ELCS6045 - Selling European Cinema to British Audiences in the 21st Century
Value: 0.5 course units
Tutor: Cécile Renaud
Teaching structure: Each week will consist of two hours of lecture and seminar accompanied by a compulsory film screening and a compulsory reading.
Assessment: 2 assessed essays of 2,000 words each.
As European cinema crosses the channel to Britain, a shift occurs in its identity. From being defined mainly in terms of genre, director or stars in their home country, in Britain European films become defined primarily by their subtitles and labelled as ‘arthouse’ or ‘specialised films’. Regardless of their content or original target audience, they remain part of a minority-interest cinema. Despite representing more than a third of releases, foreign-language films have throughout the 2000s averaged a 3% share of the British box-office. In such a difficult market, their nationality becomes an important part of the films’ identity, as stereotypes and exoticism are used to shape audiences’ expectations.
Changes in British film policy with the creation of the UK Film Council in 2000 and the release of a wave of foreign-language genre films contributed to claims that British audiences no longer feared subtitled films and that the new millennium would mark a radical change in British perception of European films, until then heavily dominated by images of the French New Wave and of European Art cinema.
This module therefore aims to question the way in which European cinema is sold to British audiences in the 2000s. It aims not only to examine the films themselves but to provide a better understanding of how Britain consumes its neighbours’ cinematic output by observing the contexts in which it is presented to audiences: critical discourses, marketing materials (including posters and trailers), as well as elements of programming both for the theatrical and home markets.
Notions of identity and national representation are often manipulated and blurred in order to present audiences with a more easily identifiable product. Starting with an overview of British film consumption, distribution and exhibition policies since the turn of the millennium, the module will examine how the notion of European cinema as a whole is presented to British audiences, notably through identifying and emphasising trends. It will then move on to individual national cinemas, and observe the continuation of ‘arthouse’ cinema discourses as well as the resurgence of genre films.
Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:
- Week 1: Introduction: British audiences, industry practices and film policies
- Week 2: European New Extremism 'Antichrist' (2009)
- Week 3: The French New Wave 40 years on: 'Va Savoir' (2001)
- Week 4: Europuddings: 'Pot Luck' (2002)
- Week 5: A French Thriller? 'Hidden' (2005)
- Week 6: Reading week
- Week 7: A German comedy: 'Good Bye Lenin!' (2003)
- Week 8: Quintessentially Spanish? Almodóvar’s 'Volver' (2006)
- Week 9: Scandinavian horror: 'Let the Right One In' (2008)
- Week 10: Italian Crime cinema: 'Gomorrah' (2008)
- Week 1: Hill, J. (2004). ‘UK Film Policy, Cultural Capital and Social Exclusion.’Cultural Trends' 13(2): 29-39.
- Week 2: Quandt, J. (2004). ‘Flesh & Blood: Sex and Violence in Recent French Cinema.’ 'Artforum International' 42(6): 126-132.
- Week 3: Morrey, D. (2010). ‘Secrets and Lies, or How (not) to write about Jacques Rivette.’ 'Australian Journal of French Studies' 47(2): 121-132.
- Week 4: Jäckel, A. (1996) ‘European Co-production Strategies: the case of France and Britain’, in Albert Moran, 'Film Policy: international, national, and regional perspectives', Routledge.
- Week 5: Cousins, M. (2007). ‘After the End: Word of Mouth and Caché.’ 'Screen' 48 (2): 223-226.
- Week 7: Coury, D. N. (1997). ‘From aesthetics to commercialism: narration and the new German comedy.’ 'Seminar: a Journal of Germanic Studies' 33(4): 356-373.
- Week 8: Davies, A. (2004). ‘The Spanish femme fatale and the cinematic negotiation of Spanishness.’ 'Studies in Hispanic Cinema' 1(1): 5-16.
- Week 9: Marklund, A. (2010), ‘Old fangs into new viewers: the American poster to Let the Right One In’, 'Journal of Scandinavian Cinema' 1(1): 51–54.
- Wright, R. (2010). ‘Vampire in the Stockholm suburbs: Let the Right One In and genre hybridity'. 'Journal of Scandinavian Cinema' 1(1): 55-70.
- Week 10: Ratner, M. (2009). ‘The Gomorrah Doctrine.’ 'Film Quarterly' 62 (4): 77-79
- Cavaliere, F. (2010). ‘Gomorrah: Crime goes global, language stays local.’ 'European Journal of English Studies' 14(2): 173-188.