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Declarations of Independence
American Cinema and the Partiality of Independent Production
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ISBN 9781841501857
Paperback 224 pages
230 x 174 mm
Published March 2008
Imprint: Intellect
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Chapter Titles     |      Reviews     |      Comments

American independent cinema has been an important creative and cultural media entity for the past fifteen years. The approach of this sector is one of cultural construction that simultaneously provides a socio-political reference through which critics and audience can attach certain films to popular movements and ideas.

Declarations of Independence questions the supposed autonomy of this cinema and asks if independent film can possibly survive in the face of the mass-production and profit of Hollywood. Berra’s text presents the reader with a unique structural approach to the subject matter with his arguments mirroring the actual film production process. He gives detailed insight into the core product with reference to specific films and studies of audiences and their enthusiasm for this type of alternative media. American Independent cinema continues to grow as a fashionable scene and Declarations of Independence analyses its popularity, economic viability and the production process of so-called ‘niche’ cinema. Berra uses directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderberg as examples of those who have crossed successfully into the cultural mainstream, altering media and public perception.

This comprehensive book is a useful resource for scholars as it gives an overview of the industry from conception of a film right though to festival exposure and public consumption. Berra also presents a strong academic argument and places the discussion of this increasingly popular genre within a wider socio-political context.

Declarations of Independence has been listed as one of the 'ten must-have books on independent cinema' by Hijack Hollywood.

Chapter titles
Chapter 1: 'Genesis: Modern American Independent Cinema and its Position within an Industry of Mass Production' - Page 9
John Berra
Chapter 2: 'Ancestry of Independence: Easy Rider and the Declaration of a New American Cinema' - Page 29
John Berra
Chapter 3: 'The Art of the Possible: Hollywood Feature Film Production since 1970' - Page 47
John Berra
Chapter 4: 'Oppositional Fantasies: The Economic Structure of American Independent Cinema and its Essential Lineaments' - Page 71
John Berra
Chapter 5: 'Loyalty to the Rhetoric: Four American Film-makers and their Commitment to an Autonomous Mode of Cultural Production' - Page 93
John Berra
Chapter 6: 'Graduating Class: American Independent Cinema as Finishing School' - Page 109
John Berra
Chapter 7: 'A Cultural Comparison: British Independent Cinema and its Relation to its American Counterpart' - Page 129
John Berra
Chapter 8: 'Selective Exhibition: The Sundance Film Festival and its Significance to the Independent Sector' - Page 143
John Berra
Chapter 9: 'The Business of Art: Miramax Films and the Cultivation of the Niche Market' - Page 161
John Berra
Chapter 10: 'The Reception of an Alternative Americana: Audiences and American Independent Cinema' - Page 179
John Berra
Reviews
'In this timely study, John Berra asks us to reconsider what we mean by ‘independent’ cinema in America. He demonstrates the clear gap between popular notions of independence and the commercial realities of movie-making today. He then proceeds to ask vital questions about the whole status of creative autonomy within the contemporary culture industry.' – Dr Richard Howells, Director, Centre for Cultural, Media and Creative Industries Research, King's College London

'John Berra's handsome and generous new study [is] prodigiously well-informed, economically literate, lengthy in its reach (he covers the past four decades with a useful detour among the British as well) and infectiously enthusiastic in excellent prose, he has made an addition to the best literature of film without ever lapsing into the jargon of Theory.' – Professor Fred Inglis, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies, University of Sheffied

'[Berra's] conclusion is well made – it's almost impossible for the indie film to establish economic independence from the mainstream, but we can still celebrate the cultural significance of its "independent spirit" ' – Douglas Allen, UC magazine

'A triumph for an informed, independent author unafraid to un-package the trade in cultural construction that simultaneously provides a socio-political reference through which critics and audience can attach certain films to popular movements and ideas.' – Daniel Packer, Transition, Tradition

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