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When the Director becomes Author : the French New Wave



… Film lovers are sick people …
– François Truffaut

When the Director becomes Author : the French New Wave

“My films, you say, are literary : The things I say could be said in a novel. Yes, but what do I say ? After all, I do not say, I show. I show people who move and speak. That is all I know how to do, but that is my true subject. The rest, I agree, is literature.”
– Eric Rohmer

In the closing credits of modern cinema, it is a ritual to see “Written and Directed by”. Rarely do we remember that, behind this simple expression lie some critics from the early 1950’s in France and their unavoidable imprint on the history of cinema : Truffaut, Godard, Resnais, Rohmer, Rivette are only few to name. Equipped with no money but full of zeal, these minds defined Cinema in terms of screenplay, editing, and narrative. So heavy was their influence that filmmakers from various traditions across the world, ever since, could only stand up and take notice of these young folks who redefined what it means to make a film.

They coined the term Auteur, referring to the director becoming the full-fledged author of the film. Their understanding was that a film must be similar to a book or novel, and should therefore count only one author. As critics, first, they offered a unique principle : the screenwriter and the director must be the same person, with full control over his creation, just like a novel writer would. No more interferences and visions lost in translation between screenwriter and director ; and a complete artistic independence from the studios as well. They were ridiculed at first, and thought that leading French cinema by the example would be the best demonstration.

This course offers an introduction, and more, to the French New Wave cinema of the 1950’s onwards. The sessions explore specific films, their background, their shoot and aesthetics. Comprehending the visual style unique to each auteur, we discover the meanings and values behind their cinema. We shall learn how screenplays were written back then, and how the problems of depicting action in movie-making were solved by these auteurs. Technical details like edit cuts/jump cuts, camera stylo, camera movements, as well as themes and aesthetic choices, will be at the heart of our participative discussions.

The final objective of the course is to inspire participants to pick up the camera, and start shooting short movies. Your turn now : become an auteur !

How this course works

The participants and the instructor meet on the decided weekly timing via a group Skype, for a session of film analysis based on the movie of that week. The students are expected to attend the session after having watched the movie on their own. Links will be share with them to screen the films beforehand. Participative responses are encouraged through the session, in the phases of textual analysis proper and during the open debates and discussions.

In the course of the second month of this course, the exploration of the French New Wave movies is complemented with an optional Questions & Answers session with the instructor. The session is based on the questions of the participants.

Finally, towards the concluding session of the course, participants will be asked to write a short essay based on their understanding of the New Wave and all the effects these films left on them. These essays will be considered for publication on the IST Blogs space. Group exchanges and feedbacks on these original essays will be done during the last session.

Term Course

Duration : 8 weekly sessions of 90 minutes each
Dates and Times : decided with the participants
Modality : Skype Videoconference
Open to : All · No pre-requisites

At IST, a new edition of each course is organised upon 3 confirmed participants


400 Blows

François Truffaut

Hiroshima My Love

Alain Resnais


Jean-Luc Gorard

A Man and A Woman

Claude Lelouch

The Collector

Eric Rohmer

My Night at Maud’s

Eric Rohmer

A Summer's Tale

Eric Rohmer

The Beautiful Troublemaker

Jacques Rivette

My Life to Live

Jean-Luc Godard


The New Wave

James Monaco

French New Wave

Chris Wiegand

The French New Wave : An Artistic School

Michel Marie & Richard Neupert


The session dates for the next edition of this course will be set
based on the common availability of the registrants.

Session 1

The meaning of Auteur

What brought the change ?

From critics to art makers

Influences on modern cinema

Session 2

Inspirations of the Auteur

Themes of youth

Semi-autobiographical art

Film under study : François Truffaut, 400 Blows (1959) (details)

Session 3

Changes in narrative

Non-linearity in film-making

What does the story want to say ?

Film under study : Alain Resnais, Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) (details)

Session 4

Introduction to jump shots

Re-invention of editing under budget

The audience fills in the lines

Film under study : Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless (1960) (details)

Session 5

Transition to color – New Wave style

Evolution of themes

Film under study : Claude Lelouch, A Man and A Woman (1960) (details)

Session 6

Threading the story

Role of improvisation in film-making

Books, philosophy, films, and politics

Session 7

Joining the French New Wave – Eric Rohmer

Films under study :

Eric Rohmer, La Collectionneuse (1967) (details)
Eric Rohmer, My Night at Maud’s (1969) (details)
Eric Rohmer, A Summer’s Tale (1996) (details)

Session 8

Exploring new dimensions of narrative :

Jacques Rivette, La Belle Noiseuse (1991) (details)
Jean-Luc Godard, Vivre Sa Vie (1962) (details)

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers session.

Open discussions based on questions from the participants.

Essay Discussion

Participant’s Essay Discussion


Akshansh Singh

Akshansh Singh


Experience with the Texts of this Course : 4 years +

As an aspiring filmmaker, no genre has had a deeper impact on me than Drama. The French have been the masters in bringing Drama to screen – settings so humble, so constrained, yet complex emotions run throughout. Discovering the French New Wave proved to be a new wave in my own understanding of cinema. I believe that any good story can be summarised in one single sentence. How can emotions be brought out from that sentence ? I learnt this from the masters of the French New Wave.

Akshansh Singh is a Dubai based writer, and short-film maker.
Discover his courses here.



The financial contribution is open
beyond a minimum amount of

59.00 $

or the equivalent in your local currency
Check the conversion rates here

8 Sessions of Film Analysis
9 Films Studied
1 Questions and Answers session
Reading Material in soft copy
Instructor’s Notes for each session
HD Audio Recordings of the sessions


A new edition of this course will be organised
upon 3 confirmed registrations