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Contesting filiations

After substantial success as a screenplay writer, Jacques Audiard has directed some of the most engaging and enduring films of the last decade in France. His films, Regarde les hommes tomber (1994), Un héros très discret (1996) and Sur mes lèvres (2001), received critical recognition, yet he is often absent from canon-forming lists of contemporary French directors. This will undoubtedly change

in Five directors
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Auteurism from Assayas to Ozon
Editor: Kate Ince

There have been vigorous debates about the condition and prospects of auteur cinema in France over the last decade, debates that seem mostly to have gone unreported in anglophone criticism of francophone cinema. But these have been paralleled by a revival of international debate about the status of the auteur: in their extended chapter on auteur cinema added to the second edition of Cook's The Cinema Book, Pam Cook and Mieke Bernink observe that this was definitely underway by 1995. This book summarises the development of auteurism as a field up to the 1990s, drawing particularly on Wright Wexman's historical overview. Georges Méliès was the first auteur. Following the advent of structuralism and structuralist approaches to narrative and communication in the mid 1960s, a type of auteurism was born that preserved a focus on authorship. The book presents an account of the development of Olivier Assayas' career, and explores this idea of what one might call 'catastrophe cinema'. Jacques Audiard's work reflects several dominant preoccupations of contemporary French cinema, such as an engagement with realism (the phenomenon of the 'new new wave') and the interrogation of the construction of (cultural) memory. The book then discusses the films of the Dardenne brothers and their documentaries. Michael Haneke's films can be read as a series of polemical correctives to the morally questionable viewing practices. An introduction to Ozon's films that revolve around the centrality of queer desire to his cinema, and the continual performative transformations of identity worked within it, is presented.

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significant factor in the continuing health of auteur cinema in recent years. 10 Assayas to Ozon: the auteurs The context of the careers and filmographies of three of the directors in this book – Olivier Assayas, Jacques Audiard and François Ozon – is the cinema of France. All Audiard’s feature films have been funded entirely by French production companies, and this is also true of the

in Five directors
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The actor/auteur

César nomination as most promising young actor – Kassovitz was cast in Jacques Audiard’s idiosyncratic noir thriller Regarde les hommes tomber (1994) (Vachaud 1994 : 40). In the film Kassovitz plays Johnny, an emotionally fragile, itinerant social misfit who is taken under the wing of Marx, an ageing, small-time criminal played by Jean-Louis Trintignant. Such was the critical impact of

in Mathieu Kassovitz
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1 Introduction I n a dreary Paris office, a Tamil man, woman and child sit across a desk from a French immigration officer. Newly arrived from war-torn Sri Lanka, the family must plead their case for asylum in France. As the man relates his family’s suffering, of how they came to be in Europe and why they deserve asylum, an interpreter of Sri Lankan origin translates his speech from Tamil into French. So begins a crucial scene in Jacques Audiard’s 2015 Palme d’or-winning film, Dheepan. Unknown to the officer, these three people are not exactly who they claim to

in Decentring France
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Continuing negotiations

?’ Cahiers du cinéma , 518 (November), 22–5 . De Bruyn , Olivier ( 2000 ), ‘“Love Me”: Les fantômes de la liberté’ positif , 469 , 21–2 . Denzin , Norman ( 1991 ), Images of Postmodern Society. Social Theory and Contemporary Cinema , London, Sage. Dobson , Julia ( 2008 ), ‘Jacques Audiard: Contesting Filiations’ in Kate Ince (ed

in Negotiating the auteur

and the Best Actor Award at the 1993 Paris Festival. (He also won the 1995 Cesar for Most Promising Male Actor for his performance in Jacques Audiard’s thriller Regarde les hommes tomber , 1994.) Clearly, he has been marked by his father’s family origins and politics: Peter Kassovitz – who has made leftwing militant films, worked with Chris Marker and was in the maquis in Nicaragua – is of Jewish-Hungarian origin, and came to France in 1956 after

in Reframing difference
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Un prophète and Dheepan

5 Urban margins: Un prophète and Dheepan W e now move from the city to the banlieue for Jacques Audiard’s 2009 Un prophète and 2015 Dheepan. Each of these banlieue-set films is composed of multilingual dialogue and features characters who frequently code-switch as a strategy for dominating one another. Un prophète is set in the Brécourt male prison, ruled and divided by two conflicting cultural gangs: the Arabs and the Corsicans. The young Franco-Maghrebi protagonist, Malik, finds himself simultaneously subjugated by, and torn between, these two groups, as he

in Decentring France
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film in its choreographed shootouts, the film noir in its shadowy, expressionist mise en scène . This stylisation allowed French film-makers to exploit the iconography of both the gangster film – in the work of Jean-Pierre Melville and Jacques Deray – and the film noir – from Jean-Luc Godard’s A bout de souffle ( Breathless , 1959) to the work of Jacques Audiard (see below). The gangster thriller

in Contemporary French cinema
Post-war French polar, from Becker to Corneau

narratives or subtexts, from Duvivier (Pépé and Pierrot) to Melville (Bob and Paulo) and all the way to Jacques Audiard (Marx and Johnny),26 the arc in Le Choix des armes is centred if not on the closing of the gap between the two male leads, at least on the creation of a mutual understanding and even the suggestion of an oblique kinship between them. The pivotal moment occurs when Noël, still bent on discovering Mickey’s whereabouts, reflects about tracking down the volatile hothead through his circle of former acquaintances: ‘A gang never goes away completely. And when

in Screening the Paris suburbs