Borrowed identities: Mathieu Kassovitz and Djamel Bensalah

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Abstract

A comparison of Métisse and La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz with Le Ciel, les oiseaux et ta mère and Le Raid by Djamel Bensalah makes clear the different approaches of these filmmakers. However, these works are linked in their exploration of the lack ethnic others can experience in mirrors, be they literal or the figurative variety represented by the images of the media. Both directors investigate the power of borrowing as a tactic to combat this exclusion. Their characters construct an identity for themselves by borrowing from elsewhere. Moreover, Kassovitz and Bensalah playfully point to their own directorial borrowing. The characters imitate a receding range of sources, creating an identity which, whilst it affords a sense of agency, has a deconstructive effect since it points to its own lack of origin. These performed identities question the processes and images of representation, damaging cameras in the films of Bensalah and Kassovitz.

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