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Beur and banlieue filmmaking in France

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.

From the silent era to the 1990s

Long before the emergence in the 1990s of a ‘cinéma de banlieue’ on the heels of Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine (1995), French filmmakers looked beyond the gates of the French capital for inspiration and content. In the Paris suburbs, they found a vast reservoir of architectural forms, landscapes and contemporary social types in which to anchor their fictions. From the villas and vacant lots of silent serials of the 1910s and the bucolic riverside guinguettes of 1930s poetic realism, to the housing estates and motorways of the second post-war, the suburban landscape came to form a privileged site in the French cinematographic imaginary. In keeping with directorial vision, the prerogatives of the film industry or the internal demands of genre, the suburb could be made to impart a strong impression of reality or unreality, novelty or ordinariness, danger or enjoyment. The contributors to this volume argue collectively for a long history of the suburban imaginary by contrasting diverse ‘structures of feeling’ (Raymond Williams) that correlate to divergent aesthetic and ideological programmes. Commenting on narrative, documentary and essay films, they address such themes as class conflict, leisure, boredom, violence and anti-authoritarianism, underscoring the broader function of the suburb as a site of intense cultural productivity.

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
Martine Beugnet

directors had begun to depict life in a multiethnic France. Black and beur cinemas focused in particular on the ‘second generation’ (young French people born in France of parents who were originally immigrants) growing up in one of the cités, the housing estates established in the 1960s and 1970s in the suburbs of large cities. The cinéma de banlieue (literally, the ‘cinema of the suburbs’, a denomination that includes much

in Claire Denis
Gemma King

that do not share both characteristics, such as La Faute à Voltaire (2001), a beur film set in inner Paris and filmed by the Franco-Maghrebin Abdellatif Kechiche, or La Haine (1995), a banlieue film set in an HLM but directed by white French filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz. Films from these cinéma de banlieue and cinéma beur movements, with their ‘thematisations of imposed exile’ (Bloom 2006: 133), often feature (albeit brief) excerpts of typically migrant languages such as Arabic and, in the twenty-first century, Bambara, Berber and other African languages. None of

in Decentring France
Annie Fourcaut

), Regards sur la ville, Paris, Editions du Centre Georges Pompidou. ‘Deux chauffeurs de taxi assassinés, l’un à Noisy-le-Sec, l’autre à Marseille’ (1963), Dernières nouvelles d’Alsace, 9 Feb. Kermabon, Jacques (ed.) (1995), Parcours de cinéma en Ile-de-France, Paris, Textuel. Magny, Joël (1995), ‘Paris et la Nouvelle Vague’, CinémAction 75: Architecture, décor et cinéma: 126–33. Marion, Denis (1946), ‘Aubervilliers’, Combat, 30 March. Milleliri, Carole (2011), ‘Le cinéma de banlieue: un genre instable’, Mise au point 3. http:// Accessed 3 June 2016

in Screening the Paris suburbs
Keith Reader

4 The banlieue in French cinema of the 1930s Keith Reader La banlieue est multiple. Le film de banlieue ne constitue pas un genre. Il n’a ni règles, ni codes. Il se définit par un décor, un climat, c’est un cinéma de situations.1 (Narvalo 1981: 3) The above was written, in a magazine published by the Maison Populaire de Montreuil, well before the cinéma de banlieue symptomatised by La Haine (Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995) emerged as a genre in its own right. Films de banlieue, indeed, have a history almost as long as that of cinema itself, as Annie Fourcaut notes in

in Screening the Paris suburbs
Phil Powrie

Kassovitz, 1995) and the American-inspired cinéma de banlieue , the films of Besson, along with those of Beineix and Carax, as explained by Raphaël Bassan in this volume (see pp. 11–21), proposed that alienated young people were driven to the violent margins of society. At a formal level, Besson’s films engage, at least apparently, with a postmodern interest in surface and pastiche, as analysed by Fredric

in The films of Luc Besson
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
Margaret C. Flinn

extension of the mélange of industry, workers and leisure, but our interest here lies on the specifically utopian status and character of the filmed banlieue long before the crystallisation of a cinéma de banlieue and other journalistic or literary narratives conditioned contemporary viewers to see it in a predominantly negative way. Julien Duvivier’s adaptation of Émile Zola’s eponymous novel of 1883, Au Bonheur des Dames, can certainly be seen as extending late nineteenth-century representations of the suburb. Part of Zola’s twenty-volume Rougon-Macquart saga, Au

in Screening the Paris suburbs