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Title: The rise of art cinema in postwar film culture : the exhibition, distribution, and reception of foreign language films in Britain 1945–1968
Author: O'Brien, Margaret
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 0462
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This institutional and cultural history seeks to restore the foreign language art film to its influential position in postwar British film culture. Its central argument is that the elevation of a group of mainly European directors and films to the newly autonomous field of cinematic art reached its heights in the 1950s and 1960s. Three main factors which drove this process are explored: firstly, changes in society related to education and social mobility that created new audiences; secondly, changing economic and cultural contexts, especially the film festival, whereby European productions were able to challenge Hollywood; and thirdly the construction of new institutional frameworks through publications, distribution companies, cinemas, and film societies. A further argument is that film critics, who were increasingly promoting the ideas of personal authorship inflected by national histories, provided audiences with analytical tools for their readings of art films, thus becoming key agents in the construction of intellectual discourses which separated the art film from Hollywood studio production. The period also saw the combination of sexual explicitness in the ‘serious’ art film with an increasing number of continental X films being sold on their sexual titillation. This study investigates how and why these two trends sometimes met in the same spaces of distribution and exhibition, and how the overlapping identities of ‘sex’ and ‘art’ were negotiated by censors, critics, and audiences. The thesis presents a national picture through new research on local case studies across the UK, mapping the impact of art films outside, as well as within, London and exploring how the particularities of place shaped audiences and programmes. Finally, an analysis of the findings from Cinema Memories, a project conducted for this thesis, provides fresh insights into the reception of foreign language films.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available