Revise, Rewatch, Rewrite

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One of the most obvious ways in which the revisionism and usefulness of The Routledge Companion to world Cinemas will be tested is by comparison with prevailing theories and frameworks of World cinema. Unafraid to take on Benedict Anderson’s theory of imagined communities or the long-standing paradigm of eight concepts of national cinemas elaborated by Stephen Crofts, The Routledge Companion to world Cinemas has to respectfully remap the territory, technology and ideology of World cinema in ways that make it a touchstone text.

In elaborating his eight concepts of national cinemas, Crofts writes from an occidental view of World cinema and deploys generalisations and stratifications that can create unhelpful hierarchies. For Crofts, Indian cinema is Bollywood, which he rates far above Bangladeshi cinema or Dhallywood, for example, while similar hierarchies also weaken understandings of ‘African’ cinema, which is more usefully approached as a plethora of different types of cinemas. He also describes Australian and Canadian cinemas as “imitations of US cinema”, which promotes another hierarchical categorisation that does ignores other kinds of cinemas within both, such as Aboriginal and Canadian French-language cinema, for example, that do not look to Hollywood cinema, which he equates with “United States cinema” as their model.

Aiming to complicate and explain a more authentic view of World cinemas, we sought to commission chapters from experts in their fields. In terms of a chapter on Australasian cinema, we invited Jonathan Rayner, who is Reader in Film Studies at the University of Sheffield, School of English. He is the author of The Films of Peter Weir (1998/2003) Contemporary Australian Cinema (2000), The Naval War Film (2007) and The Cinema of Michael Mann (2013) and co-editor with Graeme Harper of Cinema and Landscape (2010). His research interests include Australian cinema, Gothic films, genre cinema, auteur studies, film and landscape, and maritime history on screen.

This was his abstract.

Australasian Cinema: Conventions, Preventions, Interventions

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The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Stephan Elliott, Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Australian Film Finance Corporation

This chapter will explore the development of the cinemas of Australia and New Zealand, considering their national and international importance. The histories and critical interpretations of the products of these film industries have been marked by the impact of external and internal, institutional and cultural factors. Textually Australasian films have been made and read as purveyors of specific national imagery, ideals and orthodoxies, and as commercial competitors and aesthetic assertions against media imperialism. Contextually, Australasian film production has reflected and reacted to altering patterns of financing and state patronage, supporting the aspirations for sustained and profitable indigenous cinemas. This chapter will explain how Australasian films and filmmakers have assumed responsibilities of representation, and how they maintain their distinctiveness, relevance and influence profile in contemporary international cinema.

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