The Diasporic Family in Cinema

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


From Visconti’s classic tale about urban migration in Rocco and His Brothers and Coppola’s Godfather Trilogy, through mainstream family romances such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge to popular or critically acclaimed depictions of diasporic domesticity in East is East, Inch’ Allah Dimanche and Die Fremde, the family assumes a prominent place in cinematic narratives about the dynamics of postmodern multiculturalism and transnational mobility.
The conference will provide a platform for dialogue with filmmakers and other media professionals who engage with issues of cultural diversity. It aims to explore how media practitioners negotiate between their artistic ambitions, the demands of the public funding bodies and the market in their construction of diasporic family life on screen and how these films intervene with ongoing media debates about hegemonic and minority cultures in Western societies.
Contemporary cinema attests to the crisis of the institution of the family in the Western world. Films about the diasporic family suggest that this particular type of family is under even greater pressure. Displacement and dispersal, the rupture of cultural and familial ties, language barriers, social exclusion, racism and negotiations of the multi-layered politics of belonging in the host and home countries are frequently shown to lead to a destabilisation of family structures and identities. Conversely, however, many films also foreground the benefits of non-Western family values and kinship networks and thereby offer a critique of the Western cult of the individual and the alleged superiority of the hegemonic white family.
The conference will be accompanied by two public screenings of films that offer complementary views of diasporic family life: Feo Aladag’s Oscar-nominated film Die Fremde/When We Leave about an honour killing in a Turkish-German family and Sandhya Suri’s documentary, I for India, about her own family’s migratory history.
Period21 May 2011
Event typeOther