Date: Mon, 05 Jun 1995 12:01:00 -0500 (CDT) Subject: Re: Appeal of U.S. Films in Europe
From: email@example.com" "Fore Steven James"
Philip Farha's comments are very useful, but some of his examples of "European" film production beg a number of questions having to do mostly with definitions of "national" film practice and the role played by media globalization (which in turn connects with issues of ongoing technological and economic transformation). Is The Professional a "French" film in the way, say, Rules of the Game is? Is "Four Weddings and a Funeral" as "British" as The Lavender Hill Mob or High Hopes? The new round of quotas being imposed on Hollywood imports is, of course, a reworked version of a very old tune, and it seems to me that it's more doomed now than ever, given the changes taking place in the dynamics of global movie production and distribution. That is, quotas are a kind of old-technology, pre-new world order response to a situation that's very different from, for instance, that of Europe in the years after World War II. So, I'm afraid, are government subsidies, which have a long history everywhere in the world of being 1) inadequate to the task of making a significant dent in the marketplance, and 2) utterly dependent on shifting political tides (i.e., the system of subsidies instituted by one party or regime is scrapped by the regime that follows, or even by the same one). U.S.-based distributors begin this game from a position of almost monolithic advantage given their longstanding economy of scale strategy. There *is* room for local production everywhere, mainly because given a choice audiences tend to prefer to see aspects of themselves up there on the screen. In practice, however, it continues to be difficult at best to overcome the 70-year head start of the transnationals. One last point (looking for clarification here, I think): There is implicit in Mr. Farha's discussion a moving away from essentialist definitions of particular "national" cinemas, but he seems to be replacing those notions (in this brief, just initiated discussion) with a no less essentialist definition of "European" cinema. These are difficult, interesting, and crucial issues for filmmakers and film fans all over the world.
Recommended reading (aside from the ubiquitous Benedict Anderson):
Stephen Crofts, "Reconceptualizing National Cinema/s." Quarterly Review of Film and Video 14.3 (1993): 49-67.
John Hill, Martin McLoone, and Paul Hainsworth. Border Crossing: Film in Ireland, Britain and Europe. Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies and British Film Institute, 1994.
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