222 research outputs found

    Francophone Belgian cinema

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    Film/NotFilm

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    Although Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) showed a genuine interest in audio-visual media in his fascinating and innovative radio plays and television works, and in 1936 even wrote a letter to Sergei Eisenstein to be accepted to the famous Soviet film school VGIK, the 22-minute Film (1965) was his only venture into cinema. Beckett conceived the film, wrote the screenplay, supervised the production and, as one of the film’s crew members recalled and as the director Alan Schneider himself acknowledged, ‘Beckett directed the director’. Because the practice of filmmaking didn’t exactly turn out as the unexperienced Beckett had imagined, he considered the film to be a failure. The recent 4K restoration of Film by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, in cooperation with the British Film Institute, and the documentary/film essay NotFilm by UCLA restorer Ross Lipman, however, aim to bring Beckett’s Film back into the spotlight and stimulate a reappraisal of its remarkable qualities

    Nationalism and the cinema in France: political mythologies and film events, 1945-1995

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    Hugo Frey opens his book Nationalism and the cinema in France by positioning it as complementary to the rise of scholarship on the transnational dimensions of cinema. Although he sees transnational and national cinema as two sides of the same coin that are often interwoven, Frey concentrates on the latter, thereby focusing on France in the period 1945-1995. The aim of the book is twofold. On the one hand, Frey aims to discern the ‘political myths’ (p. 10, in keeping with Christopher Flood’s Political myth: a theoretical introduction, 1996) or ideological values of the narratives that films can incorporate, thereby looking in particular for ‘nationalistic subtexts’ (p. 4) in French films. At the methodological level, this implies a textual film analysis that is focused primarily on film narratives. On the other hand, Frey puts forward the concept of the ‘film event’ (p. 11, in keeping with Marco Ferro’s Cinéma et histoire, 1993) or the societal interactions that films can evoke. In this respect, he aims to examine how the reception of specific films is ‘coloured by nationalist discourses’ (p. 4). Methodologically, this implies a historical reception analysis of the public discourse surrounding the selected films. The in-depth analysis of an impressive number of both mainstream and specialist press writings is, without doubt, one of the main achievements of this book. Frey is at his best when describing and analyzing the public discourse surrounding the films (e.g. Claude Lelouch’s Un homme et une femme (1966), Andrzej Wajda’s Danton (1983) and many others), thereby providing interesting insights into the societal meaning of the films and the place of cinema in French public debates. According to the title and the two main goals of the book, one would expect a thorough discussion of the debates around the highly contested concepts of nation, nationalism, nation-building and national identity. Nevertheless, the book only briefly describes ‘the national idea’ as ‘a modern construct’ and France as an ‘imagined community’ (in keeping with Benedict Anderson’s well-known phrase) to which cinema can contribute (p. 7). Frey further adheres to Michel Winock’s distinction between a Republican imaginary of France as ‘socially inclusive and founded on the notion that citizenship is about a loyalty to the constitution’ and an organic or counter-revolutionary imaginary of France, which is based on ‘a perceived set of cultural values (…) and ethnic and cultural traditions and practice’ (p. 8). This short theoretical positioning leaves many conceptual questions unanswered; these include the basic use of the term ‘nationalism’ and its relation to the term ‘nation’, which is mostly used in the sense of a ‘country’. Also, the book is not embedded in the academic debate on the relationship between nationalism and cinema, and although Frey mentions authors like Jean-Michel Frodon, Ginette Vincendeau and Susan Hayward, who have elaborated on issues concerning the national question and cinema in France, minimal attention is given to discussions with these authors. Notwithstanding this lack of interaction with the existing academic debates, as well as some typographical inaccuracies (e.g. ‘Ernst Gellner’ (p. 7), ‘the Lumières brothers from Lyons’ (p. 24)), Nationalism and the cinema in France offers an original and meticulously researched historical investigation of a highly interesting selection of French cinema culture. The originality of the book is, for example, clearly exemplified by the first chapter, which gives a fresh reading of François Truffaut’s La nuit Américaine (1973); Agnès Varda’s one hundred years of cinema commemoration film Les cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma (1995) and other films about films (including critical and even sarcastic works by Jean-Luc Godard and Bertrand Blier), which have, for the most part, been previously interpreted in cinephilic terms rather than as celebrations of the greatness of France as the home of cinema. One of the merits of this book is indeed the revelation of how subtle and very often unnoticed forms of nation-building can be present in a modern society, which Frey rightly links to Michael Billig’s concept of ‘banal nationalism’. Chapter two, which addresses how a selection of French films has mediated national history (particularly wartime resistance), and chapter three, on the nationalist subtexts of (mainly the reception of) Claude Lelouch’s Un homme et une femme (1966) and other melodramas from the 1960s and 1970s, complete the first part of the book, which offers an analysis of how cinema has contributed, often in subtle and sophisticated ways, to discourses of French grandeur, pride and glory. The second part of the book consists of four chapters that focus on more negatively defined and often much more explicit and essentialist nationalistic discourses concentrating on the role of non-French ‘others’ (what Frey refers to as ‘hard nationalism’). Frey begins with an examination of the anti-Americanism that runs through the French protests against economic and trade agreements that are seen to threaten French cinema culture, whereby he notices that such anti-Americanism is much less (explicitly) present in individual films. The following chapter scrutinizes how certain types of films (particularly action films) ‘perpetuated patriotic and defensive colonialist myths and stereotypes’ (p. 129), after which he focuses on the public controversy in France around films referring to the Algerian War of Independence (particularly Gillo Pontecorvo’s La bataille d'Alger (1966)). Next, Frey discusses anti-Semitic elements in French films and cinema culture, with special attention to the short period in 1989 when director Claude Autant-Lara was elected as a member of the European Parliament for the far-right Front National and caused controversy with his anti-Semitic statements. The final chapter of the book examines the extreme-right sympathies of Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot and Gérard Blain and the reactionary protests against Martin Scorcese’s The last temptation of Christ (1988). By focusing upon the extreme-right in these last two chapters, Frey offers an original and most timely analysis of the Front National’s relationship with cinema. As in the previous chapters, this analysis insightfully illustrates the pivotal role that films can play in society

    The role of film production policy in stimulating a Flemish identity (1964–2002)

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    The role of the official film production policy in stimulating a Flemish identity forms the central research question of this study. This research project examines the period that starts in 1964, when a selective and culturally inspired support mechanism for feature films was introduced in Flanders. Subsequently, the support system ran until 2002, when it was structurally renewed. This study makes use of original archival research, policy documents analysis, expert interviews, qualitative press documents analysis, and a quantitative content and qualitative textual analysis of films. The research shows that throughout the course of the second half of the 20th century, there was an evolution in Flemish film policy towards more pluralistic and less essentialist and explicit national discourses, in which national elements, nevertheless, retained an important place

    From movies to games: how film policy is changing

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    While the expansion of film industry activities film to other media has a long history, media convergence has intensified this trend in recent years. Flanders, the northern, Dutch-speaking region of Belgium, offers an interesting European case-study of how film policy is responding

    Film policy and the emergence of the cross-cultural: exploring crossover cinema in Flanders (Belgium)

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    With several films taking on a cross-cultural character, a certain ‘crossover trend’ may be observed within the recent upswing of Flemish cinema (a subdivision of Belgian cinema). This trend is characterized by two major strands: first, migrant and diasporic filmmakers finally seem to be emerging, and second, several filmmakers tend to cross the globe to make their films, hereby minimizing links with Flemish indigenous culture. While paying special attention to the crucial role of film policy in this context, this contribution further investigates the crossover trend by focusing on Turquaze (2010, Kadir Balci) and Altiplano (2009, Peter Brosens & Jessica Woodworth)

    Subsidie, camera, actie!

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    Sinds de jaren zestig krijgt ongeveer 80% van de Vlaamse films overheidssteun. Het filmbeleid speelt daardoor een belangrijke rol in hoe het Vlaamse filmlandschap eruitziet. In het verleden speelden politieke en Vlaams-ideologische factoren vaak een rol bij de subsidieverdeling

    Le Bien contre le Mal contre Claus: le film Le lion des Flandres (1984) et le nationalisme flamand

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    Cet article analyse le film Le lion des Flandres (Hugo Claus, 1984), en se basant sur une analyse de texte et sur l’exploitation d’archives. Il se concentre sur les relations complexes que ce film entretient avec la question nationale belge et flamande. Cette coproduction flamande et néerlandaise (également adaptée en série télévisée en 1985) est une adaptation du roman historique romantique du même nom d'Hendrik Conscience, publié en 1838, une œuvre marquante dans l'histoire culturelle et symbolique du Mouvement flamand. Malgré diverses difficultés liées au caractère nationalise flamand de l’oeuvre de Conscience, les producteurs (dont le ministère flamand de la Culture et la télévision publique de la Communauté flamande) voulaient que le film soit le plus fidèle possible au roman de Conscience. Il en a résulté une production ouvertement romantique et nationaliste flamande et ce, en dépit de quelques contrepoints introduits par le directeur de production Hugo Claus ; un personnage controversé et critiqué mais néanmoins reconnu comme étant extrêmement rigoureux. Bien que Le lion ait été la production la plus coûteuse de l'histoire du cinéma néerlandais, le film s'est avéré être un échec critique et commercial sans précédent
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