In This Chapter


Authored by: Yannis Tzioumakis

The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Politics

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415717397
eBook ISBN: 9781315678863
Adobe ISBN: 9781317392460


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Ever since there has been a concentrated, industrially organised basis that assumed (often problematically) the label ‘mainstream film production’ there has always been unorganised, semi- or fully organised film production that has been considered ‘independent’ or ‘alternative’, that is, different in a number of ways from the films of ‘the mainstream’. This can be seen within individual countries and national film industries whereby once a particular mode of filmmaking becomes dominant (and is deemed to support the dominant power structures and the ideologies that hold them together) then other, alternative or independent, forms of filmmaking emerge with many of them providing the diversity of representation and plurality of viewpoint that are perceived to be missing from the films of the mainstream. Taking the United States as an example, one can see a huge range of independent film production practised at the margins of Hollywood cinema as this became crystallised into the films of a handful of major film studios that have dominated American film production since the late 1910s. Of course, not all of this independent film production has supported alternative ideologies or has been openly political or oppositional to the mainstream. Nonetheless, a large number of filmmakers have used film production at the margins or even away from the centre of a film industry and its dominant players to make often strongly political pictures that challenged established power structures, went against national narratives and attacked dominant ideological positions.

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