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Weirdness, Feel-bad and New Extremism in Contemporary Greek, Austrian, Romanian and French Film
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages. (LNUC i intermediala studier)
2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this paper, I will approach the question of the use of what can be labelled as weirdness in a number of contemporary films from Greece, Austria and Romania and compare them to the use of provocative elements in the French New Extremism Wave. Indeed, these films seem to share the aim to create a feeling of discomfort in the viewer, and have therefore been labeled as The Greek Weird Wave (Steve Rose, 2011), Austrian feel-bad film (Dennis Lim, 2006), the French New-Extremism (Dennis Quandt, 2004). The Romanian film has only the label of “Romanian New Wave”, but has similar characteristics, both thematically and esthetically. Some such characteristics are “awkward dialogue, heightened background noise, sudden violence and emotional breakdown” (Rose, 2011), a “predilection for depicting the banal underbelly of Austrian society, which many filmmakers carefully dissect through strong formal agendas and unflinching hyperrealism” (Lim, 2006), or a “crossover between sexual decadence, bestial violence and troubling psychosis” (Edwin N., mubi.com).

Weirdness does not seem to be gratuitous in these films, but its meaning can on the other hand not be easily established. Admittedly, allegorical interpretations in political directions are possible and relevant, whether those concern the financial breakdown (as in the Greek examples) or the difficult adaptation to neo-liberalism (as in the Romanian examples) or just the movement against neo-liberalism and the capitalist market (as in the Austrian and French examples). In an essay (Galt, Rosalind, 2013. “Default Cinema: Queering Economic Crisis.” Screen, 54.2: 62-81) that focuses on the contemporary cinema of Argentina, a country that has experienced similar financial breakdown and subsequent austerity measures, Rosalind Galt argues that the films works against a neo-liberalist construction of the world. For her “their refusal to make sense, their jamming of the gears of social productivity” constitutes a “refusal, in formal terms, of futurity”. And in this she finds “the potential for a queer default cinema” (Galt, 2013:66). Rather than presenting the issues in a familiar way that reasserts the language of the status quo, the films promote weirdness in order to destabilize the conventions: “[t]he perverse and surreal is made to feel quite commonplace in these films, yet meaning remains opaque”, their lack of sense, here being presented as actively political rather than stylistically superficial (Galt 65).

But weirdness cannot be reduced to these allegorical interpretations. Its use allows for esthetic innovation, which will be studied here by a close reading of some case studies, such as Dogtooth, The Alps and Attenberg from Greece, Ulrich Seidl’s Dog’s Days and Paradise Trilogy from Austria, and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, The Death of Mister Lazarescu and Pozitia copilului from Romania. Because of time limits, French films will only be used as background examples in order to study the use of provocative elements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
Keyword [en]
Provocation, Feel-Bad, Weird, New Extremism, New Romanian Cinema
National Category
Languages and Literature Studies on Film
Research subject
Humanities, Film Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-43502OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-43502DiVA: diva2:815456
Conference
Provocation as Art: Scandal, Shock and Sexuality in Contemporary Cinema and Visual Culture. 2nd Ekphrasis Conference on Cinema and Visual Culture 28-29 May, 2015, Cluj, Romania
Available from: 2015-06-01 Created: 2015-06-01 Last updated: 2017-03-24Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
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More styles
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