Academic journal article CineAction

Anything but Hollywood

Academic journal article CineAction

Anything but Hollywood

Article excerpt

The topic for this issue arose initially from a sense of exasperation with what I've perceived as an increasingly homogenized and narrow range of `commercial product' emanating from our neighbour to the south. If this theme had been proposed a few years earlier, my guess is that most of the papers submitted for consideration would have dealt with the American independent film. However, and surprisingly, only one of the submissions was actually concerned with a genuine American independent--Hal Hartley's Henry Fool--and that piece by Sarah Phillips questions the writer/director's venture into accessibility. As with the avant-garde artist's conundrum: how to remain critical while seeking for/achieving success in a society that treats criticism as just another style to be commodified, the independent filmmaker seems to share a similar perplexing and confounding situation. The question is: How to challenge the system when the system seems to be eminently adaptable to collapsing everything to a matter of style over substance. Suddenly, Independent Film has gone mainstream!

On the other hand, I was delighted to discover that there was serious work being done on alternate modes of production, distribution and exhibition--subjects, especially the latter two, that rarely have been dealt with inside the covers of CineAction. From the University of Southern California, a training ground for mainstream commercial filmmaking, Charles Tashiro writes about the possibilities and practicalities of digital video production, explaining and assessing a project that he did with a small group of students, half of whom were not film majors. While digital video solves some of the production problems of would-be filmmakers, it doesn't address the difficulty of distribution and exhibition, i.e. getting the films seen. Two papers in this issue investigate modes of alternate filmmaking which seem to have solved those problems. Jeffrey Ruoff takes as his almost ethnographic interest the little studied (amateur) travelogue film industry, unfamiliar to most filmgoers, but of some considerable cultural and historical importance for the way in which it has functioned as an alternative to the commercial fiction film that is Hollywood's sole product. …

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