Has European cinema, in the age of globalization, lost contact not only with the world at large, but with its own audiences? Between the thriving festival circuit and the obligatory late-night television slot, is there still a public or a public sphere for European films? Can the cinema be the appropriate medium for a multicultural Europe and its migrating multitudes? Is there a division of representational labor, with Hollywood providing stars and spectacle, the Asian countries exotic color and choreographed action, and Europe a sense of history, place and memory?
This collection of essays by an acclaimed film scholar examines how independent filmmaking in Europe has been reinventing itself since the 1990s, faced by renewed competition from Hollywood and the challenges posed to national cinemas by the fall of the Wall in 1989. Elsaesser reassesses the debates and presents a broader framework for understanding the forces at work since the 1960s. These include the interface of "world cinema" and the rise of Asian cinemas, the importance of the international film festival circuit, the role of television, and the changing aesthetics of auteur cinema. New audiences have different allegiances, and new technologies enable networks to reshape identities, but European cinema still has an important function in setting critical and creative agendas, even as its economic and institutional bases are in transition.