In 1991, French public television held an amateur screenwriting contest. When Sabine Chalvon-Demersay, a French sociologist, examined the roughly 1000 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. Chalvon-Demersay offers a clear, if still developing, photograph of the contemporary imagination.
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