I pity the French Cinema because it has no money. I pity the American Cinema because it has no ideas. –Jean-Luc Godard
Ever since high school, I have been pondering the uses and disuses of government funding of the arts. With regards to film the different policies in Europe and North America have engendered two types of cinema: European art house films and American blockbusters. A quote by a certain David Carr, a libertarian:
Many years ago, not long after I had graduated from law school, I briefly succumbed to a rather silly conviction that I was a cultural barbarian and this state of affairs could be addressed by becoming an afficianado of European cinema. I should admit that this conviction was in no small measure driven by the belief that being au fait with the work of European film-makers was a surefire way to impress the girlies.
So I started to spend much of my free time ferreting out art-house independent cinemas (of the kind that sold organic brownies in the foyer instead of popcorn) and sat through endless hours of turgid, narcolepsy-inducing, state-funded, navel-gazing about the tortured psychological relationship between a middle-aged sub-postmaster and his trotskyite revolutionary girlfriend in the seedy hostel they share with a couple of Vietnamese refugees on the outskirts of Hamburg. Or something.
These films have all amalgamated in my mind and I cannot remember the name of even a single one. After about six months, I decided that no woman was worth this level of constipation so I threw the towel in and went back to watching simplistic sci-fi blockbusters and gangster movies.
While I find Carr’s position particularly barbaric, I can understand his irritation at some European directors who excel at pompousness, seriousness and pretentiousness. Also, there seems to be no popular European cinema. Dyer and Vincendeau have argued in the early nineties that the only European popular cinema is US cinema. But surely, there has been a European popular cinema in the sixties and seventies?
On different note David Lynch is someone (whose films I like) who seems to be working within this paradigm of European artsiness and I wonder: are his films making money? Where does one find this kind of info. Here?
Also, government funding is tied in with the concept of cultural significance, the rationale being that a government can fund the cultural significant products of tomorrow.