The ‘Transnational Regional’ in Francophone Belgian Cinema
Steele, Jamie Nicholas
Date: 9 January 2014
University of Exeter
PhD in Film
This thesis explores the films produced in the francophone Belgian region of Wallonia as a case study for the configuration of what will be termed a ‘transnational regional’ cinema. The first section of this dynamic is considered in relation to film and cultural policy, which problematizes the possible formation of a clearly delineated ...
This thesis explores the films produced in the francophone Belgian region of Wallonia as a case study for the configuration of what will be termed a ‘transnational regional’ cinema. The first section of this dynamic is considered in relation to film and cultural policy, which problematizes the possible formation of a clearly delineated regional or ‘national’ cinema. This presupposes a reconfiguring of the transnational along the lines of the regional and the linguistic communities of Belgium, which, in essence, pertains to how production, distribution and exhibition mechanisms function within the devolved region of Wallonia. This section therefore focuses on film policy as well as a macro- and micro- economic analysis of the industry in order to consider the perceived imbalance between Belgian and French cinema. In the second half, the thesis develops a textual analysis of a series of case study films to consider how cultural film policy and francophone Belgian identity is imagined and then imaged on screen. The interplay between the transnational and the regional is then nuanced by the approaches to the ‘transnational regional’ aesthetic. This aesthetic includes the visualization of the rural and urban Walloon landscape in Eldorado (Bouli Lanners, 2008) and Ultranova (Lanners, 2006) and the ‘marked’ regional landscape in Cages (Olivier Masset-Depasse, 2006). The shift in location across the conterminous border with France due to the logic of film funding engenders the approach to the ‘marked’ regional space in Masset-Depasse’s film. The final chapter tracks this aesthetic through to the works of the Dardenne brothers and in particular Le gamin au vélo (Dardenne brothers, 2011) in order to approach the construction of a peripheral spatial formation through corporeal movements. This therefore necessitates a consideration of how the Dardenne brothers’ film chimes with waves of European filmmaking, thereby revealing a regional space that is conceptualized as de-centred.
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