Tue, 14 Nov|
From Paris with Love: Europe’s Passion for French Cinema
Speaker: Huw D. Jones, Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Southampton
Time & Location
14 Nov 2023, 16:00 – 18:00
Southampton, Highfield Rd, Southampton SO17 1BF, UK
About the Event
At the start of the 20th century, French films dominated the international box office. The late-1950s saw cinephiles in London, Berlin and Rome flock to the latest Nouvelle Vague titles, while the 1990s witnessed French filmmakers break into the global mainstream with English-language action films. But what is the situation in the 21st century? Which French films travel well within contemporary Europe, what are their key characteristics, and why do they attract particular audiences? Drawing on audience surveys, focus groups and a database of over 2600 French titles, this presentation will answer these questions. Between 2005 and 2015, France produced 52 films that attracted 1 million cinemagoers in Europe outside their home market. These successful French film exports can be divided into five main categories: action thrillers, family films, arthouse films, comedy-dramas, and biopics. Each have different characteristics in terms of their production, distribution, themes, and portrayal of France, and each attracted different audiences for different reasons. Biopics like Coco avant Chanel / Coco Before Chanel (Fontaine, 2009), for example, appealed to older women with degrees interested in the lives and loves of female historical icons, often played by well-known stars, while comedy-dramas like Intouchables / Untouchable (Nakache & Toledano, 2011) attracted younger people with reassuring stories that triggered powerful emotions. I end by considering whether these trends still apply to more French releases, such as Les Misérables (Ly, 2019), and what they add to wider scholarship on European cinema and transnational media flows.
Huw D. Jones is a Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Southampton. He previously worked on ‘Mediating Cultural Encounters through European Screens’ (MeCETES), a collaborative research project on the transnational production, distribution and reception of European film and television drama, funded by Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA). He has published in European Cinema in the Twenty-First Century, The Routledge Companion to World Cinema, Transnational Cinemas, Participations: International Journal of Audience Research, Studies in European Cinema, Journal of British Cinema and Television, and Cultural Trends. His book Transnational European Cinema: Representation, Audiences, Identity will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in early 2024.