Hope and Indignation in Fortress Europe: Immigration and Neoliberal Globalization in Contemporary French Cinema


Over the past twenty years, in France, as elsewhere in Europe, cinema has produced an increasing number of films that engage with the thematics of immigration (both legal and illegal) and represent the living and working conditions of first-generation immigrants. In France, such films have also tended to focus on questions of citizenship and nationality as they pertain to the French-born descendants of immigrants, whose presence within the nation demands a reconsideration of previously fixed notions of community, origins and national identity. Though certainly not limited to the perspective of one ethnic minority, the majority of these French films, from militant immigrant cinema in the 1970s, to so-called beur and banlieue cinema in the 1980s and 1990s, have nonetheless tended to focus on protagonists, politics and narratives of immigrants from France’s former colonies in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Maghrebi characters are still quite visible on the screen. However, since 2000, French film professionals of North African descent have nonetheless begun adopting a broader range of modes of production and genres and now assume a greater variety of roles on both sides of the camera. Moreover, the last ten years have seen an increasing range of ethnically diverse immigrant protagonists appearing in French-language films, and not solely those from France’s long-established postcolonial diasporas.

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