the role of an agent in the ideation and management of a film project, i.e. in the production of a film or a number of films. Although the origins of the productions may differ from the usual procedures, production processes adhere to the same criteria. From this analytic viewpoint, the subject takes a practical look at the work of the curator as the initiator and driver of cinematographic or audiovisual productions.

  • Film apparatus and technological mediation

    The peculiarities of exhibition facilities to create the emotional and intellectual experience of films have been the focus of theoretical reflection since the 70s. Moreover, the changes introduced in recent years with new digital projection systems and a network strewn with images from Internet, from the point of view of creation, and therefore of curators, have made a huge star of film equipment, not only in the sense of necessary intermediate technology, but as an agent actively creating emotions. This subject focuses on an analysis, comparison and examination of apparatus and technological mediation.

  • Screens

    This subject is therefore a space for joint reflection on the way that we programme film and audiovisual work in a space like Tabakalera. We will start out from the beginnings of the project, the plans, and the decisions that we had to take about the physical nature and characteristics of the spaces.; we will review the three years that we have been working and we will learn about what similar art centres do in the rest of the world; and we will embark on a hypothesis in which we imagine a film theatre and cinema open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year: endless cinema. 

  • Key concepts of curatorship thinking

    Introduction to curatorship thinking. Not only does the subject take students on a historical voyage of developments in museology, exhibitions, collectionism, artistic programming and the emergence of independent curators, but it also touches on the key concepts of contemporary artistic curatorship.

  • Writing and critical thought 1

    The need to activate critical thought in relation to the film industry and to seek ways of developing it in a practical manner by means of exercises and readings forms the basis of this two-part subject which appears throughout the entire course. The first part addresses writing about images and sounds, while the second focuses on writing with images and sounds.

  • Peculiarities of film curatorships

    Reflection on cinematographic exhibitions has been with films since the outset, but conceptualisation is an extremely recent topic and is still being systematised. The subject attempts to furnish an accurate definition of knowledge and action in connection with film curatorship, its relationship with other activities such as preservation and the archive, its predominant role in creation and its responsibility in expanding new spaces of cinematographic exhibition.

  • Curator's editorial work: catalogues and publications

    This class considers editorial aspects of curatorial practice, both conceptually and practically: from programme notes and festival catalogues to magazines, books and other kinds of publications. The subject is divided in two parts: in one hand, through specific projects and historical examples, Mark Webber proposes a look at print production, interviews, editing, proofreading, book design & layout, printing and distribution. On the other hand, discussions on the students’ “Hipótesis” book project will be held. Garbiñe Ortega will be in charge of the follow-up; she will offer advice and feedback on its development.