(Un)Familiar Spaces: Paris in Outside the Law (2010) and Free Men (2011)

Alex Hastie

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The Hollywood-inspired Maghrebi-French films Outside the Law (Bouchareb, 2010) and Free Men (Ferroukhi, 2011) narrate geographies of exclusion and belonging in Paris, France during the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962) and World War Two (1939-1945) respectively. The films employ space and spatial metaphors to articulate and insist on the place of Maghrebi-French people in France. In doing so, they work to disrupt dominant imaginaries of Paris, whilst also revealing the possibilities for resistance in the city as seen from the point-of-view of North-African immigrants. The films are a significant part of a cultural and commercial ‘shift’ toward more mainstream filmmaking in Maghrebi-French cinema. Through reading some of the spaces in the films, this paper interrogates the ways in which they map new geographies of a (post)colonial Paris reimagined at the intersections of colonialism, beur cinema, and Hollywood. The geographical imaginaries constituted in the films are read as the product of a stylistic aesthetic that helps to locate Maghrebi-French identity beyond the confines of the French banlieue. In doing so, the paper contributes to recent debates around cultural flows and exchanges in transnational cinema by centring the importance of space in the context of an aesthetic shift in Maghrebi-French cinema.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages17
JournalTransnational Screens
Issue number3
Early online date6 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • postcolonial
  • maghrebi-french
  • Paris
  • space
  • Genre
  • Algeria


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