Film and Empathy: Crossing Perspectives


06 June 2015, 16:00 – 18:30

Venue: Room 349 (Third Floor)
Senate House, South Block
, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Speakers: Vittorio Gallese (Neuroscience, University of Parma); Murray Smith (Film Theory, University of Kent); Alessandro Pignocchi (IJN, Paris)

Why are films so engaging? How does the moving image manage to make us feel for the characters on the screen? Do we really side with the characters in the story, or with the implicit observer on the other side of the camera? Looking at concepts such as ’empathy’ and ‘engagement’, as well as recent results from cognitive neuroscience, this event will provide an overview of recent shifts in our understanding of spectatorship and explore how our brains, minds and senses engage with films.


4-4.40pm Vittorio Gallese (Neuroscience, University of Parma) Visions of the Body: Cinema and Neuroscience

4.40-5.20pm Murray Smith (Film Theory, University of Kent) Film, Art, and the Third Culture

5.20-6pm Alessandro Pignocchi (IJN, Paris) Reading the Director’s Mind
6-6.30pm General Discussion

Vittorio Gallese is professor of Neuroscience at the University of Parma, internationally recognised for his work on mirror-neurons. He has published on experimental aesthetics, empathy and is a leading figure on new experimental approaches to film and art reception.

Murray Smith is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Kent, and President of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image. He has published widely on cognitive and evolutionary approaches to film, including Engaging Characters: Fiction, Emotion and the Cinema, and the forthcoming Film, Art, and the Third Culture.

Alessandro Pignocchi is a researcher trained in philosophy and cognitive science at the Institut Jean Nicod in Paris, and author of a recent book published in French, Why we like movies.


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