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French-language Road Cinema

Borders, Diasporas, Migration and 'New Europe'

Michael Gott

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An examination of contemporary French-language road movies within the cultural and political context of ‘New Europe’

Over the past two decades road cinema has become an increasingly popular form of expression for European directors. Focusing on a corpus of films from France, Belgium and Switzerland, including works by Ismaël Ferroukhi, Bouli Lanners, Aki Kaurismäki and Jacqueline Audry amongst many others, French-language Road Cinema contends that nowhere is the impulse to remap the spaces and identities of ‘New Europe’ more evident than in French-language cinema. Drawing on mobility studies, cultural geography and film theory, this innovative work sketches out the flexible yet distinctive parameters of contemporary French-language road cinema, and argues for an understanding of the ‘road movie’ not as a genre but as a thematic and formal template that crosses cinematic categories to bring together a wide array of films that narrate the movements of migrants, tourists and business executives.

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Chapter 1 – ‘Mapping the Hybrid European Road: French Connections, European Traditions and American Influence?’
Chapter 2: Remapping the European Road
Chapter 3: Cowboys, Icebergs, Anarchists and Toreadors: The Paradoxes and Possibilities of the Francophone Belgian Road Cinema
Chapter 4: Travelling Beyond the National: Mobile Citizenship, Flexible Identities in French-language Return Road Movies
Chapter 5 –‘The End of the Road?: Dark Routes and Urban Passageways’

About the Author

Michael Gott is Associate Professor of French and Film and Media Studies at the University of Cincinnati, where he teaches courses in European Studies, Film and Media Studies, and French-language culture and cinema. He is the author of French-language Road Cinema: Borders, Diasporas and ‘New Europe’ (Edinburgh University press, 2016) and co-edited Open Roads, Closed Borders: the Contemporary French-Language Road Movie (Intellect, 2013) and East, West and Centre: Reframing European Cinema Since 1989 (EUP, 2014).


Mapping French-language European road cinema through France, Switzerland and Belgium, its trajectories extending yet further afield in Europe and beyond, Gott’s book is at once a perceptive exploration of a broad but coherent filmic corpus, an astute reexamination of the road movie, and a novel contribution to transnational European film studies. 

Laura Rascaroli, Professor of Film and Screen Media, University College Cork

'An accessible and intuitive contribution to a thriving field of film studies that will appeal to those interested in the changing state of Europe, as well as cinema’s capacity to weigh in on related debates.'
- Ally Lee, Studies in European Cinema

'French Language Road Cinema is a thoughtful, timely and exciting book. The wealth of European film analyses it offers is notable in its attention to underexplored women’s road cinema, Belgian and Swiss productions as well as in its care to delineate opposing meanings of mobility for different European residents. The book reveals a nuanced approach to road film as a form that makes its spectators consider the complexity of identity, mobility and borders in today’s Europe, offering an indispensable trans-disciplinary guide for researchers in European film and mobility studies.'

- Ipek Celik Rappas, LSE Review of Books

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