Monday 17 November 2008

New French Cinema

The Guardian has an article today about the new wave of successful French cinema that depicts modern, multicultural France.

In France, 2008 has been a landmark year. Not only did The Class win the Palme d'Or but Marion Cotillard won a Best Actress Oscar - the first French language performance ever to do so, propelling her film, La Vie en Rose, to impressive international box-office figures (£1m in the UK). France also produced its most successful film ever in Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (Welcome to the Sticks), a culture-clash comedy based in small-town northern France, which brought 20 million French people into cinemas, grossing more than $200m and, so far, racking up more than two million DVD sales. No film, French or American, has been more popular.

In the UK, French film dominates the foreign language releases. The number of French films in 2008 stands at 42, with receipts expected to be above £15m. According to Unifrance, which promotes French film abroad, the number of tickets sold in the UK for French films in the past three years has increased fivefold.

What we are seeing, in other words, is a new wave of commercialism in French cinema. Rather than wowing the world - as the New Wave did with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard's À bout de souffle or Truffaut's Les quatre cents coups - with a new style or a new film grammar, France has positioned itself as a powerhouse of production, cultivating a domestic scene that also feeds international reputation and demand.

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