Keynote address at La famille au cinéma conference
Professor Daniela Berghahn, Royal Holloway, University of London
The University of La Rochelle organised an interdisciplinary conference entitled La famille au cinéma (28 - 29 June 2013), where Daniela Berghahn gave a keynote address on 'Immigrant Families and Alternative Models of Family Life in European Cinema'. A video of her presentation and subsequent discussion can be accessed at the following site: http://portail-video.univ-lr.fr/Immigrant-Families-and-Alternative
In this keynote address, Daniela Berghahn proposes that films about immigrant families crystallize the emotionally ambivalent response to growing ethnic and family diversity in the West. Constructed as Other on account of their ethnicity, language, religion and different structures of kinship, immigrant families are frequently perceived as a threat to the social cohesion of Western societies. At the same time they embody a nostalgic longing for the traditional family, imagined in terms of extended kinship ties and superior family values. By affirming or challenging these prevalent media images, films about far-flung families make important contributions to wider socio-political and legal debates about immigration, citizenship, ethnic diversity and the success or failure of multiculturalism.Three films that engage with alternative family values and structures serve to illustrate this argument. The Turkish German family melodrama Die Fremde (Feo Aladag, 2010), which addresses the inflammatory issue of female honour killings; the British Asian comedy West is West (Andy De Emmony, 2011), which features a trans-local extended family based in rural Pakistan and Salford in northern England; and Abdellatif Kechiche’s portrait of a Maghrebi French patchwork family in La graine et le mulet (2007) that makes a case for elective family bonds over ties of blood.