The Invention of the Art Film: Authorship and French Cultural Policy
CitationPomp, Joseph. 2020. The Invention of the Art Film: Authorship and French Cultural Policy. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis study examines how the notion of filmmaking as a writerly practice crystallized in Paris of the 1910s and early 1920s and came to dictate the contours of French film culture, through the national center for cinema’s myriad production subsidies. Drawing on extensive archival research, it shows that France reinvigorated its film industry by promoting a perennially young national cinema built around new writing talent. By scrutinizing the preponderance of filmmakers whose literary credentials have given them access to the above funds which then launched their respective careers in France, the study demonstrates how France has actively constructed and exported a transnational culture of cinema entrenched in Western conceptions of authorship. Chapter 1 shows that the very notion of an “art film” emerged in the interdisciplinary creative environment of Paris in the 1910s and 1920s. A close reading of Marcel L’Herbier’s 1924 film L’Inhumaine highlights how the tensions between different art forms led to a new aesthetics of film. Chapter 2 focuses on the influence that the Ministry of Culture, under the directorship of André Malraux, had on the organization of the Centre national de la cinématographie (CNC) and its support of young filmmakers both from France and abroad. Chapter 3 examines the history of the Fonds Sud, a film fund co-administered by the CNC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1984 to 2012, which sponsored hundreds of art films from all over the world. Through a series of interlocking case studies, this chapter demonstrates that the Fonds Sud favored projects with a literary orientation even if they were initially deemed unworthy of sponsorship. Finally, Chapter 4 surveys contemporary Francophone African film and media practices that effectively represent a re-invention of the art film, with innovative, hybrid approaches to world-building that erase the boundary between fiction and documentary. If France played host to the invention of film art, then this study illustrates how it has also fomented the constant re-invention that cinema has had to undergo as a medium and a cultural commodity in order to persist.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365812
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