The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

distributing their films. Today, these problems are no easier, even within Africa itself. International monopolistic interference has meant that Africans cannot see films made by fellow Africans as often as they wish. The film markets are swamped by film products distributed by a few powerful foreign-owned distribution companies, from America, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Persistent efforts have been made by African film-makers to break this rigid monopoly. In 1969, the Fédération Panafricaine des Cinéastes ( FEPACI), an Africa-wide organization, was created to challenge directly the existing distribution monopolies. Since then, a number of locally controlled regional and national cinema organizations have been established, which have had a small but important impact on the processes of cinema production and distribution in Africa. In some countries, governments have intervened by nationalizing cinema screening halls and creating bodies to facilitate the distribution of film products by African film-makers.

As far as distribution in foreign markets is concerned, African cinema is still on the fringes, despite the growing and active presence of African films at international festivals and fairs. Most public cinemas in Europe and America have never screened an African film, and the stock of African films in educational and other institutions is embarrassingly poor. There is an urgent need for more equitable distribution practices in the African and international film markets.

Perhaps even more urgent is the need to improve on the quality of films produced in Africa, so as to enhance their competitiveness at home and abroad. There is no doubt that the scarcity of proper technical facilities and the acute lack of professionally trained production personnel has greatly limited the capability of African film-makers to compete.


African film festivals held within and outside Africa have played a significant role in the promotion of the creative initiative and enterprise of African film-makers. The prizes offered for best film have always created healthy competition resulting in the production of more quality films. The festivals are effective forums for dialogue between professionals involved in film production, on one hand, and between film-makers and those who buy or watch their films, on the other. They are ideal platforms for the promotion of continental and regional co-operation, and also of the marketability of African films, by encouraging intra-African trade as well as export opportunities.

The biggest and most prodigious African film festival is the Pan-African Film and Television Festival (FESPACO), which has taken place annually in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, since 1969.

In October 1993 the Southern Africa Film Festival was held in Harare, Zimbabwe. According to its director, Keith Shiri, the huge turn-out of film-makers and audiences from all over Africa signalled a new high-water mark of film activity in anglophone Africa. The success of the festival was a clear indication of a bright future for African cinema as a whole.


Diawara, Manthia ( 1992), African Cinema.

Rouch, Jean ( 1967), Films ethnographiques sur l'Afrique noire.

Shiri, Keith (ed.) ( 1993), Africa at the Pictures.

Iranian Cinema


THE SILENT ERA: 1900-1930

Up until 1930, when the first Iranian fiction feature film was made, Iranian cinema was entirely dominated by the production of non-fiction films. Before the First World War, most documentaries were sponsored and viewed by the Qajar royal family and the upper classes, creating a model of a private, sponsored cinema. The films themselves were 'primitive', consisting of footage of news events, actualities, and spectacles involving royalty, usually filmed in long shot.

The first Iranian non-fiction footage was shot in Ostend, in Belgium, on 18 August 1900, when a 'flower parade' of some fifty floats showered the visiting Shah with bouquets of flowers; the event was filmed by Mirza Ebrahim Khan Akkasbashi, the official court photographer, with a Gaumont camera he had bought by order of the Shah a few weeks earlier in Paris. Back in Iran, Akkasbashi filmed Moharram religious ceremonies and other spectacles such as the lions in the royal zoo. These films, along with French and Russian newsreels, were shown at the houses of dignitaries and the royal palace during weddings and birth and circumcision ceremonies.

The first public cinema in Iran was the non-commercial Soli cinema, set up in 1900 by Roman Catholic missionaries in Tabriz. But it was the entrepreneur Ebrahim Khan


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The Oxford History of World Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Contents xi
  • Special Features xv
  • List of Colour Illustrations xvii
  • General Introduction xix
  • 1 - Silent Cinema 1895-1930 1
  • Origins and Survival 6
  • Early Cinema 13
  • Transitional Cinema 23
  • The Hollywood Studio System 43
  • The World-Wide Spread of Cinema 53
  • The First World War and the Crisis in Europe 62
  • Tricks and Animation 71
  • Comedy 78
  • Documentary 86
  • Cinema and the Avant-Garde 95
  • Serials 105
  • French Silent Cinema 112
  • Italy- Spectacle and Melodrama 123
  • British Cinema from Hepworth to Hitchcock 130
  • Germany- The Weimar Years 136
  • The Scandinavian Style 151
  • Pre-Revolutionary Russia 159
  • The Soviet Union and the Russian émigrés 162
  • Yiddish Cinema in Europe 174
  • Japan- Before the Great Kanto Earthquake 177
  • Music and the Silent Film 183
  • The Heyday of the Silents 192
  • 2 - Sound Cinema 1930-1960 205
  • The Introduction of Sound 211
  • Hollywood- The Triumph of the Studio System 220
  • Censorship and Self-Regulation 235
  • The Sound of Music 248
  • Technology and Innovation 259
  • Animation 267
  • Cinema and Genre 276
  • The Western 286
  • The Musical 294
  • Crime Movies 304
  • The Fantastic 312
  • Documentary 322
  • Socialism, Fascism, and Democracy 333
  • The Popular Art of French Cinema 344
  • Italy from Fascism to Neo-Realism 353
  • Britain at the End of Empire 361
  • Germany- Nazism and after 374
  • East Central Europe before the Second World War 383
  • Soviet Film under Stalin 389
  • Indian Cinema- Origins to Independence 398
  • China before 1949 409
  • The Classical Cinema in Japan 413
  • The Emergence of Australian Film 422
  • Cinema in Latin America 427
  • After the War 436
  • Transformation of the Hollywood System 443
  • Independents and Mavericks 451
  • 3 - The Modern Cinema 1960-1995 461
  • Television and the Film Industry 466
  • The New Hollywood 475
  • New Technologies 483
  • Sex and Sensation 490
  • The Black Presence in American Cinema 497
  • Exploitation and the Mainstream 509
  • Dreams and Nightmares in the Hollywood Blockbuster 516
  • Cinéma-Vérité and the New Documentary 527
  • Avant-Garde Film- The Second Wave 537
  • Animation in the Post-Industrial Era 551
  • Modern Film Music 558
  • Art Cinema 567
  • New Directions in French Cinema 576
  • Italy- Auteurs and after 586
  • Spain after Franco 596
  • British Cinema- The Search for Identity 604
  • The New German Cinema 614
  • East Germany- The Defa Story 627
  • Changing States in East Central Europe 632
  • Russia after the Thaw 640
  • Cinema in the Soviet Republics 651
  • Turkish Cinema 656
  • The Arab World 661
  • The Cinemas of Sub-Saharan Africa 667
  • Iranian Cinema 672
  • India- Filming the Nation 678
  • Indonesian Cinema 690
  • China after the Revolution 693
  • Popular Cinema in Hong Kong 704
  • Taiwanese New Cinema 711
  • The Modernization of Japanese Film 714
  • New Australian Cinema 722
  • New Zealand Cinema 731
  • Canadian Cinema/Cinéma Canadien 731
  • New Cinemas in Latin America 740
  • New Concepts of Cinema 750
  • The Resurgence of Cinema 759
  • Index 785
  • List of Picture Sources 823


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