European Cinema: Transnational, Transcultural, Transmedial
Issue Editors’ Note
Abigail Keating, Jill Murphy and Aidan Power
Alphaville Issue 1, European Cinema: Transnational, Transcultural, Transmedial stems thematically from an international graduate film studies conference that we co-organised in May 2010 at University College Cork. The conference addressed the permeability of European spaces—geopolitical, sociocultural, productive and aesthetic—within a post-1989 cinematic context. This Issue, however, moves the focus beyond such a specific—albeit multilayered—epoch, encompassing research on both past and contemporary filmmaking, in a bid to showcase the “movement” that was and still is at the heart of European cinema with regard to its interrelationships of geography, culture and form. Inspired by the many seminal works on European cinema that have gone before it, we seek to contribute to the debate a collection that is at once original, in its theoretical and thematic scope, and fresh, in its demonstration of inspiring new work by early career scholars (an attribute that affords us the knowledge that this thriving area in our field will continue to be so).
Initiating the Issue is Natália Pinazza’s analysis of Sandra Kogut’s international co-production, The Hungarian Passport (2001). Drawing primarily on Hamid Naficy’s concept of “accented cinema”, Pinazza considers Kogut’s documentary under the rubrics of diasporic and postcolonial filmmaking, and exposes and interrogates questions of the contemporary European geopolitical boundary in relation to both its “others” and its own migratory past. Adopting a style that is elegantly reminiscent of the documentary on which she focuses—in both its fluidity and multidimensionality—Pinazza argues that Kogut’s employment of the passport as signifier and her generational and familial engagement with Brazil (and its historical connections to Europe) highlight the problematics of European citizenship and identity, and, in turn, disrupt the notion of the “fortress” in favour of the more legitimate existence of a space as transnational as the self-reflexive journey that Kogut undertakes within it. Following this, and utilising the spatial sphere of contemporary Paris as a microcosm, Vivien Silvey scrutinises Michael Haneke’s Code Unknown (2000) and the multi-director Paris je t’aime (2006) for off-centre depictions of borders in modern day Europe. Silvey’s article engages with two very different films that nonetheless rely upon ruptured narrative structures that play on the discordant and discontinuous nature of European society itself. Extending her analysis to encompass the respective production histories of the films, Silvey provides a deep and wide-ranging investigation of key thematic concepts such as home, belonging and the destabilising nature of borders and free movement.
Turning the attention to one key filmmaker, and by examining the background to the production and filming of some of his lesser known cinematic works, produced in both Britain and abroad, Isabelle Gourdin-Sangouard presents an account of Lindsay Anderson’s problematic relationship with national identity and the notion of Britishness in terms of his involvement in the British film industry and in his role as a filmmaker internationally. Continuing the Issue’s geographical diversity, Özgür Çiçek examines the cultural and political context of Kurdish cinema in Turkey. In particular, she contends that the lack of a Kurdish documentary archive, due to sociopolitical factors, has led to Kurdish cinema functioning as a visual archive for Kurdish identity and culture. Çiçek considers Hayden White’s formulations on narrative and history in relation to Kurdish cinema and then applies a Deleuzian approach to two recent examples, On the Way to School (2009)by Özgür Doğan and Orhan Eskiköy and Min Dit: The Children of Diyarbakir (2009) by Miraz Bezar, identifying in both films the presence of a time-image in the process of becoming.
Nick Impey focuses his attentions on Europe’s tumultuous past, namely its difficulties in dealing with the fallout from the traumas of World War Two and the Holocaust. Centering on Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter (1974) and Cesare Canevari’s The Gestapo’s Last Orgy (1977), Impey’s article surveys sexual politics and cultural memory in Italy and further beyond, providing a snapshot of prevailing attitudes toward sexuality and gender in the 1970s. Also concerned with a historically significant period in the continent’s past, Michael Leonard considers the citational practices employed in The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2004) and Les Amants réguliers (Regular Lovers, Philippe Garrel, 2005), each of which is set against the background of the events of May 1968 in Paris. In his analysis, he differentiates between Garrel’s metonymic approach to filmographic citation and Bertolucci’s metaphorical one, the first of which, he contends, seeks to engage May 1968 in a dialogue with the present, while the second situates the same events firmly in the past. Drawing Issue 1 to a close, and starting from the standpoint of endemic crises within the project of multiculturalism, Elena Caoduro compares and contrasts prevailing European attitudes toward Islamic society in Elmar Fischer’s Fremder Freund (2003) and the Rachid Bouchareb directed London River (2009). Focusing on films by directors with two distinct backgrounds, Caoduro plays upon their differences and similarities to showcase divergent reactions to “the enemy within”. Skillfully interacting with the notion of the penetration of “fortress Europe”, similar to Pinazza’s article, she examines on-screen depictions of Muslim characters, the erosion of their civil liberties and their dealings with fellow Europeans.
We hope that our readers will find Issue 1 as engaging, thought-provoking and varied as we, as issue editors, have found compiling it.
1. For more information, see the conference website: http://www.ucc.ie/en/filmstudies/research/conferences/europeancinematoday/
2. For example, the seminal work of both Laura Rascaroli (Cork) and Tim Bergfelder (Southampton), who, speaking as plenaries at our conference in May 2010, contributed in immense ways to the success and consequent development of the event—for which we here thank them.
Keating, Abigail, Jill Murphy, and Aidan Power. “Issue Editors’ Note”. Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media 1 (Summer 2011). Web. ISSN: 2009-4078.
Abigail Keating, Jill Murphy and Aidan Power are PhD candidates in Film Studies at University College Cork and members of the Editorial Board of Alphaville.