The French ‘New Wave’ is as generic a term to define a style and a movement similar to the use of ‘Grunge’ to define Seattle music. However, the comparisons are striking.
In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s a group of French filmmakers Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer, and Alain Resnais, who began as critics on Cahiers du Cinema formally rejected tradition. They shot on-location. Their films were about social issues.
They also experimented with the craft and form of filmmaking. Examples include the cinema cinema verite style. They used jump cuts, hand held cameras, non-linear storytelling, and loose to improvised direction.
Their style would directly influence the next generation of Hollywood directors in the New Hollywood phase or American New Wave - very specifically in Bonnie and Clyde - staring Warren Beatty and directed by Arthur Penn.
Exceptional examples include: Chabrol's Le Beau Serge (1958) (aka Bitter Reunion),
Truffaut's feature film debut The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) (1959),
Godard's Breathless (A Bout de Souffle) (1959),
Marcel Camus' Black Orpheus (1959),
Chabrol's Les Cousins (1959),
Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)
The French New Wave changed cinema around the world, and their influence can still be felt today.
PS - We really like the band that covers New Wave music of the 80's too!