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Borrowed identities: Mathieu Kassovitz and Djamel Bensalah

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A comparison of Mtisse and La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz with Le Ciel, les oiseaux et ta mre and Le Raid by Djamel Bensalah makes clear the different approaches of these filmmakers. However, these works are linked in their exploration of the lack ethnic others can experience in mirrors, be they literal or the figurative variety represented by the images of the media. Both directors investigate the power of borrowing as a tactic to combat this exclusion. Their characters construct an identity for themselves by borrowing from elsewhere. Moreover, Kassovitz and Bensalah playfully point to their own directorial borrowing. The characters imitate a receding range of sources, creating an identity which, whilst it affords a sense of agency, has a deconstructive effect since it points to its own lack of origin. These performed identities question the processes and images of representation, damaging cameras in the films of Bensalah and Kassovitz.
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Keywords: Bensalah; Kassovitz; borrowing; exclusion; reflection; representation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wales, Bangor.

Publication date: 09 February 2007

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.
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