Contemporary French Civilization

Orienteering (through) cinéma-monde: the hubs, networks, borders, and forests of airport cinema

Contemporary French Civilization (2022), 47, (1), 17–45.

Abstract

This article considers a selection of films about air travel that encompass an array of voyagers from refugees to business travelers as a metaphor for cinéma-monde and its complex threads and trajectories. Through an analysis of key moments of transition, transformation, or exposition within short scenes from six films set at least in part at airports, I examine how characters and viewers orient themselves between the hubs shared by air networks and the film apparatuses that compose cinéma-monde. I also consider the ways that air networks intersect with other (terrestrial, virtual, cine-industrial) networks. The films analyzed are Des étoiles/Under the Starry Sky (Dyana Gaye, 2013, France/Belgium/Senegal), Je suis mort mais j’ai des amis/I’m Dead But I Have Friends (Guillaume Malandrin and Stéphane Malandrin, 2015, Belgium/France), Le fils de Jean/A Kid (Philippe Lioret, 2016, France/Canada), Bab el web (Merzak Allouache, 2005, France/Switzerland/Algeria), Bird People (Pascale Ferran, 2014, France), and De Nieuwe Wereld/The New World (Jaap van Heusden, 2013, Netherlands). Drawing on these examples, I propose the concept of “orienteering” as a description for how protagonists navigate narrative spaces but also as a model for how viewers and scholars might interact with films with the cinéma-monde framework.

Cet essai analyse une sélection de six films représentant une gamme diversifiée d’expériences avec les voyages aériens (du réfugié au voyageur d’affaires). Analysés ensemble, ces voyages filmiques reflètent et symbolisent toute la diversité d’itinéraires et de trajectoires du cinémamonde. À travers une lecture des scènes qui comprennent des moments clés de transition, de transformation, ou d’exposition qui se déroulent dans un aéroport, j’explique les façons par lesquelles les personnages et les spectateurs s’orientent entre les hubs des réseaux aériens mais aussi les centres des réseaux du cinéma-monde. Les films analysés sont Des étoiles/Under the Starry Sky (Dyana Gaye, 2013, France/Belgique/Sénégal), Je suis mort mais j’ai des amis/I’m Dead But I Have Friends (Guillaume Malandrin and Stéphane Malandrin, 2015, Belgique/France), Le fils de Jean/A Kid (Philippe Lioret, 2016, France/Canada), Bab el web (Merzak Allouache, 2005, France/Suisse/Algérie), Bird People (Pascale Ferran, 2014, France), et De Nieuwe Wereld/The New World (Jaap van Heusden, 2013, Pays Bas). La pratique de “orienteering” se déploie comme métaphore pour comprendre à la fois les tentatives des protagonistes à naviguer ces espaces filmiques et aussi comment les spectateurs ainsi que les enseignants et chercheurs puissent s’orienter dans le cadre du cinéma-monde.

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Gott, Michael