Skip to main content

Unit information: Crossing Borders: French and Maghrebi Cinemas in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Crossing Borders: French and Maghrebi Cinemas
Unit code FREN30105
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Marianne Ailes
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit analyses representations of border crossing in French and Maghrebi films since the new millennium. Students will be asked to consider how a discrete, yet significant corpus of films featuring Maghrebi(-French) people has used the border crossing motif to explore questions of exile, identity, belonging, “home” and displacement. These films will be examined with reference to their specific socio-political contexts and against the backdrop of Franco-Maghrebi relations. Students will develop knowledge of exilic and transnational film theories, and of recent critical conceptualisations around identity, exile and belonging.


  • To provide an in-depth examination of representations of border crossing and migration in films from the Maghreb and France since the new millennium
  • To expose students to a broad range of visual representations of border crossing, migration, movement, exile and displacement in contemporary filmic narratives
  • To develop students’ knowledge of representational strategies, genres and aesthetic trends in border crossing films through detailed textual analysis and critical study of ten key case studies
  • To explore advanced theoretical writings in English and French on identity, exile, home and displacement

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course, students will:

1. Possess an advanced knowledge of films that treat the themes of border crossing, migration, exile, home and displacement

2. Be able to respond critically and analytically to the issues/debates raised by the films studied

3. Be able to demonstrate a firm grasp of theoretical and critical scholarship around exile, migration, and displacement

4. Be able to formulate independent judgements and engage with ideas at a high level of complexity

5. Possess sophisticated visual analytical skills and an ability to use film terminology correctly

Teaching details

Teaching methods will include plenary presentations, small group work, large group discussions and independent study.

Assessment Details

1 small group presentation in seminar (25%)

1 extended essay (75%), submission following the unit, 4000 words max. The assessment will test ILOs 1-5.

Reading and References

  • Armes, Roy, Post-Colonial Images: Studies in North African Cinema (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2005)
  • Durmelat, Sylvie and Vinay Swamy, eds, Screening Integration: Recasting Maghrebi Immigration in Contemporary France (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011)
  • Higbee, Will, ‘Beyond the (Trans)National: Towards a Cinema of Transvergence in Postcolonial and Diasporic Francophone Cinema(s)’, Studies in French Cinema, 7 (2007), 79-91
  • ——— Post-Beur Cinema: North African Émigré and Maghrebi-French Filmmaking in France since 2000 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013)
  • Khalil, Andrea, ed., North African Cinema in a Global Context: Through the Lens of Diaspora (Oxon: Routledge, 2008)
  • Naficy, Hamid, An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001)