Not Hollywood: Independent Film at the Twilight of the American Dream

Duke Univ. 2013. 352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780822354109. $39.95. pap. ISBN 9780822354260. $24.95. FILM
Ortner (anthropology, Univ. of California, Los Angeles; Anthropology and Social Theory: Culture, Power, and the Acting Subject) examines the complex relationship among the independent film scene, mainstream Hollywood, and contemporary American society. The book is also a study of patterns that can be seen in a selection of independent films, from the dearth of happy endings to the relative abundance of morally ambiguous leading characters. While this eclectic technique of combining interviews and plot points occasionally leads Ortner to stray into territory more familiar to (and arguably better served by) film studies, it also supports her thesis that independent film has played a key role in shaping and critiquing social reality and cultural capital since the late 1980s.
VERDICT An original interpretation of film and public culture that addresses the nexus of anthropology and film studies. Best suited for anthropologists interested in contemporary visual culture and film professionals looking for perspective outside the film industry.
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