Researching in the BiFi – The Peter Morris Memorial Travel Prize
My thesis examines a group of contemporary French films which I locate as the continuation or evolution of the well-studied New French Extremity trend of the 1990s and 2000s. The New French Extremity has been criticised as an arbitrary grouping, but the body of work written on it proves that it was, and continues to be, a very useful and rich construct for academic study. I hope to add to the existing literature and open up a new territory for exploration in demonstrating shared ideas and methods in the subsequent films of directors associated with the NFE.
One problem with the films I have chosen to study is that, aside from directors whose work is massively scrutinised (such as Gaspar Noé), there is very little or no existing academic engagement with them. In order to explain their importance and location in relation to the New French Extremity, it is thus frequently necessary to look to critical engagement, most often in national press reviews. This can be difficult, as many reviews are not easily available.
Fortunately, the Bibliothèque du film (BiFi) at the Cinémathèque française in Paris work incredibly hard to gather together press reviews into an archive, easily searchable using their Ciné-Ressources software. I was complimented for my use of press reviews gathered at the BiFi in my MA dissertation because it allows for an approach to the films which takes into account the popular angle which so often gets overlooked. I want to repeat this in my PhD thesis.
The Peter Morris Memorial Travel Prize money allowed me to take a three-day trip to the BiFi, where I was able to go through their press archives and their impressive collection of film magazines and literature in order to locate sources which will support my arguments and enable me to argue coherently for the importance of this new field of study. I divided my research up between the days, each day focussing on the content of a different chapter of my thesis.
The money not only paid for my train tickets to Paris and for sustenance but also for membership of the BiFi and for the large number of photocopies and amount of printing I had to do!
The funding I receive for my PhD does not include money for travel expenses, so I am incredibly grateful to the ASMCF for offering this opportunity.
Martin Parsons, Nottingham Trent University