Soviet expansionism: Fedor Ozep’s transnational cinema

Soviet expansionism: Fedor Ozep’s transnational cinema

Mackenzie, Scott

Resume: La carriere du cineaste emigre Fedor Ozep illustre la facon par laquelle l’esthetique cinematographique transnationale est souvent marginalise par les discours qui theorisent les cinemas nationaux.

Ozep… represents all those refugees, nomads and exiles whom fate drove from one country and era to another and who regularly get passed over in criticism, either because they fit none of the patterns or because they disappear into the diversity of them. Raymond Durgnat1

Fedor Ozep (b. Fyodor Alexandrovitch Otsep) is one of the great footnotes of cinema history-a filmmaking version of Woody Allen’s character Zelig. In Quebec and Canada, Ozep is best-known-and for the most part, only known-as the “Hollywood” filmmaker imported to Quebec in order to direct three of the first sound features produced in the province: Le Pere Chopin (1944), La Forteresse (1947) and its English-language counterpart, Whispering City (1947). Yet before his arrival in Quebec, Ozep was lurking in the shadows of many of the great early Eastern and Western European national cinema movements, making films in the USSR, Germany, Italy, the UK, Spain and France, before relocating to Hollywood, and then Quebec. His invisibility in film history is aided not only by near-continuous immigration, but also by the plethora of spellings of his name: in Russia and the USSR, Fyodor Otsep, Fyodor Otzep, and Fjodor Otsep (all transliterations of the Cyrillic); in Western Europe and North America, Fedor Ozep; in Spain, Pedro Otzoup. (For consistency’s sake, I will use the surname Ozep throughout this article.)

The present work is as concerned with the reception of Ozep’s films in different nations and historiographical contexts as it is with the actual films themselves. The reason for this is that the process of cinematic canonisation relies not only on questions of “quality” that surround certain films and cinematic movements, but also on the critical discourses which are deployed to interpolate films into the canon at any given time. Beyond the historical interest in his work as it pertains to early feature filmmaking in Quebec and Canada, Ozep also represents an under-analysed aspect of the histories of national cinemas: his films deploy narrative and stylistic devices hybridised from the different film movements and national cultures in which he worked. To this extent, his work represents a trend in European cinema that has often been marginalised, precisely because it is seen as a threat. As Tim Bergfelder notes,

Discourses on European cinema have traditionally focused less on the inclusive or cross-cultural aspects the term ‘European’ might imply, but on notions of national specificities, cultural authenticity and indigenous production contexts. In order to establish a national identity for a particular film culture, features which transcend or contradict these identity formations have been either neglected or marginalised, but also viewed as threatening.2

Ozep’s transnational cinema demonstrates that the stylistic intertextuality, so celebrated in contemporary, post-modern cinema, can in fact be traced back to the silent era. Along with Ozep, Hitchcock, in his early silent films such as The Lodger (UK, 1926) and The Ring (UK, 1927), can be seen as part of this development, as can Kuleshov’s The Extraordinary Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (USSR, 1924). Given this history, it becomes paramount to retrace the formation of transnational cinemas and cinema styles. Through an examination of Ozep’s marginality and the ways in which his films have been historised, critiqued and compartmentalised, it is possible to question how “national” aesthetic movements are categorised and to suggest Ozep’s transnationality points to a relatively unexplored area of the stylistic histories of national cinemas.

Born in 1895 (he died on 20 June 1949)3, Ozep was associated with a number of key Soviet filmmakers in his early career. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he worked in both the radical art cinema traditions of Vsevolod Pudovkin and Lev Kuleshov and in the popular cinema, epitomised by the works of Yakov Protazanov and Boris Barnet. While still attending the University of Moscow, Ozep began his film career as a scriptwriter, adapting Pushkin’s “The Queen of Spades” for Protazanov’s film of the same name (Russia, 1916). Pushkin’s short story-and Protazanov’s film-in many ways epitomised the kind of narrative that Ozep would come to favour throughout his career: melodramatic adaptations of literary works. He wrote as many as twenty screenplays in the early years of Soviet cinema, and he seemed to work in virtually every genre. Along with avant-garde and popular scripts, he wrote a script for one of Wladyslaw Starewicz’s early films, Stella Maris (USSR, 1918). He also acted in some films, including a small part in Pudovkin’s Chess Fever (USSR, 1925).

The exact extent of his early work is hard to determine, both because of the lack of key historical sources and because of what can be seen as Ozep’s self-mythologisation. For instance, Durgnat notes that Ozep claimed he wrote Pudovkin’s Mat (Mother, USSR, 1926), yet as Durgnat goes on to point out, there is no further proof that this is the case-perhaps this bit of revisionist history on Ozep’s part was in response to claims that Pudovkin edited Ozep’s Zhivoi trup (The Living Corpse, USSR, 1929). (For a brief description of this and other films directed by Ozep, see the filmography at the end of this article.) Nevertheless, all available evidence indicates that the young writer was prodigious. And while writing scripts, he also worked as an assistant editor on film producer Josef Yermoliev’s newsreels.4 As early as 1914, he planned (but never completed) a book on American, European and Russian cinema aesthetics.5

In the 1920s, Ozep was part of the collective Mezhrabpom-Rus studio, which consisted of filmmakers Protazanov, Pudovkin, Barnet, Vladimir Gardin and Konstantin Eggert.6 His contributions included scripting or co-scripting films such as Alexander Sanin’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s Russian peasant tale Polikushka (1919) and the Soviet Union’s first science fiction epic, Protazanov’s Aelita (1924). These two films are interesting artefacts of popular Soviet cinema, as they revolve around melodramatic narratives (and, in the case of Aelita, comedy: at the conclusion of the narrative, the Martians stage a proletarian revolution) at a time when both at home and abroad, the radical formalism of Eisenstein, Vertov, Pudovkin and Kuleshov were at the forefront of Soviet proletarian cinema.

After a few years of screenwriting, Ozep turned his hand to directing. His Earth in Chains (USSR, 1927) was the closest he would come to the Soviet avant-garde of the 1920s. His comparatively non-didactic approach to his material meant that Earth in Chains was one of the few Soviet films to be in general release in Western Europe and North America. In the late 1920s, he directed one of the first USSR/German co-productions, The Living Corpse, starring Pudovkin.

Because of this tendency toward the popular and the melodramatic, film critics and historians both inside and outside the USSR dismissed Ozep’s early work as too popular and not radical enough in its aesthetics. In The Film Till Now, Paul Rotha’s judgement of Ozep’s Russian work is as succinct as it is dismissive:

He is not a director of any standing, his work being uneven and lacking in any dramatic quality. The Living Corpse, which was one of the few films exemplifying Soviet technique to be generally shown in Britain, was of interest principally for the playing of Pudovkin as Fedya Protasov, and for the editing, which was in the hands of the latter.7

While the actual editor of the film is in dispute, it is interesting to see Rotha intent on undermining any aspect of the film that might constitute a “successful” cinema aesthetic attributable to Ozep.

Rotha also dismissed the works of Protazanov and Barnet (with whom Ozep co-directed the popular serial Miss Mend [USSR, 1926]), demonstrating the biases of the time against the Soviet popular entertainment film. Part of this dismissal comes from what could be seen as the hybrid nature of the film’s style, in which Soviet montage techniques are combined with a melodramatic narrative. Within the USSR, Ozep’s films were also not seen as radical enough. For instance, Sergei Eisensteins only recognition of Ozep’s films in his published work is a dismissive comment about the director’s use of montage in The Living Corpse, which he claims is derivative of his own in October (1927); moreover, he argues that Ozep’s work imitates Eisenstein’s own failures:

Such a means [of montage] may decay pathologically if the essential viewpoint-emotional dynamization of the subject-is lost. As soon as the filmmaker loses sight of this essence the means ossifies into lifeless literary symbolism and stylistic mannerism. The sugary chants of compromise by the Mensheviki at the Second Congress of the Soviets-during the storming of the Winter Palace-are intercut [in October] with hands playing harps. This was a purely literary parallelism that by no means dynamized the subject matter. Similarly in Ozep’s Living Corpse, church spires (in imitation of those in October) and lyrical landscapes are intercut with the courtroom speeches of the prosecutor and the defence lawyer. The error was the same as in the “harp” sequence.8

Ozep, therefore, found himself in the unenviable position of being criticised for both his “debasement” of montage and his commercialism. Despite the changing landscape of Soviet culture and politics (where melodramatic narrative devices within Socialist realism was on the rise), Ozep was obviously on the margins of Soviet film culture.

After making The Living Corpse, Ozep immigrated to Weimar Germany and adopting “Fedor Ozep” as the “official” spelling of his name, directed Der Morder Dimitri Karamasoff (1931). The film was well received by the German press at the time. Herbert Ihering, for example, wrote that the adaptation rivalled Dovzhenko’s Earth (USSR, 1930) and Renoir’s Sous les toits de Paris (France, 1930).9 Yet, after the war, Siegfried Kracauer argued that the film was authoritarian in nature, foreshadowing the rise of Nazi cinema.10 Indeed, Kracauer sees Ozep’s Karamasoff as one of the early examples of what he calls the “national epic,” in which concerns about social formations are subordinated to themes of individual rebellion. As rebellious individuals take control of destiny, they also embody the need for an authoritarian figure. Kracauer argues that Ozep avoided Soviet montage, despite the Russian theme of the story, as the Soviet aesthetic was at odds with the themes of the film. For Kracauer, the aesthetics of a national cinema movement are intrinsically tied to a given nation-state’s politics: “It was a story which had little in common with Dostoievsky or with Soviet mentality. Ozep seemed to sense it; for he refrained from using Russian ‘montage’ methods, except, perhaps, for the magnificent troika episode which juxtaposed treetops and horse’s hoofs in fast cutting so as to increase the impression of speed.”11

This reading of the film is predicated on placing Der Morder Dimitri Karamasoff within the traditions of German Expressionist cinema, as Kracauer sees them. Others perceived a different aesthetic-and therefore political-tendency within the film. Writing the year after the film’s release, Werner Klingler notes the film’s Soviet style:

Recognising Ozep as a product of the strictly scientific Soviet film-school, we have in him a film director of highly individual mould. We are dealing here with a man of great skill who has conquered the A-B-C of montage and permeated it with his own genius and creative power. Throughout the picture, the harmony of image-values is consummated in a perfect symphony. The camera is ever the experiencing eye of the spectator, or the piercing vision of the protagonist himself. At times the complete collectivism of the filmic apparatus is under the dominant control of the spectator.12

It is the desire of both Kracauer and Klinger to pigeonhole the national characteristics of Ozep’s work that is of interest here. Neither a classic of Soviet montage nor a late German Expressionist film, Der Morder Dimitri Karamasoff stands as a hybridised film-as Tom Milne recognizes: “The fascinating thing about both The Living Corpse and The Murder of Dimitri Karamazov, however, is their unique fusion of Soviet montage and German Expressionism.”13

This view of the film has been noted by other critics, most often those who champion a transnational aesthetic. As Raymond Durgnat-who places Ozep’s work in the category of cinema maudit-writes,

The Karamazov film is a tour de force of stylistic eclecticism: expressionist acting (Kortner), dynamic angles, Russian editing, marathon tracking shots. It’s a real showpiece of formalism geared to psycholyrical ends, exactly as Eisenstein intended, except that Dostoievskian soul-torments replace Leninist collectivism to which the “official” montage-masters tuned their lyres.14

Milne develops this further when he writes that The Living Corpse is not only important as a hybridised German-Soviet film, but also because of what it foreshadows in terms of film style: “The importance of The Living Corpse…is that it is a source-book not only for the later Lang and the poetic dilutions of Carne and Prevert, but for Bresson.”15 Milne treats Ozep as a precursor of some of the most influential pre-nouvelle vague French cineastes, and in doing so, claims an important place for Ozep in film history. But by drawing him into a “tradition,” he minimises the most radical or transgressive and historically interesting aspect of Ozep’s work: its incompatibility with any stable and discrete historical tradition in one national cinema or film aesthetic. Yet, by foregrounding Ozep’s influence on the masters of French cinema, he points to the fact that the aesthetics of national cinema movements are often greatly influenced by the presence of transnational cinemas circulating within a nation’s public sphere.

With the rise of Nazism, Ozep moved to France at the height of French Impressionist cinema, and directed, among other films, La Dame de Pique (1937) and Gibraltar (1938), the latter starring Erich von Stroheim. In his French films, Ozep returns to the melodramatic themes that dominated his Russian and Soviet period, and that marginalised him after the revolution. While in France, Ozep was also asked to direct a British film entitled A Woman Alone (UK, 1936), although another expatriate, Eugene Frenke, subsequently replaced him as director. Ozep’s presence in France points to another moment in the development of transnational cinema aesthetics. As Colin Crisp notes, “Chronologically, the first nation…to affect French filmmaking practices was Russia; the influence of Russian immigrants was enormous in the twenties and had lasting effects in a number of areas of production.”16

While Ozep arrived a decade later, two of his films nevertheless demonstrate this influence: Mirages de Paris (1932) and Amok (1934). The former brings the formal elements of German Expressionism and Soviet montage to the “city film.” While there are both Soviet and German “city films” that precede Mirages de Paris-most notably Dziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (USSR, 1928) and Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin Symphony of a Great City (Germany, 1927)-Ozep produced one of the first films within the “city film” tradition that combined a variety of aesthetic strategies from different national cinema movements. Ozep’s subsequent decision to adapt Stefan Zweig’s novella Amok is also an interesting choice, not only for its subject matter, which addresses the tensions inherent in the experience of exile, but also because Zweig’s displaced status as emigre parallels Ozep’s to a large degree.

At the beginning of World War II, Ozep was interned in France as a displaced person, then freed upon the fall of France. Like many displaced cineastes who relocated from one country to another during the war, Ozep eventually made his way to Hollywood, where he hoped to direct an English-language version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace-a project that never materialised. Before arriving in North America, however, Ozep co-directed (with Jose Maria Tellez) a melodrama, Cero en Conducta (Spain, 1945), which appeared only after he had begun to make films in North America, and which has left even less of an historical trace than his previous work. From Spain, Ozep moved to Hollywood and directed B-pictures, such as the pro-Russian film Three Russian Girls (1944, co-directed with Henry Kesler) for United Artists.

The final phase of Ozep’s career has been documented to the greatest degree. By the 1940s, the demand for francophone films in Quebec was so strong that it seemed feasible for two production companies to open.17 The first was Renaissance Films, founded in 1944 by J.A. DeSeve and Charles Philipp. In order to give Renaissance Films “prestige,” DeSeve and Philipp imported Ozep to direct their first production, Le Pere Chopin (1944). Renaissance Films aimed not only for prestige, but also to appease the Duplessis government of Quebec and the province’s Roman Catholic Church, in order to secure distribution. Indeed, to raise money for Renaissance Films, DeSeve and Phillip claimed that the positive propagandistic effect of the cinema was one of their main reasons for producing films. DeSeve and Phillipp argued that an “engaged cinema” was needed to combat the evils of the world, and the main evils of the time, according to the producers, were atheism and Communism. DeSeve and Phillip envisioned a renaissance of French Catholic films with Quebec as a leading producer.

The second company to emerge was Quebec Productions Corporation, founded in 1946 by Paul L’Anglais and Rene Germain. Quebec Productions was more secular in its outlook and hoped to make films that could compete in the American as well as French markets. With that objective in mind, L’Anglais and Germain hired Ozep to shoot the same film simultaneously in English and French. The result was La Forteresse and Whispering City, both released in 1947.

The two francophone films made by Ozep in Quebec are often dismissed as inferior products that do not tell authentically “local” narratives; to this extent, Ozep’s work could be put in the same category as Michael Powell’s 49th Parallel (UK, 1941) or Alfred Hitchcock’s I Confess (USA, 1952). Nevertheless, as Pierre Veronneau points out, while Le Pere Chopin and La Forteresse can be derided for their folkloric qualities, their elision of Quebecois French for the French of France, and their American and European pretensions, the two films still must be compared favourably to many of the dubbed and/or European French-language products seen on the screens of Quebec in the 1940s.18

While La Forteresse has been written about, at least in Quebec, little attention has been paid to Whispering City, which is often looked upon solely as an English-language version of La Forteresse. Yet, despite the fact that the camera set-ups for the two films are virtually identical, Whispering City works far better as a film noir than La Forteresse does as part of what Heinz Weinmann calls the Quebecois roman familial cycle.19 Indeed, Whispering City, along with the all-but-forgotten, Montreal-based, English language Selkirk Productions’ film Forbidden Journey (1949, Richard J. Jarvis) can be easily seen as the only two Canadian films produced in the 1940s that combine a noir visual aesthetic with a crime story. Of note, as well, is the fact that Ozep’s career ended with a noir film, the genre that, above all others, exemplifies the hybridisation of European cinematic styles in a recognisably American form.

The story of Fedor Ozep not only offers a compelling account of the mobility that lies behind the construction of national cinemas and aesthetic movements, but also provides insight into the shifting ground upon which film history is based. Commenting on the German emigre experience and the foundation of American film noir, Thomas Elsaesser observes,

In order to understand the presumed German ancestry of film noir, attention shifts to the German cinema in its transnational as well as international dimension, which involves a more differential account of “film exile” than one usually finds in film histories. A linear history of “influence” would have to be combined with a lateral history of “interference”…. Rather than subsume all directors, stars and movie personnel under the category of “emigre,” we would have to study, in each and every case, the precise reasons and circumstances that brought a German director to the United States.20

What is most compelling about Elsaesser’s argument, in the present context, are the ways dialogism plays a key role in the development of cinema aesthetics, transnational or otherwise. In the case of Ozep’s aesthetics, his pre- and post-revolutionary Russian and Soviet cinema cannot be totally separated from the work of his German and French periods. This fore- grounds the fact that transnational cinema aesthetics, both in Europe and the United States, are more often that not the rule rather than the exception. This being the case, reconsidering the works of Fedor Ozep is not simply a matter of rediscovering a director whose work has fallen through the cracks of cinematic history; it also allows one to re-conceptualise how the history of cinema aesthetics and stylistic influences between national cinema movements might be understood.

NOTES

This essay began as a (long) footnote in my doctoral thesis, “A Screen of One’s Own: Quebec Cinema, National Identity, and the Alternative Public Sphere” (McGill University, 1997). My thanks to the many people who helped me track down Ozep’s films or lent me video copies of his work, including Thomas Elsaesser, Christopher Faulkner, Tony Pearson, Will Straw, Ginette Vincendeau, and Haidee Wasson.

1. Raymond Durgnat, “Fedor Ozep,” Film Dope 49 (1993): 43.

2. Tim Bergfelder, “The Nation Vanishes: European Co-Productions and Popular Genre Formula in the 1950s and 1960s,” in Cinema and Nation, Mette Hjort and Scott MacKenzie, eds. (London: Routledge, 2000), 139. For more on the aesthetic, cultural and stylistic interchanges between European and American cinema during the period in question, see Andrew Higson and Richard Maltby, eds., “Film Europe” and “Film America”: Cinema, Commerce and Cultural Exchange, 1920-J939 (Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 1999).

3. There is some disagreement about where Ozep actually died. According to Richard Taylor’s entry on Ozep in Endydopcedia of European Cinema, Ginette Vincendeau, ed. (London: BFI, 1995), Ozep died in Ottawa. Yet all other reliable accounts list his place of death as Hollywood, including the account of his friend and colleague Georges Freeland, which was written in response to David Godin’s essay “Fedor Ozep: A Brief Biography,” Griffithiana 35/36 (1989): 66-74. See Freeland, “Letter,” Griffithiana 38/39 (1990): 282-287.

4. Jay Leyda, Kino: A History of Russian and Soviet Film (London: George Allen, 1960), 88.

5. Yuri Tsivian, “Early Russian Cinema: Some Observations,” in Inside the Film Factory: New Approaches to Russian and Soviet Cinema, Richard Taylor and Ian Christie, eds. (London: Routledge, 1991), 13.

6. Leon Moussinac, Le cinema Sovietique (Paris: Gallimard, 1928), 112-113.

7. Paul Rotha, The Film Till Now, revised and enlarged (London: Vision Press, 1959), 247-248.

8. Sergei Eisenstein, Film Form: Essays in Film Theory (New York: Harcourt, 1949), 58.

9. Herbert Ihering, review of Der Morder Dimitri Karamasoff, Berliner Borsenkurier 8 December 1931, cited in [anon.], “Fedor Ozep-Regisseur, Author,” in CineGraph: Lexicon zum deutschprachigen Film (Munich: edition text&kritik, 1977).

10. Perhaps part of the reason that Kracauer viewed Karamasoff as foreshadowing the rise of Nazism is that excerpts from Ozep’s film-along with scenes from Fritz Lang’s M (Germany, 1931)-were used in Fritz Hippler’s anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda film Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew, Germany, 1940). Nevertheless, one cannot hold Ozep accountable for this appropriation of his work.

11. Siegfried Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947), 252.

12. Werner Klingler, “Ozep’s Film The Murderer Karamazov,” Experimental Film 4 (1932): 30.

13. Tom Milne, “The Living Corpse,” Monthly Film Bulletin 43.504 (1976): 16.

14. Durgnat, 44.

15. Milne, 16.

16. Colin Crisp, The French Classical Cinema, 1930-1960 (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press and I.B. Tauris, 1993), 167.

17. For the history of Renaissance Films and Quebec Productions Corporation (interestingly, both companies used English names), see Pierre Veronneau, Le succes est au film parlant francais: histoire du cinema au Quebec I, Les dossiers de la Cinematheque no. 3 (Montreal: Cinematheque quebecoise/Musee du cinema, 1979) and Cinema de l’epoque duplessiste: histoire du cinema au Quebec II, Les dossiers de la Cinematheque no. 7 (Montreal: Cinematheque quebecoise/Musee du cinema, 1979).

18. Pierre Veronneau, “Fedor Ozep,” in Le dictionnaire du cinema quebecois, 3rd ed., Michel Coulombe and Marcel Jean, eds. (Montreal: Boreal, 1999), 496-497.

19. See Heinz Weinmann, Cinema de l’imaginaire quebecois: De La petite Aurore a Jesus de Montreal (Montreal: l’Hexagone, 1990).

20. Thomas Elsaesser, “A German Ancestry to Film Noir?-Film History and Its Imaginary,” Iris 21 (1996): 136.

FILMOGRAPHY

Miss Mend (USSR, 1926, co-dir. Boris Barnet). In this serial, Soviet reporters and a secretary attempt to thwart an attempt by Western capitalists to attack the USSR with biological weapons.

Zluta Knizka (aka The Yellow Pass aka Earth in Chains, USSR, 1927). An innocent young peasant girl becomes a prostitute after moving to the city.

Zhivoi trup (aka A Living Corpse, Germany/USSR, 1929). Fedya knows his wife Lisa is in love with someone else. The couple seek a divorce. When it is not granted Feyda tries to drown himself. Lisa marries her lover and is charged with bigamy.

Der Morder Dimitri Karamasoff (aka The Murderer Dimitri Karamazov, Germany, 1931). In a loose adaptation of Dostoyevsk’s The Brothers Karamazov, Dimitri falls in love with a prostitute who was also involved with his father. When the father is killed Dimitri is charged with patricide.

Mirages de Paris (aka Grossstadnacht, France, 1932). In the tradition of the “city film,” this experimental work explores the city of Paris.

Amok (France, 1934). A doctor living in the jungle is sought out by a desperate woman seeking an abortion (adapted from a novella by Stefan Zweig).

A Woman Alone (aka Two Who Dared, UK, 1936, completed by Eugene Frenke). A maid falls in love with her employer, an army officer, leading to dire consequences arising out of class conflict.

La Dame de Pique (aka Queen of Spades, France, 1937). An army officer falls victim to his obsession with gambling (adapted from a story by Alexander Pushkin).

Tarkaranova (aka Betrayal, France, 1938). Catherine the Great plots against both her former lover and a claimant to her throne, who have fallen in love with each other.

Gibraltar (aka It Happened in Gibraltar, France, 1939). A British soldier posing as a traitor catches out a Nazi spy.

Le Pere Chopin (aka L’onde du Canada, Quebec, 1944). Two brothers, one from the country, the other the city, try to come to terms which each other’s way of life.

Three Russian Girls (aka She Who Dares, US, 1944, co-dir. Henry Kesler). In this pro-Russian film set during World War II, a Russian nurse falls in love with an American airman whose plane has been shot down.

Cero en conducta (aka Madalena, Spain, 1945, co-dir. Jose Maria Tellez). Based on a play by Laszlo Kadar (also the source of Vitorio De Sica’s Maddalena, Zero in Condotta [Italy, 1940]), this comedy of errors concerns a girl who writes fantastical letters in the name of an imaginary person she invents. But it turns out that a real person exists with the same name.

La Forteresse (Quebec, 1947) and Whispering City (aka Crime City, Quebec, 1947). A female reporter explores the death of a famous actress, and is slowly drawn into a larger murderous plot.

SCOTT MACKENZIE is Lecturer in Film Studies and Chair of Graduate Studies for the School of English and American Studies, University of East Anglia. He is author of Screening Quebec: Quebecois Cinema, National Identity and the Public Sphere and co-editor of Cinema and Nation and Purity and Provocation: Dogme 95.

Copyright Film Studies Association of Canada Spring 2003

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