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Introduction THIS ISSUE OF L'ESPRIT CREATEUR grew from a shared desire to raise a set of questions related to gender in French cinema since the Nouvelle Vague of the late 1950s. Among the topics we wanted to address were sexuality and sexual identity, representations of relations between men and women on the screen, the remarkable increase in women directors, and the transformation of male and female actors into iconic figures whose sexual identities reach beyond the individual roles they play. The three of us felt that despite the difficulty of translating the term "gender" into French, the questions this notion raises correspond to evolving attitudes and values worthy of closer attention. These questions have an institutional urgency because they respond to resistance—often bordering on hostility—on the part of important segments of the French academic and critical establishment to recognizing the validity of gender-based approaches to film analysis. The critical treatment of gender in recent accounts of post-New Wave French film thus provides a preliminary measure of wider issues in the social and political evolution of France over the past four decades. For many years, the major work of reference in French was Françoise Aude's Ciné-modèles, Cinéma d'elles (1981). More recently, important new studies have appeared, most notably Geneviève Sellier and Noël Burch's 1996 study, La Drôle de guerre des sexes du cinéma français, 1930-1956, and Claude Gauteur and Ginette Vincendeau's Jean Gabin, anatomie d'un mythe (1993). In the United States, the most significant treatment of gender-related questions in French cinema is without a doubt Sandy Flitterman-Lewis's To Desire Differently: Feminism and the French Cinema ( 1990). Additional critical work in this field has come over the past decade from Great Britain, in studies by Vincendeau, Susan Hayward, Phil Powrie, and Guy Austin that have enriched critical understanding of issues related to gender in French films. In the past year alone, Emma Wilson's French Film Since 1950: Personal Histories, Elizabeth Ezra and Sue Harris's France in Focus: Film and National Identity, and Lucy Mazdon's France on Film: Reflections on Popular French Cinema have added to the rapidly increasing bibliography on the subject. Jill Forbes's The Cinema in France: After the New Wave (1992) remains a breakthrough text. Her death from cancer in July 2001 silenced a compelling voice among students of contemporary France as well as lovers of French film. The intelligence and energy that Jill brought to this field were amply demonstrated during the colloquium that provided the inspiration for this Vol. XLII, No. 1 3 L'Esprit Créateur issue, as well as in the article based on the paper that she delivered on that occasion. We will sorely miss the warmth and humor that Jill brought to colleagues and friends on both sides of the Atlantic. In The Cinema in France, Forbes demonstrates the formative importance of the New Wave, which she characterizes as a form of film practice linked to a complex of "aesthetic, technical, political and social positions."1 The impact of this practice on filmmakers of the 1970s and since, including Philippe Garrel, Jean Eustache, Bertrand Tavernier, Maurice Pialat, and Bertrand Blier, was such that they felt obliged to position themselves in relation to it, even after its demise. While the exact date of this demise remains open to question, Forbes links it convincingly to May 1968 when she writes that: The "post-nouvelle vague" is also the period after May 1968 and it would be difficult to overstate the impact of this great social and cultural caesura on the cinema. May 1968 forced filmmakers to confront the influence of mass communications and to ask questions about the "truth" and the "reality" of the image. It presented filmmakers with the challenge of television and made them consider the politics of representation. It introduced new social actors to the screen and to film making, it called for the reinterpretation of history and, in exposing the problematic absence of the "people" which in Marxist literature had long been unquestioningly assumed to exist, it forced all those working in the culture industries...


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