Together with islamologist Michael Cook, the French academic and film scholar Jacques Aumont was awarded the prestigious Swiss-Italian Balzan Prize. This important prize usually goes to scientists. On the website of the International Balzan Prize Foundation it is stated that Aumont received the price “[f]or his role as the founder of ‘film studies’ as an academic discipline. For his contribution to the definition of the concept of film aesthetics and of film as a figurative art. For his contribution to the interpretation of the language of film and its history.”
Jacques Aumont, together with Michel Marie, Marc Vernet and Roger Odin, belonged to a team of teachers and researchers who laid the foundation of film sciences at Paris-III. Their pioneering film studies programme at the Sorbonne Nouvelle was a source of inspiration for British universities, the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands and universities in Flanders, among others.
In the turbulent sixties Aumont was an editor of Cahiers du Cinéma for a while. He translated Eisenstein’s collected notebooks and published over two dozen studies on film. He knew and knows how to link academic solidity to surprisingly elegant, direct prose that is sharp and witty, and not without humour. He was also closely involved with the Cinémathèque Française, organizing meetings and lecture series.
More generally, the prize is a recognition for those who have worked in film studies in the academic world and beyond.
Sabzian has published two texts by Jacques Aumont: ‘Idiocies. A Poetics of the Real’, an English translation of his essay on Hong Sang-soo, and Notes sur le sujet, a short text on Mon cher sujet (Anne-Marie Miéville, 1988), both the original French version and a new English translation.