Debates about (and resistances to) France's changing identity as a plural, multi-ethnic society are thus at the forefront of public preoccupations. This book aims to assess the ways in which filmmaking in France might contribute to such debates by foregrounding the voices and subjectivities of ethnic others and thereby reframing the way in which difference is conceptualized. The core focus is the appearance and after-effects of two related phenomena in the history of French cinema, cinéma beur and cinéma de banlieue. The book traces the history of beur filmmaking practices from the margins to the mainstream, from low-budget autobiographically inspired features to commercial filmmaking, and assesses their effectiveness in addressing questions of identity and difference. It attempts to gauge the significance of place in the construction of identity through an analysis of films set in the multi-ethnic banlieue. The book also assesses the extent to which the inscription of displacement and identity in films by emigre Algerian filmmakers overlaps with or differentiates itself from that found in beur cinema. For filmmakers of Maghrebi descent, filmmaking is more than just a question of representation, it is also a way of negotiating their own position within French society. Bensalah's Le Raïd demonstrates how the themes of beur filmmaking can be recuperated by beur filmmakers as well as by white filmmakers. Ameur-Zaifmeche's difficulties in making Wesh wesh illustrate how beur filmmaking may still take place in the interstices of the French film industry.
The beur and banlieue films discussed in previous chapters have been the work of either beur or white French filmmakers. However, the book would not be complete without a consideration of how difference has been reframed by Algerian filmmakers working in France. 2 The transnational status of such filmmakers makes their work particularly difficult to categorise. The 2003 film season ‘Hommage aux cinéastes algériens’, held at the
Algeria but has been screened at festivals in France. Yet a film critical of the status quo and despairing for the future of Algerian youth, Teguia’s Rome plutôt que vous (2006), was exclusively screened at the Algiers Cinémathèque before it was distributed in France. In a review of the film (an Algerian-French-German co-production), the newspaper El Watan described Teguia, Mokneche and others as a new generation of Algerian
France’s white citizens are increasingly normalised. The argument of this book is that the reframing of difference is particularly significant in the work of filmmakers of Maghrebi descent, because their relationship to Frenchness is different from that of both majority white and emigre Algerian filmmakers (whose position as outsiders is arguably less pressured). For filmmakers of Maghrebi descent, filmmaking is more than just a question of
of Immigration’ as a lieu de memoire which would enable the French to recognise their past and move on (Kédadouche 2002 : 24). 4 This was also the topic of Les Sacrifiés (1983) by Algerian filmmaker Okacha Touita. 5 Krim (born in Alès in 1956) has a background in the fine arts, and made a first highly acclaimed short film, El Fatha
, ‘the chief interest of beur films is that by giving substance to a new component of French society and renewing the image of the immigrant in the French cinema they have galvanised the jaded imaginations of those responsible for mainstream productions’ (Bosséno 1992 : 51), a comment which suggests a lack of concern for the meanings of these films for the beurs themselves. Although the corpus may differ if Algerian filmmakers are included (for example
Williams, Space and being in contemporary French cinema.indd 188 11/01/2013 15:18:41 Re-siting the Republic – Abdellatif Kechiche 189 Algerian filmmaker Abdelkrim Bahloul.) It is not just that Kechiche works concretely from within highly contested national locations (the inner city, the cité, a provincial town of large immigration). He also takes us into a range of clearly demarcated public sub-spaces: a hostel for homeless people, a small park stage, a floating restaurant boat. Kechiche’s actors inhabit these spaces intensively and organically, filling the camera
why no Algerians were interviewed, a lack for which the film was criticized. Tavernier relates that Algerian filmmaker Ahmed Rachedi approached him and Rotman about collaborating on a similar film depicting the Algerian side. The offer was tempting but too daunting. The Algerians would have to make their own film. Whether or not the filmmakers succeeded in all instances in following the rules they set down for themselves, these guidelines add up to a coherent philosophy that is, once again, both an esthetics and an ethics. The