In the popular imagination, modern French cinema began around 1959 and hit its peak in the 1960s, with the revolutionary filmic works of Cahiers du cinéma’s critics-turned-directors and their Left Bank contemporaries both dominating their era and casting a long shadow over the decades that followed. Yet, in their immediate wake, in the 1970s and early 1980s, an equally brilliant and vigorous French cinema flourished, albeit in relative obscurity. This was the era of filmmakers like Philippe Garrel, Maurice Pialat, Jean Eustache and even lesser-known figures, directors who were often both ostracised by the system in which they worked and disillusioned with it – whose works remain, in many cases, critically neglected and commercially elusive to this day. Our dossier for this issue – entitled “The Second Generation: French Cinema After the New Wave” – seeks to give this movement of filmmakers their due by bringing together a series of articles about their varying styles and approaches, re-examining this fertile period of French cinema through the lens of some of their most overlooked and important works.
The scope of our feature articles is wide, ranging from the work of a legendary Chinese filmmaker to the cultural significance of high concept Hollywood cinema. Radha O’Meara analyses the use of imagined rituals in the work of Zhang Yimou and the relationship of his cinema with the political establishment. We have an analysis of the role of AI in cinema from Robert Alpert, which focuses on key films such as RoboCop (Paul Verhoeven 1987) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise 1951). Laleen Jayamanne looks at the intersections of film, racial politics and father-son relationships in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, while Hossein Eidizadeh discerns the influence of Kafka in the trope of metamorphosis across a range of David Lynch’s film and television work. Alex Heller-Nicholas gives us her take on the much-awaited 2018 remake of Suspiria.
In line with our editorial philosophy of giving voice to auteurs from around the world, we have an eclectic mix of interviews. Andreea Patru conducts another outstanding interview for us, this time with Rana Eid on her film Panoptic, and Simon Petri-Lukács talks with Thom Andersen about his documentary Red Hollywood. Joanne Leow sat down with Singaporean documentary filmmaker Tan Pin Pin to discuss her politically charged filmography and the history of her country.
In our festivals section, we have reports from film centres around the world. David Morgan-Brown takes us through the slate of films playing at the revelation Film Festival in Perth. Peter Hourigan reports back from the cinephile-paradise that is Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, Further East, Giuliano Vivaldi reports on the Odessa International Film Festival, Dennis Vetter looks at the Night Sight program at Crossing Europe in Austria, and Cerise Howard gives us her take on the Karlovy Vary festival and questions whether the organisers have responded to the climate of the #metoo movement.
We have two important additions to our growing Great Directors series. Nathan Senn dissects the work of the daring Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who with films such as Tropical Malady has created a unique aesthetic that pins civilisation and nature against each other. In our second Great Directors piece, Wheeler Dixon remembers the late Portuguese great Manoel De Oliveira, who worked well past his 100th birthday. Meanwhile, in our annotations coinciding with upcoming screenings for Melbourne Cinémathèque, we focus on films by directors such as Ida Lupino, Edward Yang, Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Dušan Makavejev, as well as three key Australian films that emerged around the time of the Bicentennial.
– the editors