Introduction: Between The Essay Film and Social Cinema


Call it meaningful coincidence. The dossier in this issue of SubStance was well along in production when I realized that its appearance would mark the fiftieth anniversary of the article in which Richard Roud first referred to Chris Marker, Agnès Varda and Alain Resnais as Left Bank filmmakers.1 As Roud noted in the first line of his 1962 article, classification is a kind of analogy that proves nothing unless it tells us more about what is being classified. The “something more” Roud sought to provide was a viable means of situating the work of these three filmmakers apart from that of Right Bank filmmakers François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and others associated more closely with the Cahiers du cinéma. Summarizing his geography-based analogy, Roud asserted that the Left Bank was not so much an area as a state of mind.

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