The French Communist Party and French cinema 1944-1999
This dissertation examines the relationship between the French Communist Party (PCF) and French cinema between 1944 and 1999. The approach adopted is an historical and political one, exploring the context behind the changing relations between the Party and the film industry. Both institutions have played a crucial part in the weaving of the political and cultural fabric of the country throughout the period. For both the PCF and French cinema, the Liberation marked a new beginning and a new relationship with the French state. Looking closely at the French Communist outlets over four key periods - the Liberation and the Cold War, the New Republic, May '68 and the 1990s -, the evolution of the positions of the PCF regarding both film as an industry and film as an art-form is examined with particular emphasis on the links and the differences between the film policy advocated by the PCF and its critical discourse on French cinema. Since 1944 and PCF has kept a close watch on France's film industry, participating, from the Blum-Byrne agreements to the demonstrations against the MAI, in every battle for its defence. The unique blend of State involvement in film matters and professional resilience in the face of foreign competition which defines French cinema today owes much to this Communist involvement. Yet in spite of this continuous support the PCF has not left a strong mark on French cinema either in aesthetic or ideological terms, and the silver screen has hardly ever broadcast the PCF viewpoint. The reluctance shown by some in the Party to acknowledge the concept of auteur as well as the Party's own history serve to explain this absence. Until the 1980s, the PCF's discourse was dominated by the defence of France's national culture, although some Communist critics and auteurs disputed this vision tainted with economism.