Reading the geographies of post-war British film culture through the reception of French film

Article English OPEN
Selfe, M. (2013)

This paper examines the ways in which British specialist film culture anticipated and received the resumed supply of French films at the end of the Second World War. It finds that in serious film journalism and within the rapidly expanding film society movement, new French cinema was the focus of at least as much British attention as Italian neo-realism – the European cinema more famously associated with the era. The paper posits that a number of factors, including anti-Americanism, combined to position the delayed wartime and immediate post-war French releases as a site of impossible expectations and subsequent interpretative difficulty for British cinephiles. In particular, through a case study of the local mediation of French cinema in the English city of Nottingham, this paper considers the role of published criticism for setting the local viewing frame within the provincial film society movement. By tracing the tensions surrounding the circulation of film prints, information, and opinion relating to these prestigious cultural imports, it becomes possible to gain greater insight into both the range of nationally specific meanings attributed to the imported films and the geographic and cultural inequalities at work within the film culture of the country of reception.
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