There is something inspiring and something really memorable about Association for Consumer Research conference selected films. I’ve long forgotten even seeing some talks (not your talk of course, I remember it in breathtaking detail), but I have never forgotten at least an image or two from each film I’ve seen.
For those unaccustomed with the film festival format at academic conferences, it features a few films, none longer than 30 minutes (with one exception this year) followed by questions. Accordingly the festival often feels like a normal session just with video instead of talks. The topics are usually very related to topics one would see in experimental journals like Journal of Consumer Research, with topics like health and identity. The film festival can be best described as watching the most high quality and thought provoking journalism imaginable. I hope that description does not sit wrong with those in the film festival community, because I mean as the utmost praise.
To give you a taste of what’s on offer, watch this quick trailer for one of the talks this year. Even if you are not at ACR this year, you can watch all the trailers here and get a sense of the main hypotheses and topics of the videos. You can also reach out to the film-makers with questions and click through on the videos to Vimeo to see the entire cuts of the films right now.
Recently, I had chance to interview Professors Marylouise Caldwell and Paul Henry, the hosts of this years ACR. They make a great case for why, even if you are a hardcore experimental researcher, the film festival is great place to stop by.
What is the goal of the film festival?
[Caldwell and Henry] To have a really great film festival experience. We encourage folks to attend sessions that from their own perspective are likely to offer rich visual and/or tantalizing research realms.
What are the topics this year?
This year there is plenty on offer, our films ranging from explorations of conflicting consumption ideals in Cuba, how contemporary consumers are dealing with excessive boredom in the face of an interminably technologically stimulating world, what happens when aesthetically gifted consumers move from consumption to production and how their struggle with maintaining feelings of individuality and authenticity, how material objects enact amazingly forceful agency even in mundane settings to how various performances manifest and evolve in both marketplace and leisure-based settings.
What do you want students to get from your session?
We think the film festival facilitates looking at the world of consumption in a different way. Sometimes it transports us out of the halls of academe into places that we have never been, other times we suddenly have flashes of recognition and identification with other consumers that have eluded us up until now, often we experience emotions and sensations that allow us to appreciate consumer behaviour from a radically different perspective and finally we can sometimes sit back and appreciate just how the dynamic and stimulating our field of study can be.
Now for a personal question: What is one thing you love about the ACR conference?
The sheer intellectual stimulation, excitement of meeting and talking with like-minded others and the tremendous generosity of presenters and their audiences during post seminar discussions.
One more personal question: Are you excited about anything specific for this ACR?
Chicago, Chicago, Chicago – what a wonder town! Plus catching up with many old friends and making new ones, especially film-makers new to our field.
Finally, here’s one more trailer, because the text in the trailer is just hilarious.