Contemporary French Cinema: French Film before and in the Crisis
Martin O’Shaughnessy is Professor of Film Studies at Nottingham Trent University. He is the author of Jean Renoir (2000), The New Face of Political Cinema (2007), La Grande illusion (2009) and Laurent Cantet (2015).
This talk will not seek to produce some sort of impossible overview of the French cinema of the period before and of the Crisis. Instead, it will focus on selected films and ask what they can tell us about our current moment: the key figures and forms of subjectivity that characterize it (entrepreneurs of the self, indebted subjects, the precarious, the migrant, the suicidal worker); the loss of any explicit language of opposition and the direct collision between global forces and vulnerable bodies that ensues; the loss of the collective, political dimension of struggles and the rise of the ethical; more recently, the reappearance of explicit class struggle but often in terms of reductive contrasts (noble workers, bad bankers etc.). Although the larger picture is a bleak one, the talk will also be attentive to films that seek to look beyond present miseries: workers who kill the worker in the self not the self in the worker; gift economies that arise alongside debt; films that seek to keep the memories of struggle alive and do not just condemn it to the past.
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