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From critique to compliance: Images of ethnicity in Salut cousin (1996) and Chouchou (2003)

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Salut cousin (1996) and Chouchou (2003) were both made by Algerian-born director Merzak Allouache and cast one of France's biggest comic stars, Gad Elmaleh, in the main role. Both films use comedy to explore the migration of young men from Algeria and the integration of French Maghrebis. However, as this article demonstrates, despite their similarities in terms of theme, form, filmmaker and star, their approaches to ethnicity differ markedly. While Salut cousin shows the limitations of French republican politics, Chouchou presents a rather more utopian image of a country which is seemingly able to welcome and accept ethnic minorities with little anxiety. Through the comparison of these two films, the article probes the advantages and disadvantages of utilising comedy as an arena for presenting audiences with the highly contentious issues of incoming migration and race. It concludes by questioning whether a more critical approach to these questions is preferable over one which emphasises entertainment and thus attracts more spectators.

Keywords: Maghreb; assimilation; cultural hybridity; exile; migration; mtissage culturel

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/seci.4.1.35_1

Affiliations: The University of Manchester.

Publication date: May 21, 2007

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  • Studies in European Cinema provides an outlet for research into any aspect of European cinema and is unique in its interdisciplinary nature, celebrating the rich and diverse cultural heritage across the continent. The journal is distinctive in bringing together a range of European cinemas in one volume and in its positioning of the discussions within a range of contexts - the cultural, historical, textual, and many others.
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