For many the term “Art Film” can be quite daunting. I say this because I in particular became quite thrown by the term many years ago. Without thorough research, the object of the unknown can become quite despicable. The term to a newcomer of the industry, or parts of society that have little knowledge of niche productions,  may probably see the term as an almost hipster counterpart,  to their Hollywood blockbuster associates.

It can feel like a table full intellectuals,  that forbid you to sit next to them during your lunch break. One mention of the new Jennifer Aniston film, and you’re laughed out the building.

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For those who lack a little confidence It can be intimidating, so I’ll sit here and break the mold if you like.
Art film, a term used for a niche area of film that is made for a more localized audience rather than for mass appeal. Art film focuses on the symbolism of a story rather than arrangement of plot. It offers so many levels of visionary, beauty and depth, a truly remarkable area of production. This niche market is recognized by critics as having more formal qualities,  that differ from mainstream productions. It is for those who are open to interpretation, rather than an organised plot.


In my early years of film study the term art film always felt slightly intimidating, like I was missing some massive point to all of it. It was interesting to discover that some of my most beloved films were in fact considered a part of this niche. Art film, upon hearing for the first time can mean anything. Moving image in itself is an art form, but what makes a film an art film?


Art film is exquisite and beautifully arranged. Most art films leave you with a feeling of dream like haze, whereas some however are simply confusing, with no real plot at all, but that’s the beauty of art isn’t it? It’s all down to the interpretation of the audience.

Some may leave the viewing feeling slightly underwhelmed, whereas others may be connecting the dots of certain scenes through symbolism. The real beauty of it is, that our interpretation of the film may never be correct, but it’s the fact that we feel we the need to interpret that makes the production so full of depth, and discovery.


Personally I believe art film has been subjected by the public as having a very serious reputation, which depending on one’s mood can be slightly off-putting. No one likes to feel inferior to their component, and I believe there’s an element within art film that holds that,  to those who know of it and those who are unaware of it. God for bid you’re not familiar with it within the film industry. Que my sorry ass being laughed out of the building again.


Film trivia coming at you, Joan of Arch ( 1928) directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer was considered the very first art film of our time and according to The Guardian is the 22nd best art house film of all time. The film is stunning, and used the original transcripts of the court proceedings. The film feels raw and Maria Falconetti’s acting demonstrates a real anguish,  just by her expression alone that can simply move you tears.

Art film leaps from the boundaries of many genres, and has been contentiously popular since its arrival on the film scene. The many examples of this niche area are countless. Here follows some of my absolute favorites.


Requiem For a Dream (2000)

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A Clockwork Orange (1971)

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The Tree Of Life (2011)

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Dogville (2003)

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Citizen Kane (1941)

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Black Swan (2001)

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Pan Labyrinth (2006)

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Donnie Darko (2001)

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Blue Velvet (1986)

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A fantastic form of production, that is arguably a genre in itself. In your area you may even discover that the local cinema is one of the many independently owned art houses that showcase such visual delights. Supporting these great art houses are what keep these beautiful films alive, without them film would find in some ways a lack of expression. Film is of course a visual art, and that aspect needs to be celebrated more, rather than producing a story with the only ambition being that of commercial, and capital gain. Discover more from art film I urge you.


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