A Bridge Over Troubled Water?

Loving Jews and Muslims in two recent Mediterranean films

Authored by: Yosefa Loshitzky

The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Politics

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415717397
eBook ISBN: 9781315678863
Adobe ISBN: 9781317392460


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One of the dominant themes in contemporary European films about migration and diaspora is the trope of ‘forbidden love’, “the cross-racial love story or union which very often is presented as the ‘solution’ (or allegory) to the ‘immigration problem’” (Loshitzky 2010: 78). The films discussed in this chapter, Seres queridos/Only Human (Harari and Pelegri, 2004) and Mauvaise foi/Bad Faith (Zem, 2006), respectively ‘representing’ two major Mediterranean countries, Spain and France, involve a narrative of interfaith love affair between a Jewish woman and a Muslim man. Like many other films of this emerging genre in European cinema Only Human and Bad Faith convey the escalating dominant discourse of Europe’s anxiety regarding its new migrants and others within. Yet, what is particularly interesting in the love stories portrayed in these films is that religion crossing, and not ‘race’ constitute the act of ‘transgression’ and ‘miscegenation’. Consequently, this chapter suggests that Only Human and Bad Faith both confront and renegotiate the symbolic political space that the new cultural racism occupies in the growing debate on ‘the immigration question’ in Europe. This debate has ‘racialized’ religion (particularly Islam) because ‘race’, in its former ‘biological’ and pseudo-scientific guise, is not only a taboo but also, a legally sanctioned concept in post-Holocaust Europe.

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