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Millennial Cinema: Auteur Film at the Turn of the Century

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

In the late nineties articles from Susan Sontag, David Thomson, David Denby and others announced the death of cinema, but were they focusing too narrowly on a certain type of death? The old style film culture, based on a handful of film-producing nations, has given way to a more international approach and has made the moving image much more accessible. We will look at some of the great directors behind this shift.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

1. Michael Haneke (Austria): The Cruelty of the Gaze

How the director demands a removed yet complicit relationship with the image.

2. Lars von Trier (Denmark): An Agent Provocateur

A look at why this Danish director often makes provocative conceits in form and content.

3. Tsai Ming-liang (Malaysia): The Mystery of the Invisible

One of the masters of the fixed-frame, Tsai’s films are haunted by solitude, imbued by an audio hush and contained by the continued presence of his actor fetiche, Lee Kang-sheng. Tsai makes films as though there is always a mystery that no narrative can determine and while his filmed may be deemed slow, even plotless, they might better be described as attuned to the invisible.

4. The Dardenne Bros (Belgium): Sensory Motor-Realism

How to make potentially passive characters have all the immediacy of action figures, as social issues become active through the directors’ ‘combat’ style? 

5. Claire Denis (France): The Visual Touch

The eye and the hand tell us much about how to create the intimate in cinema.

6. Wong Kar-Wai (Hong Kong) Giddy Intimacy

A great contemporary romantic, Wong is an auteur attuned to feeling in the most surprising of places.

7. Pedro Almodovar (Spain): Dissidence Enters the Mainstream

Almodovar started out making low-budget films with one eye on post-Franco Spain’s increasing commodification and the other on playing up the sexual proclivities of those in Madrid’s underground scene. Almodovar didn’t so much move with the times as the times moved for him as his work retained its dissident nature but general audiences grew more sexually tolerant. By the 2000s he was Spain’s most representative filmmaker.

8. Alexander Sokurov (Russia) The Spirit is Willing.

The inevitable heir of Tarkovsky, Sokurov indicates the spirit is alive and well in cinema.

9. David Lynch (US): Stressing the Narrative

Most American filmmakers insist films should have a beginning, a middle and an end if not in that order then at least to arrive at order. Lynch doesn’t.

10. Abbas Kiarostami (Iran): Productive Aporia

Few filmmakers create more space for questions than Kiarostami. We wonder how he achieves this open approach that allows for formal precision within manifold interpretive possibilities.

Teaching method(s)

Clips and discussion based.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Discuss the form and content of the films under analysis.

  • Observe that film has never been so international a medium.

  • Feel confident in exchanging ideas and opinions about cinema.


Core Readings


  • Rosenbaum J. and Martin A., 2003. Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia. London: BFI


  • Wood J. 2006. Talking Movies: Contemporary World Filmmakers in Interview. London: Wallflower Press.

  • Beugnet. M., 2007. Cinema and Sensation. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

  • Frampton D. 2006. Filmosophy. London: Wallflower Press.

  • Ranciere J. 2007. The Future of the Image. London: Verso.

Web Sources

Class Handouts

The course will offer notes written by the tutor.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.