The Sight and Sound of Albanian Migration in Contemporary Italian Cinema

Derek Duncan


With particular reference of Gianni Amelio’s Lamerica (1994) and Ennio De Dominicis’s L’Italiano (2001), this article looks at a number of recent Italian films that ostensibly deal with migration from Albania to Italy in the 1990s. I argue that these films use migration as a means of exploring the nation’s past history of colonial expansion and emigration rather than documenting a current socio-cultural phenomenon. The article begins by analyzing these films in terms of the constitutive role afforded to cinema in the construction of Italian national identity. It then goes on to examine how Italy’s historical relationship with Albania is recalled in ambivalent terms. This ambivalence is projected onto the bodies of the Albanian migrant whose alterity these films construct through an insistence on an essential cultural and physiological difference. The article explores the various strategies that these films employ to remind the spectator of the irreconcilable difference between Italians and Albanians. The avowed humanitarian intentions of these films are compromised by their insistence on the impermeablity of Italian identity.

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New Readings — ISSN: 13597485


Published by: Cardiff School of Modern Languages