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Film Studies: National Cinemas

This guide highlights selected resources for various national cinemas.

Introduction to French cinema

France can boast one of the world’s oldest-established film industries, and, with a current annual output of close to 300 feature films, the largest output of feature films in Europe. On 28 December 1895 the French brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière presented a programme of projected films to a paying audience in Paris, and then embarked on an international tour with their Cinématographe. In the following year, Georges Méliès presented his first ‘trick-film’, Une partie de cartes; and soon after this, Léon Gaumont and Charles Pathé laid the foundations of their respective film production enterprises, both of which are still in existence. In 1900 Alice Guy was appointed director of Gaumont and, having already made La fée aux choux/The Cabbage Fairy (1896), can be counted as the first of France’s many female film directors. The industry flourished until the outbreak of World War I—successes of the prewar period include the Film d’Art, a studio and an internationally successful movement devoted to ‘quality’ film; as well as Louis Feuillade’s popular adventure serial Fantômas (1913–14)—but it subsequently struggled under pressure of competition from foreign imports. ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). France, film in. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 Dec. 2021

Beur cinema

A body of films made since the 1980s in France by directors of North African descent, bringing the immigrant experience to the screen and addressing issues of identity and integration facing the second generation. ‘Beur’ is Parisian backslang for Arabe, and the term was originally coined by and for those to whom it refers. It was taken up in the French media in the 1980s and remains in common usage, though it is now regarded by its originators as pejorative. Commentators argue that ‘beur’ nonetheless remains useful shorthand for an identifiable body of films the study of which sheds light on issues of cinema and cultural identity, and complicates and advances understandings of diasporic cinema and intercultural cinema (see postcolonialism). Beur cinema first came to international attention with Mehdi Charef’s award-winning debut feature Le thé au harem d’Archimède/Tea in the Harem (1985) and Rachid Bouchareb’s Bâton rouge (1985), and within a decade had established a set of broadly shared themes and stylistic characteristics: settings featuring banlieues (districts on the outskirts of Paris and some other French cities that are densely populated by immigrants); distinctive, and increasingly fluid and permeable, fictional spaces (as in Hexagone (Malik Chibane, 1994)); migration memories of the previous generation (as in Inch’Allah dimanche/Inch’Allah Sunday (Yamina Benguigui, 2002)); and the tensions and contradictions of a multilayered identity within French society (as in La graine et le mulet/Couscous (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2007).   ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Beur cinema. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 Nov. 2022

In the library's collections/Searching the online catalog

You can use the subject heading below to find resources in the online catalog. The call number range is also included.

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Finding journal articles

Articles and other writings about French film can be found in many publications. Our collection includes 1 journal which looks exclusively at French film. You can use Film & Television Literature Index to find articles or use the search box at the top of the page. Below is the title we have in our Library's collection.

Selected movie titles

Find more French film titles in the library's online catalog.