Families in Motion and the Hybridization of the Road Movie

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Conference paper presented at the European Popular Culture Conference, held in London in July 2012. This paper examines how diasporic cinema hybridizes the genre of the road movie. According to Timothy Corrigan the emergence of the road movie in post-classical Hollywood cinema as a distinct genre coincides with the crisis of the family from the late 1950s onwards. What replaces idealised representations of the security of the family home and the formation of the hetereosexual couple at the journey’s end in antecedents of the road movie, are the male buddies on the road. Even though the evolution of the road movie beyond its heyday in the 1960s and seventies and its European inflection, render Corrigan’s apodictic assessment about the incompatibility of the road and the family, problematic the road movie’s inherent ‘hospitality […] to the marginalized and alienated’ (Cohan and Hark…12) points towards a natural affinity between the road movie and the diasporic family. This is further reinforced by the genre’s counter-cultural impetus and ‘its obvious potential for romanticizing alienation as well as for problematizing the uniform identity of the nation’s culture’ (Cohan and Hark) inasmuch as both the road movie and the diasporic family mount a critique of hegemonic and territorialised conceptions of national culture and belonging. This is particularly true of the European road movie with its emphasis on borders and border crossings – political, cultural, social and linguistic.
Focusing on Ayse Polat’s Tour Abroad (2000), Ismaël Ferroukhi’s Le Grand Voyage (2004) and Yasemin Samdereli’s Almanya – Welcome to Germany (2011), this paper explores what effect being on the road has on the structure and dynamics of the diasporic family and, conversely, how the diasporic family on the road inflects the generic conventions of the road movie.
Period11 Jul 201213 Jul 2012
Event typeOther