chapter  16
French Cinema: Counter-Model, Cultural Exception, Resistances: Martin O’Shaughnessy
Pages 19

Any cartography of resistances to Hollywood domination and to the infl uence of neoliberalism in the cinematic sphere would inevitably place France somewhere near its center. Countering the prevalent hostility to state ‘interference’ in market mechanisms, France has maintained a generous system of state support for fi lmmaking that has, in turn, sustained a vigorous national production system. France has also played a key role within Europe both by defending individual state’s rights to support their national cinemas within the European Union (EU) and by promoting pan-European support for fi lm. At a more global level, France has been a leading proponent of cultural exceptionalism and diversity in opposition to free market understandings of cultural activity. France has also been one of the heartlands of political counter-globalization, despite the progressive and seemingly inexorable internationalization of its own economy in recent decades.1 Responding to this broader context, recent French cinema, both fi ction and documentary, has seen a return of political involvement as manifested in a wave of fi lms dealing with the oppressiveness of the contemporary order.2 This coexistence of fi lm industrial, policy, political, and textual resistances might suggest an admirable consistency. Yet things are, of course, more complicated. Not all resistances are equivalent and the French system is riven by tensions and contradictions, as underscored in a recent report by the Club des 13, a group of fi lm professionals, which describes an industry torn between commercial and cultural logics and small and large players.3 Any celebration of French cinematic resistances needs to be postponed until after a careful examination of policies, industrial structures, and texts.4