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French cinema in exile: trans-national cultural representation in Tony Gatlif's Gadjo Dilo

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This article explores the notion of cultural authenticity that is a key element of both the narrative and the meta-narrative of Tony Gatlif's 1998 film Gadjo Dilo. The film's young French protagonist seeks to sample Romani (Gypsy) culture by means of a high-quality DAT recording of the singer Nora Luca, only to discover by the film's end that such an endeavour is a futile exercise in Western orientalist fantasy. With a focus on Western European and American critical responses to the film, as well as on the marketing of the film in those regions, the article argues that Gatlif's claims to cultural authenticity as an indigenous gypsy filmmaker function in much the same way as the delusions of his protagonist. Presented by Gatlif as a sample of the truth of Romani cultural identity, the film becomes the kind of problematic cultural artefact that the director seeks to expose within the narrative of his film.

Keywords: Romani culture; ethnography; nation-state; orientalism; song; transnational

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Languages and Linguistics, The University of Melbourne.

Publication date: 2008-09-22

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