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A Thousand Screenplays

The French Imagination in a Time of Crisis

In 1991, French public television held an amateur screenwriting contest. When Sabine Chalvon-Demersay, a French sociologist, examined the roughly 1,000 entries, she had hoped to analyze their differences. What she found, however, surprised her. Although the entrants covered nearly every social demographic, their screenplays presented similar characters in similar situations confronting similar problems.

The time of crisis presented by the amateur writers was not one of war, famine, or disease—it was the millennial dilemma of representation. In a world plagued by alienation, individualization, and a lack of mobility, how can members of a society combat their declining senses of self?

Although the contestants wrote about life in France, their concerns and struggles have a distinctly universal ring. A lucid, witty writer, Chalvon-Demersay offers a clear, if still developing, photograph of the contemporary imagination.

208 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1999

Culture Studies

Film Studies

Media Studies

Sociology: General Sociology

Table of Contents

1. Overview of the Synopses
Historical Contexts
The Geographical Framework
The Sociological Framework
A Spiraling Crisis
2. Social Bonds
The Powerlessness of Institutions
The Hunger of Developers
The Betrayal of Experts
The Failure of Integrating Values
The Yearning for Interpersonal Values
The Promotion of Aesthetic Values
The Media
3. Intimacies
The Decomposed Family
The Blending of Generations
Men and Women
The Rhetoric of Feelings
Transitory Networks
Improbable Friendships
4. Solitudes
The Fragmented Subject
The Spiral of Powerlessness
The Spiral of Pessimism
Appendix 1: Scenario of a Research Project
Appendix 2: The Authors
Appendix 3: Plot Summaries of the Twelve Selected Projects
Titles and Authors of the Synopses Cited

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