European Cinema: Engaging Audiences
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Exeter
Unit of AssessmentModern Languages and Linguistics
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Summary of the impact
Research by film specialists in Modern Languages (ML) at the University
of Exeter promotes the artistic value, diversity and continuing social,
cultural and political relevance of European cinema to a variety of
audiences in the UK and abroad. Their research has advanced community
cohesion through memories of cinema-going (impact 1), informed
the teaching of European cinema in secondary schools and HE (impact 2)
and enhanced cultural life, promoting public appreciation of European
cinema nationally and internationally (impact 3). This has been
achieved through contributing to online archival studies of cinema
audiences, participation in film festivals, introductions to film
screenings, public lectures and DVD commentaries.
To UK audiences, the term `European cinema' might be associated with
elitist, intellectual art cinema with little popular appeal or interest to
a crossover audience. In fact, as the popular success in this country in
the past 20 years of directors such as Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Alejandro
Amenábar, Agnès Jaoui, Mathieu Kassovitz and Tom Tykwer, as well as stars
such as Javier Bardem, Juliette Binoche and Audrey Tautou shows, European
cinema's cultural and economic reach is actually much wider. European
cinema has also always been a cultural space in which filmmakers have
explored, and in which audiences have engaged with, key contemporary
socio-political issues. Reflecting this diversity, the interdisciplinary
research outputs and projects by ML film specialists have led to impact
beyond academia, covering a wide range of both popular and art cinema in
Europe from the 1920s to the present day, and drawing on a range of
historical, sociological, industrial, and cultural approaches to these
films and filmmakers. This research can broadly be divided into three
1) The place of the audience in European cinema
This strand of research pays particular attention to how public
discourses around films are shaped and consumed by audiences and is
directly related to the AHRC collaborative research project `In Search of
Italian Cinema Audiences in the 1940s and 1950s: Gender, Genre and
National Identity' for which Dr Danielle Hipkins (Senior Lecturer,
Italian; appointed 2004) is the CI, working with colleagues from Bristol
and Oxford Brookes Universities (£693,950 awarded, 3.7). The
research focuses on memories of cinema-going in Italy in the 1940s and
1950s, addressing the ways cinema audiences are understood within local
and national community frameworks (3.1).
2) Studies of popular European cinema (genres and stars)
This includes AHRC-funded research (3.8) by Professor Susan
Hayward (Professor of French and film studies 1996-2000; currently
emeritus Professor) on the popular French star Simone Signoret as cultural
sign (3.2), which has fed into her more general work on
stardom and genre in film theory (3.3) and her more recent
publications and British Academy-funded research on the hitherto ignored
political significance of French Costume Dramas of the 1940s and 1950s.
Similarly, Dr Will Higbee (Senior Lecturer, French; appointed
2002) published an AHRC-funded study (3.9) of the transformation of
the popular in contemporary French cinema as symptomatic of wider shifts
in French popular culture in the works of director Mathieu Kassovitz (3.4).
In addition, Professor Sally Faulkner (Associate Professor,
Spanish; appointed 2001) has completed AHRC-funded research into popular
Spanish cinema of the 1960s (3.5 and 3.10), as well as
further AHRC-funded research into middlebrow cinema in Spain (3.11),
which she is currently developing in international contexts. Faulkner's
research has been recognised in the award of the 2013 Philip Leverhulme
Prize. Dr Fiona Handyside's (Senior Lecturer, French; appointed
2007) work on spatiality in her analysis of the representation of the
beach in French cinema since the 1950s (3.6) also includes a focus
on the female star body.
3) A consideration of films as vehicles for articulating and
challenging exclusion and inequality (especially in relation to
questions of gender and ethnicity)
This includes both Hipkins's AHRC-funded research into the
representation of gender in Italian cinema 1945-65, in particular the
figure of the female prostitute (for which she was awarded an AHRC
research-leave grant of £24,227 in 2008-09) as well as AHRC-funded
research by Higbee (3.8) into the representation of social
fracture, immigration and ethnicity in the cinema of director Kassovitz (3.3)
and Handyside's work on sexuality and gender politics in
contemporary French film (3.6).
References to the research
All items have been through a vigorous process of peer-review. 2, 4 and 5
were funded by the AHRC. Faulkner has been awarded the Philip Leverhulme
Prize 2013 for her work on Spanish film.
1. Hipkins, Danielle, with D Treveri Gennari, C.G. O'Rawe (2011), `In
Search of Italian Cinema Audiences in the 1940s and 1950s: Gender, genre
and national identity', Participations, 8:2, 539-53.
2. Hayward, Susan (2004), Simone Signoret: The Star as Cultural Sign,
New York: Continuum.
3. Hayward, Susan (1996), Cinema Studies: the Key Concepts,
London/New York: Routledge.
4. Higbee, Will (2006), Mathieu Kassovitz, Manchester: Manchester
5. Faulkner, Sally (2006), A Cinema of Contradiction: Spanish Film in
the 1960s, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
6. Handyside, Fiona (2012), `Possibilities of a beach: Queerness and
François Ozon's beaches', Screen, 53:1, 54-71
7. D. Hipkins (CI), `In Search of Italian Cinema Audiences in the 1940s
and 1950s: Gender, Genre and National Identity', AHRC Research Project,
8. S. Hayward, (PI), `Simone Signoret: the Star as Cultural Sign', AHRC
Research leave, £12 010, 2002-03.
9. W. Higbee (PI), `Mathieu Kassovitz: an Auteur on both Sides of the
Camera', AHRC Research Leave, £14,102, 2004-5.
10. S. Faulkner, (PI) `A Cinema of Contradiction: Spanish Film in the
1960s', AHRC Research Leave, £14,013, 2004-05.
11. S. Faulkner, (PI) `A New History of Spanish Film: Middlebrow Films
and Mainstream Audiences', AHRC Fellowship, £65,937, 2011.
Details of the impact
Impact 1. Community Cohesion through Memories of Cinema-going
With initial findings published in 3.1, and in collaboration with
colleagues at Bristol and Oxford Brookes, Hipkins analyzed 20
interviews commissioned by the group on memories of cinema-going in Italy
in the 1940s and 1950s, which have been archived online at Memoro (www.memoro.org),
a non-profit organization dedicated to the collation of oral history in
Europe. Since its launch in 2008, Memoro's website has attracted over 11
million page views. From May 2010 to July 2013 the videos of the
interviews linked to Hipkins's research project uploaded to the Memoro
site have been viewed 8,676 times (5.1). The project also considers
the experience of interviewees within community frameworks in the present
day, and in October 2011 findings from the original research were
presented by members of the team at a national meeting of the Italian
University of the Third Age in Turin (5.2), to encourage Italy's
older population to access the interviews and debate the role of
cinema-going in Italy's past.
Impact 2. Teaching Film in Schools and in HE
The research produced by film specialists in ML has informed and
influenced the teaching of European cinema and film theory at both
secondary (A/AS) and HE level. Hayward's book Cinema Studies:
The Key Concepts, is now in its fourth edition [text removed for publication] (5.3).
As the sales figures indicate, the book has become an essential reference
text for film studies students at both A-level and in HE. The first
edition of Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts was published in 1996,
just before Hayward's arrival in Exeter. Revisions to the three subsequent
editions of the book (the latest, fourth edition was published in Spring
2013) have all been completed since Hayward's appointment to Exeter. They
comprise significant revisions and additions to the first edition. The
length of the book has increased from c.150,000 words (first edition,
1996) to c. 240,000 words (fourth edition, 2013). Sizeable new entries,
which reflect new research, have been added since the second edition in
areas such as Postcolonial Cinema, World Cinema, Action Movies, Cult
Cinema, Digital Cinema, CGI and 3-D Technology. Hayward's book was the
first publication in what is now an established series of `Key Guides' for
its publisher, Routledge, which now extends to nearly 100 titles. Cinema
Studies: the Key Concepts has been translated into Korean and
Chinese, with advances paid on licences for further translation and
publication in Arabic, Greek and Turkish (5.3).
Higbee's monograph on French director Mathieu Kassovitz (3.4)
is listed as required reading on numerous HE modules in the UK relating to
film studies, French Studies, and Cultural Studies. La Haine
(Kassovitz, 1995), which is analysed in detail across two chapters in
Higbee's monograph, is taught widely as an optional text across numerous
A-level French syllabuses (AQA, OCR, Edexcel) and as a set text in the
WJEC examination board. (In June, 2010, 2480 students were entered for
WJEC nationally.) Higbee's monograph is cited as a reference text in the
bibliography of Cornerhouse Study Guide for students of AS/A2
French (5.4). In October 2008, Higbee delivered a mini-lecture and
workshop on La Haine to 30 A-level students from Torquay Girls'
Grammar School (TGGS) in October 2008. The Head of French at TGGS said of
the event: `Our students found the lecture very inspiring and there was
definitely a "buzz" in the following lessons' (5.5).
Elsewhere, drawing on her work on Spanish cinema of the 1960s (3.5),
Faulkner participated in a Study Day linked to the Spain
(Un)censored' Film Festival at the BFI in 2008, aimed at the general
film-going public, teachers of Spanish cinema and A-level students,
attracting 122 attendees (5.6).
Impact 3. Enhancing Cultural Life and Public Appreciation of European
(a) DVD commentaries
As a result of her research on the film's star, Simone Signoret, Hayward
was invited to provide an audio commentary for the UK DVD/Blu Ray release
of Les Diaboliques (Clouzot, 1955) by Arrow Films in 2007.
[text removed for publication] (5.7).
(b) Film Festivals
Drawing on her research into 1960s Spanish cinema (3.1), Faulkner
was invited to participate in the `Spain (Un)censored' Film Festival at
the BFI in 2008 (5.6). She introduced La caza (Saura, 1966)
to a public audience of 116 people. Linked to research for his monograph
on Kassovitz, which also deals with broader questions of multicultural and
immigrant identity in French cinema (3.5), Higbee was
invited to participate in a symposium `Cinemas of the Maghreb' as part of
the 2010 Carthage Film Festival (JCC).The symposium attracted c.100
attendees, a mixture of academics, journalists and industry professionals,
and was reported on the Africultures website (5.8). Handyside
organised a `Beaches' film season at the Plymouth Arts Centre centre in
2012. Drawing upon on her methodology for analysing cinematic
representations of beachscapes in (3.3). Handyside wrote
introductory notes to three screenings that attracted c. 900 spectators in
(c) Introductions to Public Film Screenings
In September 2012, Higbee co-founded the Exeter Screen Talks, a
partnership between film specialists in the College of Humanities,
University of Exeter, and the national chain Picturehouse Cinemas. Working
in collaboration with the Picturehouse's national programmer and the
manager of the cinema in Exeter, film specialists from the College of
Humanities design a programme of fortnightly screenings, deliver
introductions to each film and host a discussion with members of the
public after the screenings. Faulkner, Handyside, Higbee and Hipkins
have delivered six introductions between September 2012 and June 2013 as
part of the `Hidden Classics of European Cinema' strand of the Exeter
Screen Talks, attracting a total of 210 spectators. The project also has
impact beyond the region, particularly through the use of social media
(Facebook and Twitter) as well as the blog entry (written by the academic
giving the talk) that is published online at least a fortnight before the
screening and remains on the blog as an archive of each talk (5.10).
Sources to corroborate the impact
- Details of numbers of views for each video on the Memoro site can be
Select the tab marked `Le Interviste' on this page to see number of
- Università della terza età (Italian University of the Third Age), www.unitre.net.
- Impact of Cinema Studies : the Key Concepts can be
corroborated by the Senior Editor of Media and Culture Studies,
Routledge. See factual statement 1.
- Higbee's book can be found on reading lists for FREN2205 (University
of Leeds); LT336 (University of Essex); HUV-220 (Salford University) and
FM2006 (Brunel University). Details of the number of students studying
on WJEC A-level French can be found at : http://www.wjec.co.uk/uploads/publications/14410.pdf
(p. 18) [Accessed 24 June, 2012]. The Cornerhouse Study Guide to La
Haine where Higbee's book is referenced in the bibliography can be
- Impact of Higbee's workshop can be corroborated by the following
- `Spain (Un)censored' at the BFI: http://www.pragda.com/curated-programs/spain-uncensored-bfi-southbank.
Details of impact can be corroborated by factual statement 2.
Impact can be corroborated by the Label Manager at Arrow Film
Distributors. See factual statement 3.
[Last accessed 31 July 2013]. Higbee's event reported here: http://www.africultures.com/php/index.php?nav=article&no=9867
[Last accessed 31 July 2013].
- Figures for attendance to screenings curated by Handyside can be
confirmed by factual statement 4.
- Exeter Screen Talks blog: includes links to Facebook page and Twitter
Audience figures for screenings with introductions by ML academics can
be corroborated by the manager of Exeter Picturehouse. See corroborator