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Film beyond the mainstream: American art cinema






100% coursework


AMER1050 or GCIN1001 or CLIT1008




Elective Course

While American and international cinema has been dominated by large Hollywood productions, some of America’s most important, most popular, and most critically acclaimed films from the 1910s to the present have been art films, which were often produced independently from the major Hollywood studios. This course will first consider approaches to conceptualizing the art film and examine the question whether art films constitute a separate film genre or whether they are better defined by their production and distribution. We will discuss how art films distinguish themselves from classical Hollywood film and find out which formal characteristics they have in common despite their apparent heterogeneity. In addition to careful analysis of film form, we will consider the films’ meanings in their historical contexts and discuss how they represent the American experience differently compared to mainstream film. Films discussed may include independent art house, experimental, documentary, and low budget films, as well as Hollywood productions, which exhibit the director’s auteur style. Selected films may include examples from directors such as D.W. Griffiths, F.W. Murnau, John Ford, Maya Deren, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Terrence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, John Cassavetes, Sam Raimi, Spike Lee, Jim Jarmush, David Lynch, Abel Ferrara, Gus van Sant, John Sayles, the Coen brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Todd Solondz, Richard Linklater, Quentin Tarantino, Darren Aronofsky, and Christopher Nolan.


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