Part of my coursework this semester is providing coverage for the 31st Hawaii International Film Festival. The festival began Thursday morning with a press conference at the RumFire Waikiki. It was there that I was introduced to the Princess Dialta Alliata di Montereale, who provides powerful (but not single-handed) leadership to the EuroCinema Hawaii, a festival within a festival at HIFF that brings European film to the islands. After talking with her, I took the opportunity Sunday night to watch the very much talked about 1960 Italian film by Frederico Fellini. So it is after experiencing both of these events, together with some modest researching, that I offer the following reflection on European Cinema.
The princess Dialta described the quintessent difference between American and European Cinema: enterprise. She explained to me that the American film maker is constantly struggling to please a multifarious group of people: the viewers, the producers, the financiers, the agencies and union groups etc. ad infinitum. On the other hand she explained that much of European cinema seeks to critique, convey and paint things as the artist sees fit. And so, she explained, there is a freedom -a very large window- in European cinema because it is not so much ruled by industry, but by the individual.
Now, not all European cinema is categorically similar, but it does help to note some of the key characteristics of European film genres: episodic plot lines, autuer directing styles, and long-ish, drawn-out emphasis placed on the human condition.
With this emphasis comes a existential sentiment that can e felt in most movies. Regardless of what they portray or how different they are externally, I believe almost all european films revolve around the same central question: why are we alive? And it seems that this question is explored through a lens of wistful disillusionment.
How would I describe European cinema? An intellectual inquiry into the human condition.