New Hollywood

Hegedüs Kata
2023 September 15., Friday 09:29.

Dr. Deborah Hardt teaches at Izmir University in Turkey. The American lecturer is a professor in the Department of Moving Image and Digital Media. During her Erasmus exchange she held a course about Old and New Hollywood, also walked our students through documentary film genres. The course also examined European influences – touching on Italian neorealism and the French New Wave. It also analysed the content of the script through films and documentary reconstructions and their impact on the perspective of truth.

How did the groundbreaking films of the New Hollywood era (1965-1975) challenge traditional storytelling techniques and pave the way for the innovative filmmaking we see today?

The groundbreaking films of the New Hollywood era shook the foundations of traditional storytelling in cinema. The restrictive Hays Code, which dictated what could be shown and what stories could be told, was lifted in the 1960s and this ushered in a new and innovative era in filmmaking in the US. During this period, filmmakers dared to break away from the well-worn three-act structure, embracing fragmented storytelling and opening the door to more unconventional techniques. They also addressed previously taboo subjects, including sex, drugs, and violence, inviting a more candid exploration of human experiences on screen.

Perhaps more importantly, the era introduced morally complex and antiheroic characters as central figures, challenging the simplistic notions of heroism and allowing audiences to engage with more layered and realistic protagonists. This period’s commitment to authenticity, manifested through on-location shooting, naturalistic lighting, and improvisational acting, gave rise to a more visceral cinematic experience that continues to influence contemporary filmmaking. The films of the New Hollywood era redefined storytelling in cinema. Today filmmakers draw inspiration from their willingness to experiment and strive for authenticity on the screen.

In your course you gave our students a sneak peek into old Hollywood films, do you think audiences would be interested in that type of filmmaking today? 

I think that audiences today are still drawn to the filmmaking of the New Hollywood era because it offers a departure from formulaic storytelling, providing unexpected narratives. The authenticity and willingness to explore difficult and even controversial themes in these films resonate with modern viewers who seek more profound and thought-provoking cinematic experiences, which in the age of Marvel and other Hollywood franchise films, is increasingly important.

What fascinating intersections can we discover between the European influences on New Hollywood films and the distinct American sensibilities, and how did these collaborations shape the unique cinematic language of the era?

The New Hollywood era witnessed a fascinating interplay between European influences and distinct American style. European movements like the French New Wave and Italian Neorealism introduced American filmmakers to innovative techniques such as handheld camera work and shooting in the real world as opposed to shooting on a constructed set on a soundstage with controllable conditions and lighting. Collaborations between European and American filmmakers further enriched this cinematic language, ultimately shaping the era’s groundbreaking films, characterized by their visual innovation, narrative complexity, and social relevance. The film Bonnie and Clyde from 1967 demonstrates the influence of the French New Wave most distinctly, as it embraced jump-cuts, zoom-lenses, and anti-hero themes.

What is the biggest misconception about Hollywood in your opinion? 

One of the biggest misconceptions about Hollywood is that it solely prioritizes profit over artistic merit. While Hollywood certainly aims for commercial success, it has a rich history of producing influential and artistically significant films that challenge this stereotype and demonstrate the industry’s capacity for creative innovation. There is a wide range of films that fall into the category “Hollywood” films.


Why did you choose The University of Theatre and Film Arts of Budapest and what were your favourite experiences at our institution?

I chose this institution because of its rich history and reputation for producing talented filmmakers and artists. I was drawn to the vibrant cultural scene in Budapest and the fantastic coffee houses!

Working with the passionate and creative students at the University was the highlight of the experience, as they are inquisitive, knowledgeable, and very engaged with learning about film history and theory. Exploring the beautiful city of Budapest and its cinematic history has been a true pleasure, and I look forward to continuing to contribute to the vibrant film community at your esteemed university.

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