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Laurent Cantet is of one France’s leading contemporary directors. He probes the evolution and fault-lines of contemporary society from the home to the workplace and from the Republican school to globalized consumption more acutely than perhaps any other French film-maker. His films always challenge his characters’ assumptions about their world. But they also make their spectators rethink their position in relation to what they see. This is what makes Cantet such an important film-maker, the book argues. It explores Cantet’s unique working ‘method,’ his use of amateur actors and attempt to develop an egalitarian authorship that allows other voices to be heard rather than subsumed. It discusses his way of constructing films at the uneasy interface of the individual, the group and the broader social context and his recourse to melodramatic strategies and moments of shame to force social tensions into view. It shows how the roots of the well-known later films can be found in his early works. It explores the major fictions from Ressources humaines to the recent Foxfire, Confessions of a Girl Gang. It combines careful close analysis with attention to broader cinematic, social and political contexts while drawing on a range of important theorists from Pierre Bourdieu to Jacques Rancière, Michael Bakhtin and Mary Ann Doane. It concludes by examining how, resolutely contemporary of the current moment, Cantet helps us rethink the possibilities and limits of political cinema in a context in which old resistances have fallen silent and new forms of protest are only emergent.


In this collection of new essays, issues emerge that open up numerous innovative approaches to Costa-Gavras’s career, among them: contemporary theories of adaptation, identity politics, reception, and affect, as well as his assessment of twentieth- and twenty-first-century political disorder. Costa-Gavras recontextualizes political history as individual human dramas and thereby involves his audience in past and contemporary traumas, from the horrors of the Second World War through mid-century international totalitarianism to the current problems of immigration and the global financial crisis. In order to capture the feeling of a political era, Costa-Gavras employs cinematic techniques from La Nouvelle Vague for his early films, documentary-like re-enactments for crucial moments of political tension of his renowned thrillers, and state-of-the-art aesthetics and technology for his latest ventures. The first half of this collection focuses upon the first twenty years of Costa-Gavras’s career, especially his development of the political thriller, the second half of this collection explores the past thirty years of his very productive filmic, thematic, and genre experiments. Costa-Gavras remains one of film’s enduring storytellers, theorists, and political commentators.

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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.

Justice unravelled, a tale of two Frances (1941 and 1943)
Susan Hayward

, handing out anti-German leaflets, etc.), but who will now be re-tried for these same offences which, under the new law, render them liable to the death sentence. Thus, the moral fibre of the Resistance passes under scrutiny in the first film, the cowardice and mendacity of the French judiciary in the second. Two core Costa-Gavras's themes, history and the concept of justice, are confronted in both these films. Indeed, Un homme de trop marks the beginning, Section spéciale the end of the filmmaker's first cycle of political cinema – ‘made in France’. As such

in The films of Costa-Gavras
Alison Smith

fundamental ambiguity of this type of political cinema seems to me to be the following: in the end it relies in an artistic and dramatic judgement while logically a truly political cinema should rely above all on political judgement’ even while he considers that ‘if you believe that political cinema has a function, one can only note with satisfaction that a film like Etat de siège exists’ (Martin 1973 : 59). 25 There is also a growing tendency to extend criticisms retroactively. As the decade advanced, support for the genre declined

in French cinema in the 1970s
Black Audio Film Collective and Latin America
Paul Elliott

Rocha’s ‘An Esthetic of Hunger’ (1965); Julio García Espinosa’s ‘For an Imperfect Cinema’ (1970); Fernando Birri’s ‘Cinema and Underdevelopment’ (1967) and Tomás Guitérez Alea’s ‘The Viewer’s Dialectic’ (1988). Whereas ‘Towards a Third Cinema’ attempted to draw a blueprint for a tricontinental political cinema, these other, less stringent manifestos called for an activation of national identity through film and the development of an aesthetic that would more closely reflect the subaltern experiences of first nation and indigenous peoples. Where Solanas and Getino

in British art cinema
Ian Scott

heart of American political cinema during the era. ‘Political films above all want to show – but there must be some meaning in what they show’, he explained. ‘You can take all sorts of artistic licence, but there must be facts – and witnesses. That is to say testimony from one who is a witness to what is going on’. Testimony does in fact become the arc upon which Betrayed 's relationships, trust, and moral exposure must operate. But he also saw in retrospect that keeping such feelings and ideas alive, no more so than in America during the post-Cold War Clinton years

in The films of Costa-Gavras
Homer B. Pettey

such hidden vices as the plagiarism of a foreign aesthetic, the illusion that forms can be innocent, the acceptance of an individual mythology based on a classless humanism, and an exaggerated reliance on questionable stylistic technique’. 33 Left-leaning critics in America and in Europe questioned ‘the effectiveness of using such “bourgeois” Hollywood genre conventions for a consciously political cinema’. 34 Obviously not having read Vassilikos's novel or having much knowledge of the Lambrakis assassination, Lawrence Loewinger derided Z as ‘an old

in The films of Costa-Gavras
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Continuing negotiations
Julia Dobson

networks for didactically oppositional political cinema. Whilst closely aligned with the identification of ‘fragmentary stories of small groups and marginalised individuals evicted from broader solidarities, stripped of a public voice’ (ibid.: 3), these films do not foreground the central characteristics of what might be broadly termed ‘oppositional cinema’. These studies of déliaison sociale

in Negotiating the auteur
Against the conspiracy of boredom
Peter Buse
Núria Triana Toribio
, and
Andy Willis

lead to alternative comic books, while most of the sources for the film, as has already been noted, are cinematic (genre films) rather than literary. Acción mutante is an all-out assault on what De la Iglesia has called the ‘conspiracy of boredom’ (Ordóñez 1997, 73) in Spanish cinema, by which he means the hegemonic literary-political cinema of the 1980s. This might be an exaggeration on De la Iglesia’s part were it not for the fact that the sort of cinema he excoriates was ultimately endorsed and sponsored by the Spanish state from the mid-1980s. When the PSOE were

in The cinema of Álex de la Iglesia