Call for Papers

Alternative Film Canons: from B to Z
Issue 21, Summer 2023

Co-Editors-in-Chief: Rebecca Cavanagh & Hal Young
Book Review Editor: Wesley Kirkpatrick

December 2022 saw the publication of the latest edition of the BFI Sight & Sound Top 100 Films List. The updated selection of films announced a welcome shift to the long-established film canon. Yet, since the publication of the previous Sight and Sound Poll in 2012, the attitudes and cultures surrounding film canons have become much more ambiguous, owing partly to the proliferation of streaming platforms (both “official” and “unofficial”), and film forums like Letterboxd. As a result, the modern definition of cult film has taken on a new, arguably less defined meaning. 

By just glancing through the latter’s trending user-created lists, one can witness several alternative cult film canons. Many of these more popular lists, like Chaotic Cinema and Weirdo Watchlist, appeal to the growing interest in films that are often wildly unconventional and often described as “bizarre”. These lists are not made in opposition to the established film canon, but rather, they run parallel to it, celebrating films that are often ignored in critical circles, either for their perceived lack of quality, or even just because of their general obscurity. In other words, the films celebrated in these alternative canons are often too “cult” to be classified as such.  

Through exploring online distribution and discussion of film, along with the lesser-known films that are often discovered through these forums, we hope that this issue of Frames will draw greater attention, and appreciation, towards works that are rarely discussed in mainstream critical circles. 

Topics may include (but are certainly not limited to) approaches to: 

  • Abjection and obscenity cinema 
  • Esoteric Film 
  • Viewing Rituals 
  • Distribution and censorship 
  • Cross-cultural definitions of cult status and international cinema 
  • Cult Fandoms 
  • Festivals 
  • Underground Film 
  • Online film communities (e.g., Letterboxd, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr) and virtual streaming platforms (e.g., Netflix, Shudder, Spotify, YouTube, RareFilmm etc
  • Curation  
  • Amateur Filmmaking 
  • Badfilm 
  • Outsider cinema  

Notes for Contributors: 

Proposal abstracts  should be no more than  250 words and must be accompanied by an  indicative bibliography. A  brief third-person bio of approx. 150 words  should be provided along with the abstract. Abstracts for  video essays  are encouraged and should follow the same guidelines. The bibliography should include anticipated sources for moving images. 

Abstracts should be sent as Word Documents and titled “Frames Issue 21 [Author First name Author Surname]” (e.g. Frames Issue 21 Hal Young). 

Please submit your proposal to Hal Young and Rebecca Cavanagh at 

Frames  accepts a variety of written pieces for submission, such as: 

  • Feature Articles, which are research essays that engage in theoretical, practical, pedagogical, and/or historical analysis of the visual narrative in film or related digital media. Feature Articles are typically between 5,000-7,000 words in length, inclusive of footnotes, but exclusive of the bibliography. 
  • Point-of-View (POV) Featurettes, which are shorter research essays which seek to examine or express a specific critique about a theme in a more succinct fashion. These could include experiences with moving-image archives in digital or material contexts. POV Featurettes are typically between 1,000-3,000 words in length, inclusive of footnotes, but exclusive of the bibliography. 
  • Scene Reviews, which are shorter research essays, investigate and review one scene in detail. Scene Reviews are typically between 1,000-2,000 words in length, inclusive of footnotes, but exclusive of the bibliography. 
  • Film Featurettes, which are shorter research essays, discuss and review one film in detail. Film Featurettes are typically between 1,000-3,000 words in length, inclusive of footnotes, but exclusive of the bibliography. 
  • Book Reviews, which are essays that provide a scholarly critique of the latest texts in the field. The text choice may range from the theoretical and the practical to the pedagogical and the historical. Book Reviews are typically 1,000-1,500 words in length, inclusive of footnotes, but exclusive of the bibliography. If you would like to publish a book review, please contact our  Book Review Editor, Wesley Kirkpatrick, at 

Frames  also accepts and encourages video essay submissions: 

·  Video essays  can be of varying length and should be discussed with the editors on a case-by-case basis. Video essay submissions must be sent to the editors in the form of a link using an online platform (Vimeo, YouTube, etc.). 

All submissions to Frames should not be under consideration elsewhere and should be original and previously unpublished. 

Please refer to our  Submissions page  for more details. 

Timetable for Issue 21: 

Abstract Proposal Deadline:  21/04/2023 

Abstract Decision Announcement:  28/04/2023 

First Draft Deadline:  19/05/2023 

Editorial Review:  19/05/2023 – 09/06/2023 

Final Copy Deadline:  07/07/2023  

Intended Publication Week:  28/08/2023 

Abstracts are to be submitted no later than Friday 21st April 2023 at 6pm – any abstracts submitted after this date will not be considered. Authors should expect to be notified of the editorial committee’s decision by  Friday 28th April 2023. 

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at 

Rebecca Cavanagh & Hal Young 


Wesley Kirkpatrick 

Book Review Editor 

Frames Cinema Journal 

Department of Film Studies | School of Philosophical, Anthropological, and Film Studies | University of St Andrews 

101 North Street, St Andrews, KY16 9AD, UK 


Twitter:  @FramesJournal  


* This CFP’s banner image is a desaturated screencap from Lam Nai-Choi’s film ‘Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky’ (1991). Courtesy of Orange Sky Golden Harvest.