From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Paris ‘bande à part’: sguardi cartografici e tessuti cinematografici nel cinema di banlieue (e dintorni)

Paola Cosma and Farah Polato


Paris ‘bande à part’: cartographic gazes and cinematographic fabrics in the banlieue cinema (and surroundings). The article positions in the effervescent but slippery space where geographical visual approaches dialogue with film studies, and looks at the recent developments of the so-called French cinéma de banlieue (banlieue films). It presents two different but related sections, both based on textual readings. The first section, by Paola Cosma, questions the cinéma de banlieue as a cinema centred on a male dominant subject (L. De Franceschi) faced with the irruption, in the 2000s, of narratives characterised by female directors or with female protagonists, giving attention to the recurrences and shifts from the acquired spatial representational modes of the specific filmic category. The second one, by Farah Polato, follows along with the recent film event Les Misérables (2019), by Ladj Ly, unanimously affiliated to the cinéma de banlieue’s genealogy. Then, the analysis moves on to the earlier La vie de Château (2017), by Mody Barry and Cedric Ido, which shows a more articulated relationship with the banlieue films, but shares with them the representation of a ‘world apart’ within the city of Paris. Here, the general concept of space-building is explored: in Ly’s visual concept, it appears to question the perspective from above and the drone-view, usually linked to an omniscient and dominant ‘eye’; in Barry-Ido’s proposal, instead, it adopts a ‘feet-made cartography’ emerging through the character’s walking. In both sections of the article, parameters such as scale and distance – shared in their shifting meanings by geography and film studies (Lukinbeal 2012; 2015, 12) – are relevant in guiding the textual reading. The annexed Google maps, by locating the places and itineraries of the narrations, make the dynamics among the concrete, symbolic and emotional distances covered by the characters visible but also highlight their performativity in the space.


cinéma de banlieue, maps, Paris, Ladj Ly, Cedric Ido, Mody Barry



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