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Cinema has always been a globalized industry. By 1902 film pioneer Georges Méliès had established an office in New York City to sell and promote his films, and within a few years American film could be found in the remotest parts of the world. The film industries of both the US and France were enriched immeasurably by the contributions of many immigrants and refugees. “American films are so universal,” observed Alfred Hitchcock, “because they’re made by foreigners.”
Yet recent years have seen not only a quantitative but a qualitative increase in this idea of a globalized art and industry. Original material, actors, directors and writers as well as production finance are often assembled from a wide variety of international sources. Moreover, the digital revolution seems to be increasingly be making good on its promise (or threat) of a “borderless world.” Audiences in São Paulo can follow the latest developments in cinema made in Japan, as soon or at times even sooner than Japanese audiences. Hollywood currently depends on the international market for more than 70% of its total revenues, and with a few years Chinese audiences for American blockbusters will be bigger than US domestic audiences.
How will France fare in this new world of increasingly globalized media and market? Does the notion of a “French” cinema still make sense, and what’s its importance for audiences, as well as for producers and exhibitors? Three notable experts in the area of international cinema—Ron Halpern, Aude Hesbert and Serge Kaganski—will explore the question of “the national” in today’s media environment, in a round-table discussion moderated by Columbia University Professor and former Director of the New York Film Festival Richard Peña.