The Ethics of Representation: Who Has the Right to Tell the Story?

CILECT North America
2023 Conference

Hosted by the Boston University Film and Television Department

The Ethics of Representation: Who Has the Right to Tell the Story?

The past decade has seen an explosion of new voices in the film and television industry. With this new generation of storytellers comes increased social consciousness and an awareness that representation doesn’t just mean featuring people of color on screen; representation means recognizing that diverse stories are owned by the communities they portray. For the first time, writers, directors, producers, casting agents, studio executives, and more are asking, “Whose story is this, and who has the right to tell it?” 

The answers are not always clear-cut. Can white writers tell Black, African and African-American stories? Is it appropriate for actors or actresses to wear prosthetics that make them appear heavier? Physically disabled? Blind? How far outside his or her own ethnic group can a screenwriter reach? Can other Black actors portray African characters? Can a cisgender screenwriter author a story featuring a transgender protagonist? Can a transgender writer author a story featuring a cisgender protagonist? As academics and practitioners, we must responsibly guide our students and ourselves toward ethical practices.

CNA’s June 2023 conference, hosted by Boston University, will explore these issues in depth. Through a series of panels, paper presentations, and working groups, we aim to engender constructive conversation and develop a framework for addressing our students’ most pressing concerns around the ethics and politics of representation. 


On Campus: Book a private bedroom at 10 Buick Street, in a shared apartment. 10 Buick Street is an air-conditioned residence hall located at Boston University. You will share the apartment with others attending the conference. Rooms are available from Wednesday, June 7-Monday, June 12, 2023. Make your reservation at 10 Buick Street.

Nearby: Book a hotel room near Boston University. The Hotel Commonwealth, 500 Commonwealth Avenue, a short walk to the east edge of the Boston University campus; Make your reservation at Hotel Commonwealth. The Residence Inn, 125 Brookline Avenue, is also close by. Make your reservation at group rate for Residence Inn/Fenway. Please note the last day to book is May 8, after which unreserved rooms will be released. 

Summary Info

Thursday, June 8, and Friday, 9, 2023
Academics, instructors, students and practitioners in the fields of film, television and creative expression.
Early Registration (3/13 – 3/31/23): $125.00
Regular Registration (4/1 – 5/14/23): $150.00
Late Registration (5/15 – 6/1/23): $175.00
Student registration (3/13 – 6/1/23): $50.00

Call for Presentation Proposals

The presentations should focus on the ethical challenges and/or best practices involved in telling other people’s stories through cinematic mediums. They can be from the perspective of one’s own creative work or one’s teaching practices, or both.

Possible areas of inquiry include, but are not restricted to, screenwriting, documentary filmmaking, producing, casting, and Film and Television Studies.

Submission details

  • Presentations will be 20 minutes long, followed by a 10-minute Q and A session.
  • Please submit a short description of your presentation, up to 200 words, to
  • The deadline for submitting proposals is March 17, 2023.
  • Please contact Michael Kowalski at if you have any questions.