Philosophically crossing the ‘New Berlin Wall’: Harragas and l’immigration clandestine in French and Francophone cinema
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Mezrak Allouache’s Harragas [dir. 2009. Harragas. Algeria: Librisfilms. Baya Films and France 2 Cinéma] and Philippe Lioret’s Welcome [dir. 2009. Welcome. France: Nord-Ouest Productions] have entered into the debate concerning the global migrant crisis, not only by portraying the issue from the point of view of the migrant and French society, but also by challenging (in the case of Welcome especially) laws concerning immigration. While interesting work has already been done through postcolonial readings and by looking at the role of hospitality in the films, this article will be considering them in relation to the provocative work being produced by philosophers Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek, and Giorgio Agamben, whose concepts of the event, the act, and state of exception respectively will inform its discussion of Harragas and Welcome, and the politics surrounding them. Although all three (Badiou, Žižek, and Agamben) have written about cinema, it is not their cinematic analyses that are of specific interest here, but rather their more general philosophical concepts as enumerated above. This article, therefore, has two related goals in considering the ontologically based concepts of event, act and state of exception: How useful are these concepts in reading the films? And how useful are these concepts in imagining and even actuating political change?