Ginette Vincendeau (King’s College, London)
From the Margins to the Centre: Ethnicity and the French Star-System
Until recently, stardom in France signally failed to reflect the multi-ethnic composition of the post-colonial population. Major stars were white and those with non-white parentage (e.g. Isabelle Adjani) subsumed it under a colour-blind national identity. Conversely, actors of visibly non-white origins were confined to stereotypical roles such as drug dealers in crime films. Over the last ten years or so, however, a remarkable change has taken place. Increasing numbers of actors from immigrant backgrounds have not only played lead roles, but they have reached the pinnacle of the star system through massive box-office hits: Samy Naceri (the Taxi series), Jamel Debbouze (Astérix et Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre), Gad Elmaleh (Chouchou), Dany Boon and Kad Merad (Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis) and Omar Sy (Intouchables), to name the six most successful. This presentation discusses what has made possible the arrival en masse of these actors, the roles they play and the professional and ideological implications of their shift from the margins to the centre of the star system and celebrity culture in France.
Workshop with Ginette Vincendeau from 2-4 pm, IG Building, Room 7.312 (Film Studies Room). For registration and information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ginette Vincendeau is Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. She has written widely on popular French and European cinema and is a regular contributor to Sight and Sound. She is the author of Pépé le Moko (BFI, 1998); Stars and Stardom in French Cinema (Continuum, 2000 and 2004; L’Harmattan 2009); Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris (BFI, 2003); La Haine (I.B. Tauris, 2005) and Brigitte Bardot (BFI Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013). She is also co-editor, among others, of Journeys of Desire, European Actors in Hollywood (BFI, 2006), The French New Wave: Critical Landmarks (BFI, 2009) and A Companion to Jean Renoir (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).