Tag Archives: Popular culture

Cinema, the government and the popular

The latest issue of the Journal of Popular Film and Television features my article Cinema, the Government, and the Popular: Popular and Commercial Aspects of Cultural Film Support in Flanders (Belgium). You can download it here.

cinema-the-government-and-the-popular

The article examines the evolution of both the popular and the commercial aspects within the official film production support in Flanders between 1964 and 2002. The article sheds light on the policy motivations underlying the cultural-commercial tension, which was a permanent issue of conflict for the Flemish film policy actors. As such, it provides a broader historical context to my publication on Flemish popular comedies in the 1980s.

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Reframing the remake

Rip-Off or Resourceful Creativity? is the title of the latest special issue (edited by Sarah Smyth and Connor McMorran) of the Frames Cinema Journal, focusing on remakes. It features an article called Reframing the remake: Dutch-Flemish monolingual remakes and their theoretical and conceptual implications, by Eduard Cuelenaere, Stijn Joye and myself. The article offers some first theoretical reflections on remakes and the academic field of remake studies, stemming from our recently started research project on Dutch-Flemish remakes (cf. this previous blog post). You can read the article at full length here.

reframing-the-remake-frames

In the article, we explicitly take distance from ‘anti-remake debates’ offering a normative standpoint towards remakes. We instead aim for a more nuanced reading of the remake practice. Our argument is based upon an examination of Dutch-Flemish remakes, which proves to be an original contribution to the field of remake studies, as well as an excellent exemplar in the context of the deconstruction and reframing of discourses about the global remake practice. As a first step, we claim that the non-commercial aura of the European remake should be revisited because the Dutch-Flemish monolingual remakes clearly disclose a similar incentive to the one that often inspires Hollywood remakes: financial gains. Furthermore, our case underlines the need for a more nuanced understanding of intercultural media practices, including the cultural proximity theory. Lastly, we reveal a remarkable discrepancy between the essentialist conception of cultural identity—that is put forward by remake directors—and the constructionist conception, which is dominant in scholarly discussions.

From culturally respectable to pleasant films

The latest issue of Volkskunde features an article I wrote on the revival of popular comedies in the 1980s. You can read the full article here.

The article shows that the official film production policy in Flanders played an important role in the revival of the genre of Flemish popular comedies in the eighties. When a film support system was installed in 1964, the cultural dimension of films, in the sense of their artistic and intellectual qualities, was dominating the policy discourse and practices (cf. this previous publication). In 1981, after years of Christian Democratic domination, the Ministry of Culture, and thus the film policy, was taken over by the Liberals. After a dispute between the new minister and the old film commission (which advised the minister on the allocation of government grants to film projects), the latter was fired and replaced. The replacements of important policy actors marked a shift in the development of Flemish film policy. Audience-oriented and commercial-economic motivations became more important, which was manifested in the support for popular comedies, such as films with the comic duo Gaston and Leo, or with the comedian Urbanus.

hector-lowPoster for Hector (1987), with Urbanus. Source: Ronnie Pede; Copyright: Multimedia, Eyeworks, Linden Film

While the Liberal ministers were outright supporters of popular comedies, the film commission was more nuanced toward such projects. For the most part, the commission found the quality standards of the popular comedies insufficient. On the other hand, these film projects raised economic arguments on the continuity of film production and attracting private investments, important elements in creating a stronger Flemish film industry. Moreover, attracting a large audience was a decisive argument. Connected to this argument, there was a broadening of the vision on what is culturally valuable and thus deserves government support. In addition to artistic and qualitative elements, the entertainment value of the films and the viewing pleasure of the audience were also taken into consideration, which weakened the earlier aversion to popular culture. The popular comedies show that from the eighties on, not only culturally respectable films, but also amusement films without much artistic or intellectual ambitions were deemed worthy to be supported by the government.