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Beur and banlieue filmmaking in France
Author: Carrie Tarr

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.

Carrie Tarr

The years 1994 and 1995 saw the first feature films of three new French filmmakers of Maghrebi descent, 2 Malik Chibane (born in France in 1964), Karim Dridi (born in 1961 in Tunis) and Ahmed Bouchaala (born in 1956 in Algeria). 3 However, their individual voices have been obscured by critical discourses which either situate their filmmaking under the newly coined umbrella term cinéma de banlieue or associate it with Maghrebi, particularly Algerian

in Reframing difference
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Carrie Tarr

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

in Reframing difference
Les Histoires d’amour finissent mal en général and Souviens-toi de moi
Carrie Tarr

If dominant French cinema has tended to maintain the hegemony of a white, patriarchal, eurocentric understanding of Frenchness, voices from the periphery, particularly those of filmmakers of Maghrebi descent, have turned French cinema into a site of struggle for constructions of French national identity based on the realities of France as a multicultural, multi-ethnic society. One of the most original voices to intervene in this arena was

in Reframing difference
Abstract only
Carrie Tarr

two related phenomena in the history of French cinema, cinéma beur and cinéma de banlieue . The term cinéma beur was first coined in a special issue of Cinématographe in July 1985 to describe a set of independently released films by and about the beurs , that is, second-generation immigrants of Maghrebi descent, one of the most prominent being Mehdi Charef’s Le Thé au harem d’Archimède ( 1985 ). Cinéma de banlieue emerged within French film

in Reframing difference
Marie-Line and Chaos
Carrie Tarr

eponymous Marie-Line is in charge of a team of cleaners in a hypermarket, only two of whom have proper jobs, the rest being an assortment of sans-papiers whom she treats with a mix of aggression and indifference; Hélène in Chaos is a privileged if alienated bourgeois wife and mother who, with her husband Paul, witnesses from the safety of her car the brutal beating up of Noémie/ Malika, a prostitute of Maghrebi descent. In each case the film is initially

in Reframing difference
From Le Raïd to Jeunesse dorée
Carrie Tarr

incorporated into mainstream comedy either by way of the black-blanc-beur banlieue mix or as isolated individuals. Yet comedy is also a genre which has allowed comedians of Maghrebi descent to flourish. Stand-up comedians such as Smaïn and Jamel (Debbouze) are more familiar to audiences than actors with a more serious repertoire such as Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila or Zinedine Soualem. Indeed, for a long time Smaïn was the only beur actor with a substantial reputation

in Reframing difference
From L’Honneur de ma famille to Drôle de Félix
Carrie Tarr

famille ends on a fantasy of escape testifies to the ongoing difficulty of representing young people of Maghrebi descent as happily settled in France. Nevertheless, the choice of young female protagonists combined with the setting in the North enables Bouchareb to avoid the violence of the male-oriented banlieue films and represent a more fluid vision of a multicultural France. La Vie de Jésus/The Life of Jesus (1997) and Karnaval (1999

in Reframing difference
Samia and La Squale
Carrie Tarr

minority women in the city as the subjects and agents of history and change. In Malik Chibane’s Hexagone (1994) and Douce France (1995), young women of Maghrebi descent occupy public spaces without being reduced to stereotypical roles. And young beur women are the principal protagonists of Anne Fontaine’s Les Histoires d’amour finissent mal en général (1993), Zaïda Ghorab-Volta’s Souviens-toi de moi (1996) and Rachid Bouchareb’s L’Honneur de ma famille

in Reframing difference
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Véronique Machelidon and Patrick Saveau

-reflective, and inquisitive practice that refuses to limit itself to standardized narratives and genres. Furthermore, films by directors of Maghrebi descent examined in this volume steer away from the leitmotifs of integration (Durmelat and Swamy, 2011) and split identity, which characterized the production of the 1980s and 1990s, to emphasize a sociological and cultural reality which is less easily appropriated by hegemonic discourse 4 Reimagining North African immigration and goes largely unrecognized by the dominant media. Thus, their film work transcends the geography of

in Reimagining North African Immigration