05 février 2013

Corporate Culture (Rosenbaum)

"The trend in the United States of putting our cultural destiny in the hands of business executives seems especially misguided when compared with the achievements of government-supported initiatives in Europe. [..]
A law passed in 1957 guaranteed “final cut” to directors. That law didn’t eliminate state censorship, but it did protect film makers from the meddlesome cutting and re-editing of their work by producers, distributors, and theater programmers. Such intrusion -– with an eye more on the marketplace than on the artistic integrity of the film – is common in the United States, and is systematically perpetrated by both Miramax, which is the largest American distributor of foreign films (and is owned, incidentally, by Disney), and Bravo, the only national cable-television channel devoted to foreign films. [..]
"The state-supported Cinémathèque Française -– co-founded (in 1936) and directed by a passionate eclectic, the Turkish-born Henri Langlois (who was anything but a state bureaucrat) — provided a school and training ground for film makers such as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, who would form the core of the French New Wave. Many of their early features were made possible by a system of government advances on projected ticket sales. Commissions from state television also played an important role in keeping those film makers working, just as, in the 1970s, it was largely state-run German television that helped to launch the New German Cinema of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, and Wim Wenders. [..]
Government activity in the United States played a crucial role in nurturing the French New Wave and New German Cinema here as well. A Supreme Court antitrust ruling on July 28, 1949, broke the major studios’ exclusive control over theaters and what they exhibited. That allowed independent theaters to flourish, which in turn led to the growth of art houses — more than 1,000 were operating by the late ’60s –-and to their ability to show foreign and independent films. But once President Reagan came into office, the government stopped enforcing antitrust laws favoring independents; as a result, movie theaters that want to show films not released by the major studios have had a hard time supporting themselves."
The Danger of Putting Our Cultural Destiny in the Hands of Business
(Jonathan Rosenbaum; The Chronicle of Higher Education; 17 April 1998)


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