City Lit at the BFI: New French Extremity

Course Dates: 10/05/22 - 31/05/22
Time: 18:30 - 20:30
Location: BFI Southbank
Tutors: 
Celebrated within international film culture and renowned for a willingness to experiment formally, French cinema has long sought to challenge and delight audiences, but it has also always pushed the boundaries of the permissible and the acceptable. From the violent eye-slice in Un Chien Andalou/An Andalusian Dog (Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali 1929), to the darkly satirical Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard 1969), cinema in France has continued a long tradition of artistic and social dissent that can be traced back to the Marquis de Sade, the Comte de Lautréamont and Georges Bataille. In the late 1990s and early 2000s a series of films appeared in France that the critic James Quandt famously labelled the ‘New French Extremity’. This four-week course will accompany a season at the BFI devoted to these films, directed by filmmakers such as Gaspar Noé (Carné 1991, Irréversible 2002), Virginie Despentes (Baise-moi 2000), Catherine Breillat (Romance 1999) and Marina de Van (Dans ma peau 2001), among others. It will consider the historical, cultural, social and political context for this phenomenon and seek to examine a number of these films in detail.

Please note that some of the films studied on this course contain explicit sexual content and depict graphic violence. While care will be taken in the presentation of sequences from these films and in the discussions around them, please be aware that some of the material will be challenging and difficult.
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Full fee £89.00 Senior fee £89.00 Concession £54.00

This course has now started

Course Code: HF310

Started Tue, eve, 10 May - 31 May '22

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

Call us to check if you can still join the course 020 7492 2652 (depart num)

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What is the course about?

This course will explore a recent phenomenon in French cinema, which has become known as ‘New French Extremity’. Arguably, the continuation of a tradition of artistic dissent in French culture, evident in literature, fine art and film, this moment in film history spans the 1990s through to the late 2000s, although certain more recent films have been associated with it too. The course will enable you to engage in some of the key debates that have emerged around the ‘New French Extremism’, such as questions of obscenity, issues in relation to the representation of both sex and violence, and the exploration of female desire in cinema.

The course accompanies a season of classic films from this period at the BFI Southbank, ranging from an early example, C’est arrivé pres de chez vous/Man Bites Dog (Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel and Benoit Poelvoorde 1992 Belgium), to more recent films, such as Marina de Van’s Dans ma peau/In my Skin (2002 France).

What will we cover?

The course will consider the historical, cultural, social and political context for the ‘New French Extremity’ by looking at relevant antecedents in literature, art and cinema. It will explore a number of specific films in detail. These will include: C’est arrivé pres de chez vous/Man Bites Dog (Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel and Benoit Poelvoorde 1992 Belgium), Romance (Catherine Breillat 1999 France), Irréversible (Gaspar Noé 2002 France) and Dans ma Peau/In my Skin (Marina de Van 2002 France). Reference will also be made to other films screened as part of the BFI’s ‘New French Extremity’ season.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Recognise and understand cinematic features associated with the ‘New French Extremism’
• Be in a position to situate the ‘New French Extremism’ within a French historical, social, political and cultural context
• Be able to articulate some of the key debates that have emerged around the ‘New French Extremism’, such as questions of obscenity, issues in relation to the representation of both sex and violence, and the exploration of female desire in cinema.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course does not presuppose any film knowledge and is open to anyone with an interest in French cinema and film studies more generally. Please note that some of the films studied on this course contain explicit sexual content and depict graphic violence. While care will be taken in the presentation of sequences from these films and in the discussions around them, please be aware that some of the material will be challenging and difficult.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will be taught in the Studio at the BFI Southbank. It will involve an informal lecture using PowerPoint slides as well as the screening of clips from films studied on the course. There will be regular opportunities for class discussion. Work outside of the class is not required; however, you are encouraged to attend the screenings associated with the course as part of the BFI’s ‘New French Extremity’ season, running throughout the duration of the course.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You should bring a device or a pen and paper to take notes, if you wish to. All clips from films shown during the class will be provided by the tutor.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

City Lit offers a range of film courses, covering many genres, periods and nations. Please consult the website for forthcoming courses: https://www.citylit.ac.uk/courses/history-culture-and-writing/film-studies/film-studies.

Paul Sutton

Dr. Paul Sutton is an independent film scholar who has taught Film Studies in UK higher education for over 25 years. His research covers psychoanalytic and film theory as well as Italian and French cinema and critical theory. He has published articles in journals such as Screen, French Studies and the Journal for Cultural Research. He is currently writing a psychoanalytic book on film spectatorship, Afterwardsness in Film, and has recently published work on television as a form of palliative care, and an assessment of the films of the Italian experimental filmmaker Ugo Nespolo.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.