A Par-asian Transnational Cinema examines the relationship between French and East Asian cinemas, and how New Wave nostalgia shapes Franco-Asian film relations in the 21st century. Whether a fusion of
Asiana variation on
Pan-asian, or an adjectival form of
par l’Asie, my use of the term describes the multiple intersections of local cultural specificities and global cultural flows in cinema. My work is influenced by French studies scholars who interpreted Edward Said’s pioneering work Orientalism (1978) and its implications for post-colonial France during the past fifteen years. My investigations in Par-asian Transnational Cinema, however, takes us beyond late 19th and early 20th century French Orientalist imaginings of the Far East. It aims to illuminate the state of contemporary French cinema’s oscillation between transnational and nationalist impulses in the actual process of creating movies. The Par-asian lens allows us to see more clearly how the French national tradition in cinema has been shaped by its interaction with foreign cultures. At the end of French colonialism in the late 1950s and 1960s, French filmmakers (Alain Resnais, Francois Truffaut) explored French identification with China and Japan, and the challenges it posed for French cultural and artistic values. In effect, they engaged against the grain of dominant modes of representing the Extrême-Orient, which usually enacted a colonialist one-way gaze onto the non-French other. At the present moment, French and East Asian cinemas interact on a transnational stage in which neither pole is dominant. Prominent East Asian filmmakers (Nobuhiro Suwa, Nagisa Oshima, Tsai Ming-Liang, Hou Hsiao-Hsien) have responded to legendary French New Wave films such as Hiroshima mon amour and The 400 Blows (both in 1959), whether in remakes or homages. Sensitive to these developments are French filmmakers Chris Marker and Olivier Assayas, who devote a great deal of screen time to Japanese and Chinese film history. In this current Franco-Asian film exchange lies the imperative to re-map the cultural and politico-economic geographies of film. These re-mappings both re-construct national identities and surpass them.