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The figure of the auteur continues to haunt the study of film, resisting both the poststructuralist charges that pointed to its absence and the histories of production that have described its pitfalls. In an era defined by the instability of identities and the recycling of works, Performing Authorship offers a refreshingly new take on the cinematic auteur, proposing that the challenges that once accelerated this figure's critical demise should instead pump new life into it.
This book is about the drama of creative processes in essay, documentary and fiction films, with particular emphasis on the effects that the filmmaker's body exerts on our sense of an authorial presence. It is an illuminating analysis of films by Jean-Luc Godard, Woody Allen, Agnès Varda, Orson Welles, Jean Rouch, Eduardo Coutinho and Sarah Turner that shows directors shifting between opposite movements towards exposure and masking, oscillating between the assertion and divestiture of their authorial control. In the process, Cecilia Sayad argues, the film author is not necessarily at the work's origin, nor does it constitute the end product. What this new concept of performing authorship describes is the making and unmaking of a subject.