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Author: Barry Jordan

Alejandro Amenábar has made only five main features over a 15-year period from 1995 to 2009. In 1995 he abandoned his Film Studies degree at Madrid's Complutense University in order to shoot Tesis (Thesis), his first feature. This book contains a brief biographical profile of Amenábar, but the main focus is a detailed analysis of his shorts, and the ways in which a set of templates and devices (stylistic, narrative and thematic) begin to emerge from them, as well as a series of working practices. It then provides detailed accounts of Amenábar's five feature films to date: Tesis, Abre los ojos, The Others, Mar adentro, and Ágora. Though the approaches adopted and the menu of topics vary in each chapter, the book seeks to combine important aspects of contextual information (historical, social, industrial) with detailed production and reception notes. It pays close attention to aspects of film form and style (e.g. the interplay in Tesis between classical Hollywood narration and 'art film narration'). The book explores the ways in which Amenábar appears to conduct experiments in generic hybridity to create a personal, auteur cinema which satisfies his cinephilia as well as his desire for ambiguity and profundity. At the same time, it demonstrates his commitment to the tastes and pleasures of film audiences. The study presented is guided in large part by questions already raised in scholarly writings on Amenábar, as well as other issues and evidence which have subsequently emerged.

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Kate Ince

Auteur cinema in the twentieth century It is a commonplace to associate auteur cinema with France, but for a good reason: as everyone knows, it was a Frenchman, François Truffaut, who launched the polemic that grew into the body of criticism we now know as ‘auteur theory’. However, some directors did enjoy an identity very like what we now understand as a cinematic author

in Five directors
Engaging with ethnicity
Joseph McGonagle

the enduring predilection in France for auteur cinema, the vast majority of whose directors are white. It also undoubtedly stems from the investment of time and money required to become established as a director or actor, which is far more likely to favour the white ethnic majority. Such a system also especially favours white men. As Dyer (1990: 2) has argued: ‘Film, more perhaps than any other art, requires money, time and confidence (to believe that it is even appropriate for one to “say” something); existing gender and ethnic relations mean that white men are

in Representing ethnicity in contemporary French visual culture
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Continuing negotiations
Julia Dobson

identity and national brand (ibid.: 228). 18 The conventional distinction between auteur and genre-led production is embedded in the projected opposition between popular cinema (popular in the sense of its targeting of a wider public) and auteur cinema. Attempts to delineate these boundaries, such as Prédal’s confusing claim that ‘Le cinéma d’auteur n’est pas populaire car il s’adresse aux individus

in Negotiating the auteur
Guy Austin

auteur tradition in French cinema, ‘a romantic tradition of humanist individualism which constitutes the bedrock of French critical approaches to film’ (Vincendeau 1987 : 7). Avant-garde auteurs : Marguerite Duras and Agnès Varda Two of the principal auteurs in French film since the 1960s, women whose idiosyncratic styles epitomise avant-garde auteur cinema, are Marguerite

in Contemporary French cinema
Barry Jordan

and how Amenábar and Gil resolve these difficulties). However, my main focus is to explore the ways in which Amenábar appears to conduct experiments in generic hybridity in order to create a personal, auteur cinema which satisfies his cinephilia as well as his desire for ambiguity and profundity while at the same time demonstrating his commitment to the tastes and pleasures of film audiences. In my selections and mode of

in Alejandro Amenábar
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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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Author: Michael Leonard

This book provides a comprehensive study of the cinema of Philippe Garrel, placing his work within the political context of France in the second half of the twentieth century (including the tumultuous events of May 68) and the broader contexts of auteur cinema and the avant-garde. Challenging the assumption that Garrel’s oeuvre exists in direct continuity with that of Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut et al., this study locates a more radical shift with Garrel’s predecessors by observing the eclecticism of the influences absorbed and exploited by the director. In doing so, it explores contexts beyond French cinema in order to interpret the director’s work, including avant-garde movements such as the Situationists, Surrealism, Arte Povera and the American Underground. Acknowledging Garrel’s role as an unofficial historian of the so-called ‘post-New Wave’, the study equally considers his relationship with other members of this loose film school, including Jean Eustache, Chantal Akerman and Jacques Doillon. The book is structured according to both a chronological and thematic reading of Garrel’s oeuvre. This method introduces different conceptual issues in each chapter while respecting the coherence of the various periodisations of the director’s career.

This book aims to demystify the place and power of the screenwriter within French film production, in creative and artistic terms, but also in the context of film criticism and film discourse more generally, whether that be in mainstream, popular or auteur cinema. Critical discourses on French cinema have tended to consider words to be of secondary importance to the image, regarding screenwriters as either over-dominant or completely eclipsed. The reality is, of course, that screenwriting has remained an integral part of the industry since the coming of sound. This book takes a number of key figures in the history of French screenwriting from the transition to sound to the present day, in order to explore the shifting function and position of screenwriters and major trends in screenwriting practice. It considers the industrial categorisation of screenwriting as adaptation, script development and dialogue writing, and explores creative practices around these three specialist areas – which are rarely as clearly defined as film credits might have us believe. It addresses and questions the myths that have emerged around certain writers in critical discourses, as well as the narrative mythologies that these writers have helped to shape in their films: from fatalism and the working-class (anti)hero to the small-minded petit bourgeois; from the neurotic protagonist to the naive fool of comedy. In doing so, it also reflects on the methodological challenges of screenwriting research, and the opportunities opened up by shedding light on these frequently neglected figures.

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Will Higbee

as a popular auteur . Notes 1 ‘For twenty years, the USA has had a good commercial cinema which is [also] an auteur cinema … an auteur is not only a tortured artist. It is someone who has ideas and creates a world. The Matrix is THE auteur film, par excellence

in Mathieu Kassovitz