We wanted The Routledge Companion to World Cinema to be a touchstone publication for a crucial moment, when the industry, ideas and functions of film are in tremendous flux, not just from the effects of digital technologies and new screen media, but from economic and political changes that prompt us to question the very utility of the terms ‘world cinema’ and ‘film’. Our attempt at remapping the territories of world cinema and contemporary film studies would therefore be aimed at understanding its history, enhancing awareness of its current condition and plotting trajectories for its development. The book would thus be dedicated to delineating changes in the territories of world cinema in terms of both the longitudinal (geographical, national, regional, transnational and global) and latitudinal (industrial, thematic, aesthetic, technological and commercial) imperatives and parameters.
As the rationale for the book took shape via e-mail discussion, it became imperative that we would have to revise outdated assumptions of national cinemas, replace complacent views of hegemonic film cultures and challenge retrograde ideas of production, distribution and reception. The Routledge Companion to World Cinema would have to cover the subject area in an introduction and forty specially commissioned chapters of between 4,000 and 6,000 words. It needed to exhibit a level of expertise and a standard of comprehensiveness that no currently published volume achieves. Obviously, the assembled authors had to include many world-leading figures, but there was also a lot of room for up-and-coming academics of distinct and proven promise. If this book was going to provide a basis for current and future scholarship in the area of world cinema it would have to combine expert historical knowledge and revisionism with contemporary insight and awareness. We set about assembling our team.