Global Art Cinema: New Theories and Histories

Global Art Cinema: New Theories and Histories

Global Art Cinema: New Theories and Histories

Global Art Cinema: New Theories and Histories

Synopsis

"Art cinema" has for over fifty years defined how audiences and critics imagine film outside Hollywood, but surprisingly little scholarly attention has been paid to the concept since the 1970s. And yet in the last thirty years art cinema has flourished worldwide. The emergence of East Asian and Latin American new waves, the reinvigoration of European film, the success of Iranian directors, and the rise of the film festival have transformed the landscape of world cinema. This book brings into focus art cinema's core internationalism, demonstrating its centrality to understanding film as a global phenomenon.

The book reassesses the field of art cinema in light of recent scholarship on world film cultures. In addition to analysis of key regions and films, the essays cover topics including theories of the film image; industrial, aesthetic, and political histories; and art film's intersections with debates on genre, sexuality, new media forms, and postcolonial cultures. Global Art Cinema brings together a diverse group of scholars in a timely conversation that reaffirms the category of art cinema as relevant, provocative, and, in fact, fundamental to contemporary film studies.

Excerpt

I never apologize for combining the word “art” with the word “cinema.” You would need a nineteenth-century conception of art—a cliché even then—to cast it as effete. After Freud, Trotsky, Benjamin, and Adorno, after futurism, constructivism, dada, surrealism, and the explosion of pop, it seems hard to remember that art—and the art film—was once considered the spiritual playground or retreat of a bourgeois elite. True, there had been “Film d’Art” around 1910, best remembered for the black-tie audience assembled for the premiere of L’Assassinat du due de Guise at the Paris Opéra with music composed by Saint-Saens. And in the 1920s certain patrons of “The Seventh Art” treated cinema as though it were a debutante being introduced into high society. In Film as Art (Film als Kunst, 1932) Rudolf Arnheim consolidated the aesthetic principles achieved toward the end of the silent era, principles based on classical painting (balance, emphasis, discretion, and so forth). But Duchamp, Leger, and Buñuel had already blustered in to spoil the ball.

When cinema next attached itself to art, after the Second World War, it was not to emulate the forms and functions of painting or drama, but to adopt the intensity of their creation and experience. For even when it is seemingly “ready-made,” “trouvé,” “informe,” or “absurd,” art is exigent in the demands it makes on makers and viewers. Art cinema is “ambitious,” the word with which François Truffaut characterized the filmmakers he championed, the filmmaker he wanted to become. If cineastes are artists, it is because they . . .

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