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 FILM COURSE. EUTOPIAS: THE SEARCH FOR THE 'GOOD PLACE' IN FILM

29 September - 15 December 2021

FILM COURSE. EUTOPIAS: THE SEARCH FOR THE 'GOOD PLACE' IN FILM

Time: Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.

Utopia is usually thought of as a chimera, an impossible projection from a dark present to a better, yet also unreachable, future time. The term was coined by Thomas More in 1516 in his work of the same name—in one of the possible interpretations—from the Greek words ou (which expresses negation) and tópos (place): that is, ‘nowhere,’ according to the first English translation, or ‘no hay tal lugar (there is no such place),’ as translated into Spanish a century later by Francisco de Quevedo. 

However, other interpretations take the view that More meant his neologism to stem from (which expresses kindness) and tópos: in other words, a good or happy place. And this is what he says of the island of Utopia itself: ‘Not Utopia, rather my name is Eutopia, the Country of Happiness.’

More founded his utopia, therefore, on an intended ambivalence between the necessary desire for it to exist and the impossibility of its achievement. Utopia is a promise, a ‘good place’ that does not exist… yet. Because utopian desire, like every prospective imagining, casts itself towards the eutopian realisation of said desire: those who do not agree with their reality dream of a better world; always, however, as Herbert Marcuse defended, intending that utopia become topia, a reality that will, in the end, come about.

As such, utopia is no longer a chimera or fanciful tale bearing no relationship with history: its desire to be a reality renders it a tale anchored in its time, which, furthermore, proliferates in times of crisis. This is why utopia is as necessary today as it has always been. But the social utopias that aim to create ‘the best of worlds’ often result in the opposite: in the dark discourse of ‘anti-utopia’ or dystopia. Thus, in this course we are going to take the intimate tangent that will take us away from ‘social utopia’ towards ‘individual (personal, but transferrable) utopia.’ Because perhaps the only utopia possible, as Lewis Mumford defends, is our own life—here and now—taken to the limits of its ideal possibilities.


Course programme

29 September. THE HORIZON: Modern Times (Charles Chaplin, 1936)

6 October. MEMORY (AND ANTICIPATION) OF THE SOUTH: El Sur (Víctor Erice, 1983)

13 October. IMPOSSIBLE MEMORY: How Green Was My Valley (John Ford, 1941)

20 October. THE RECOVERED PAST: The Beaches of Agnès (Agnès Varda, 2008)

27 October. THE OLD “NEW WORLD”: The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

10 November. THE DREAM OF THE WEST: First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2019)

17 November. THE FAMILY HOME: Summer 1993 (Carla Simón, 2017)

24 November. CHILDHOOD: Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano, 1999)

1 December. SUMMER: Our Beloved Month of August (Miguel Gomes, 2008)

15 DECEMBER. NATURE: Into the Wild (Sean Penn, 2007)


José Manuel López (Vigo, 1974) holds a PhD in Communication and is an Associate Professor at Vigo University. In 2004 he founded the film magazine Tren de sombras (2004-2008) and from 2007 until 2017 formed a part of the Editorial Board of Caimán Cuadernos de Cine (previously known as Cahiers du Cinéma. España).

In 2008 he coordinated the book Naomi Kawase. El cine en el umbral for the Las Palmas Film Festival and he has written many articles, chapters of books and given presentations at conferences. He has taught film courses at Vigo’s Museum of Contemporary Art and the Galician Centre of Contemporary Art since 2012. He has also given conferences at such renowned places as the Master LAV, the ESCAC, the CGAI, the Seminci, the Málaga Film Festival or Seville’s Centro de las Artes. He has curated exhibitions and screening cycles for the Luis Seoane Foundation, Curtocircuito, the Santiago de Compostela International Film Festival, Solar · Galería de Arte Cinemática or the Curtas de Vila do Conde Film Festival (Portugal). In 2020 he received the award for the best written essay on international audiovisual media at the IV Edition of the María Luz Morales Awards, granted by the Galician Audiovisual Academy.

AIMED AT: Teachers, students and all those interested in film.

PLACES: 60

REGISTRATION: Registration is open from 20 July to 27 September 2021. Those interested can send an email to cgac.educacion@xunta.gal which should include full name, national identity card number, academic record, field of work or interest, email address and contact number. When the application has been accepted, those registered will be informed of method of payment. 


The course will be face-to-face. In the event the auditorium’s capacity is limited due to the current health restrictions, the course will be moved online.

REGISTRATION: 30 €

CERTIFICATION: The CGAC will issue a certificate to all those who attend a minimum of 70 % of the sessions.

DIRECTOR: José Manuel López.

COORDINATOR: Virginia Villar.




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