The Perpetual French Discovery of Australian Cinema
1. Cultural Fantasy 11
11 1. Cultural Fantasy The Perpetual French Discovery of an Ever-Emerging Cinema of the Antipodes The exoticism of the Antipodes has for centuries been a major focal point of European fantasy. French critical reception of Australian cinema, and French constructions of Australian cul- tural identity, reflect the enduring popular image in France of an Australia that is a cultural as well as a geographical opposite – an orientalist relationship that ensures European centricity as much as it perpetuates the marginalisation of Australian cul- tural identity. The theme of perpetual discovery that emerges in French critical writing on Australian film is indicative of a sus- tained cultural marginalisation as much as a practical and com- mercial marginality. Similarly, Australian as well as French or- ganisations, in their attempt to create a niche market in France for what is labelled the Cinema of the Antipodes, perpetuate the notion that each and every identifiably Australian film offers the potential for a fresh European ‘discovery’ of the Antipodes. For as long as French film criticism has maintained its inter- national prestige via film journals of the calibre of Cahiers du ci- néma and Positif, French critical writing on film has itself been the object of analysis, and indeed criticism, from both within and beyond France.1 This book seeks to demonstrate that with regard to particular national cinemas identified in France as ob- scure and far-flung – a status clearly attributed to the example of 1 See, for example, Pierre Ajame, Les critiques de cinéma,...
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