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I didn't know, so I had to look it up:

au·teur·ism. noun. The definition of auteurism is the belief that a movie should primarily reveal the director's feelings and beliefs as if he has written it himself. The theory that the director's vision should be clearly seen in a movie is an example of auterism.

Which makes little sense without a reference to the opposite, which was common practice at the time (and even today):

the movie as a commercial product, built to spec, and designed by committee to appeal to the largest market...

So, the auteur is the "director as artist" as opposed to the "director as hired executor of the studio's will".

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