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Film and the City: The Urban Imaginary in Canadian Cinema

Film and the City: The Urban Imaginary in Canadian Cinema (Paperback)

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Synopsis

For many years, Canadian cinema was dominated by the documentary tradition of the National Film Board, which tended to promote what film scholar Jim Leach has called the "nationalist-realist project"-films that privileged Canada's natural landscape and sought to conjure a unified sense of Canadian identity from images of empty, untrammelled wilderness and bucolic farmlands. Over the past several decades, however, the hegemony of this fundamentally colonial, Anglo-centric vision has been challenged by francophone and First Nations perspectives and by the growth of cities, where most Canadians now reside, as economic and technological centres. In opposition to the mythic "Canada" shaped through the lens of rural nostalgia, Canadian urban identity asserts itself as polyphonic, diverse, constructed through multiple discourses and mediums, as an ongoing negotiation rather than a monolithic orientation. Taking the urban as setting and subject, filmmakers are ideally poised to capture this multiplicity, creating their own, idiosyncratic portraits of the Canadian urban landscape and of the people who inhabit it.

Examining fourteen Canadian films produced from the late 1980s onward, including Denys Arcand's Jesus de Montreal (1989), Mina Shum's Double Happiness (1994), and Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg (2007), Film and the City is the first comprehensive study of Canadian film and "urbanity"-the totality of urban culture and life as refracted through the filmmaker's prism. Drawing on insights from both film and urban studies and building upon issues of identity formation long debated in Canadian studies, Melnyk considers how filmmakers interpret and employ the spatiality, visuality, and orality of urban space and how audiences read the films that result. In this way, Film and the City argues that Canadian narrative film of the postmodern period has contributed to the articulation of a new, multifaceted understanding of national identity.

Film, TV & DramaFilms, cinemaFilm theory & criticismPhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesSocial groupsUrban communities Publisher: AU Press Publication Date: 01/04/2014 ISBN-13: 9781927356593  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
Availability: To Order. Estimated despatch in 1-3 weeks.  

George Melnyk is associate professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at the University of Calgary. He is the author of One Hundred Years of Canadian Cinema (2004), as well as the editor of The Young, the Restless, and the Dead: Interviews with Canadian Filmmakers (2008) and, with Brenda Austin-Smith, of The Gendered Screen: Canadian Women Filmmakers (2010).

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