Noir building? Understanding the immersive fandom of Noir City

Gill Jamieson, Anne McVitie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Noir City has become one of San Francisco’s most popular film festivals with residents and visitors alike. Moreover, the event has been franchised and now takes place in other major US cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, Portland, Kansas, Austin and Washington D.C. This research project explores fan engagement with film noir through the festival, deploying a participant-observational approach which is primarily immersive. The investigation explores the appeal of a sub-genre which typically features characters in dark urban settings on the margins of society, distinguished by their ability to navigate the threatening underbelly of the city. We draw on recent scholarship on participatory cultures such as Paul Booth’s work on games (2015), in which he argues that the construction of ‘detailed worlds…strengthen and cohere these cult worlds (and) can actually make these storyworlds more real’ (177, emphasis in the original). The objective has been to identify the unique package of attractions film noir and events like Noir City pose for the fan. What is it that appeals in the ‘typical’ noir universe? To what extent do they identify and engage with a ‘typical’ noir world? We speak to actual fans and participants at a number of events to get their view of film noir as, to adapt Umberto Eco’s concept (1987) a ‘living text’ that continues to resonate far beyond the classic era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-552
JournalParticipations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies
Volume13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

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