Communicating conventions of (in)visibility in contemporary Spain
Maria van Liew
Fertile ground for explorations of recent shifts in national identification, integration and exclusion, Spanish immigration films help to distinguish the European Union as a hotbed of transnational cultural and political activity, while exhibiting distinctive national and regional social and aesthetic parameters. The tendency of Spanish immigration films is to represent variance on both sides of the immigrant/host divide, demonstrating that immigrant characters are equally capable of 'Othering' those with whom interaction produces a space of reciprocity, thereby offering 'new' aesthetic possibilities. Films about recent migrations exhibit hybrid qualities that merge the dramatic techniques of social realism, romance, thriller, road trip/odyssey, bittersweet comedy with 'new' social developments. The male protagonism of the earliest immigration films, spearheaded by Montxo Armendariz's Las cartas de Alou coincides with Spain's acceptance into the Common European Market, increasing press coverage of immigration issues, and changing laws to accommodate what for Spain is a newer phenomenon.