Today I’ll be discussing Noam’s post What All Indie Filmmakers Should Be Learning From French Cinema (http://noamkroll.com/what-all-indie-filmmakers-should-be-learning-from-french-cinema/ ) and comparing its relevance to a recent French film that I love.
I’ll start by deconstructing Noam’s original post, in which he cites the French new wave of the 1960’s as beginning a unique school of artistic cinema that remains to the current day. Noam goes on to give a great contextual backdrop for the post by acknowledging that the French invented motion pictures, and therefore have a genetic relationship with all films and subsequently claim some of the best films ever made.
One of the major things I learned from reading Noam’s post is that the French film industry is quite unique in that films very often make their money back domestically. This explains why French cinema is referred to as having such a large art house sensibility, because inherently filmmakers do not have to pander to a global audience and are free to make films with cultural significance and creative risk taking. In retrospect, this was quite prevalent during Julia Ducournau’s directorial debut, Raw (2016).
Similar to Noam’s experience with Swimming Pool, I was entranced by not only the technical beauty of the Raw, but by its incredibly taboo subject and experimental sensibility. Raw is a film in which a vegetarian women attends a veterinary college and subsequently indulges in cannibalism, however, the film itself does not indulge in blood, gore or depravity. The film is essentially a coming of age drama that develops horror inflections as it progresses, which surprised me very much as I was somewhat expecting a generic turn to slasher and body horror. The reason I was so captivated by this film was that it remained sincere throughout its entire runtime, and also managed to make me empathetic towards a heroin who, by traditional Hollywood standards, would never make it to screen in her current form. My experience during this film was simultaneously filled with empathy, horror, intrigue, amazement and joy, something that I highly doubt I’ll ever get from the Hollywood system.
One element of Noam’s post that I think was absolutely right is that French films often have moral choices that resonate with audiences. In Raw, our lead character Justine becomes darker and in a sense more unwatchable as the film progresses. However, the film is posing moral questions in such a way that it feels as though story and character come before horror or sensationalist gore, and therefore the film and it’s lead maintain their integrity the whole time. In terms of a film’s appeal, Hollywood seems to have decided that massive action set pieces and an overabundance of special effects is the easiest way to appeal to a universal demographic. French cinema continues to stand out around the world because they so often create moral dilemmas that are truly universal.