Italian filmmakers have produced a vast range of important films focusing on the issue of immigration, considering Italy's role as both a source of immigrants to nations such as the United States and Canada, as well as a destination for immigrants fleeing from conditions of poverty and persecution in many countries. In addition, many recent immigrants to Italy have come in pursuit of opportunity rather than as an escape. While Italy has been criticized for limitations in its ability to integrate recent newcomers and for its narrow and traditionalist understanding of Italian identity, immigration films often reveal a depth of empathetic and humanitarian response aimed at breaking down social, political, and ideological barriers to acceptance of new arrivals. This course examines the rich tradition of Italian immigration films, focusing on selected films from the mid-1990s to the present. Both documentary and fiction films will be included. Through the lens of immigration films, the course considers central themes of human rights, cultural identity, gender roles, and explorations of self and other. Historical trajectories of immigration to Italy, international responses to immigration and refugee crises, and the economic and political aspects of immigration will be considered. The course will cover immigration to Italy from many countries including Albania, Romania, Senegal, China, Tunisia, Ghana, and Nigeria.
The course will examine three chronological periods of immigration in Italian film. Two films of the 1990s provide historical context and introduce several themes of immigration from and to Italy, particularly questions of national and cultural identity, empathy and accommodation of immigrants. The ability of these earlier films to expose painful aspects of immigrant experiences as well as their objectification and stereotyping of immigrants are examined. Films of the early 2000s expand on these themes and provide opportunities to explore questions of personal, social, and national identity in relation to the "other," as Italian values related to family, work, gender, race and class are challenged, expanded, and strengthened. The most recent films, produced between 2010 and the present, highlight some of the limitations of earlier strategies of representing immigrants, providing an expanded platform for the emergence of immigrant voices while simultaneously highlighting shortcomings of contemporary approaches to immigration and representation.
No preliminary knowledge is required for this course. Required course assignments will include 30 pages of essay reading per week. We will view and discuss one film per week, and readings will provide related information to help us understand and discuss each film, such as analysis of technical and stylistic elements of film, historical background, and the social and political contexts of film production and reception.
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
1. distinguish film styles and techniques in relation representation of immigrants in Italian films
2. identify key directors and films in the Italian immigration film tradition
3. provide thoughtful and informed critique of immigrant representation in historical and political context
4. understand key factors in the contemporary Italian context of immigration
Attendance and participation: 15%
Two film reviews (15% each x 2 =) 30%
In-Class presentation: 20%
Final paper: 35%
Week 1: Italian Film Traditions
Reading: Ch. 2 Bondanella (“Masters of Neorealism”)
Reading: Wood, Mary P., Chapter 1, “What is Italian Cinema?,” from Italian Cinema. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2005.
Week 2: Italian Film Traditions
Reading: Chapter 3 of Bondanella: Exploring the Boundaries of Neorealism
Week 3: Overview: Periods of Italian Immigration
Reading: Luciano/ Scarparo, Reframing Italy ch. 5: “Migration/Transnational Mobility,” p. 137-151.
Reading: Bianchi, Georgia. “Italiani nuovi o nuova Italia? Citizenship and Attitudes Towards the Second Generation in Contemporary Italy,” Journal of Modern Italian Studies 16.3 (2011), 321-333.
Reading: Colella F. (2017). "The Representation of Migrants in Italian Cinema, from the Stereotypes to the Socio-Political Mission of Present-Day Film Directors," Italian Sociological Review, 7.2, 165-181. [DOI: 10.13136/isr.v7i2.172].
Film: L'Assedio (Bertolucci, 1997)
Week 4: Italian Immigration Films of the 1990s
Reading: O'Healy, Aine. (2019). Migrant Anxieties. (Chapter 1 After 1989: Projecting the Balkans): pp. 15-50.
Reading: Caminati, Luca. “The Return of History: Gianni Amelio’s Lamerica, Memory, and National Identity” Italica 83.3-4(2006).
Required Film: Lamerica (Gianni Amelio, 1994)
Suggested/Optional: L'Italiano (Ennio De Domenicis, 2002), Oltre Il Confine (2002)
Week 5: Racial Representation
Reading: O'Healy, Aine. Migrant Anxieties, Ch.3: African Immigration in the 1990s, pp. 78-107.
Reading: O'Healy, Aine. Migrant Anxieties, Ch. 5: Imagining an Expanded Mediterranean Borderscape, pp. 136-177 (selected pages only).
Required Film: Terraferma (Crialese, 2010)
Optional Film: Billo il Gran Dakhaar (Laura Muscardin, 2007)
Week 6: Immigration in Contemporary Italy
Reading: West, Rebecca. “Epilogue: Italian Culture or Multiculture in the New Millennium,” in Baranski and West, pp. 337-346.
Optional Reading: Montali, Lorenzo, et al. “The Representation of Migrants in the Italian Press: A Study on the Corriere della sera (1992-2009),” Journal of Language and Politics 12.2 (2013): 226-250.
Optional Reading: Maher, Vanessa. “Immigration and Social Identities,” Forgacs/ Lumley, 160-177.
Film: Io L'altro (Mohsen Melliti, 2006)
Optional: Into Paradiso (Paola Randi, 2010)
Week 7: Gender In Italian Immigration Film
Reading: O'Healy, Aine. Migrant Anxieties, Chapter 2: Traffic from the East: Gender, Labor, and Biopolitics, pp. 51-77 (section Screening the Badante pp. 60-77).
Reading: Duncan, Derek. (2008). “Italy’s Postcolonial Cinema and its Histories of Representation,” Italian Studies 63.2, 195-211.
Optional Reading: Wood, Mary P. “Gender Representations and Gender Politics,: Italian Cinema. New York: Berg, 2005, pp. 155-181.
Film: Saimir (Francesco Munzi, 2004)
Week 8: Gender in Immigration Films II
Reading: Liu, Xin. “Rescuing Damsels in Distress: Chinese Women in Contemporary Italian Cinema.” Southeast Review of Asian Studies 37(2015): 50-59.
Reading: O'Healy, Aine. Migrant Anxieties, pp. 186-192.
Film: Shun Li and the Poet (Segre, 2011)
Week 9: Representing Italian Immigration through Documentary
Reading: Angeloni, A. (2016). "Italian Documentaries and Immigration," In Italian Political Cinema: Life, Imaginary, and Identity in Contemporary Italian Film, edited by Giancarlo Lombardi. and Christian Uva. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Reading: Esposito, Francesca. (2013). "The Journey from a Poor Country: Attempts to Escape Italy's Economic and Moral Poverty in Recent Documentaries, in Daniel Winkler and Sabine Schrader (Eds). The Cinemas of Italian Migration: European and Transatlantic Narratives, pp. 91-106.
Required Film: Hotel Splendid (2016)
Optional: Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi, 2016)
Week 10: Coming of Age Themes in Italian Immigration Film
Reading: O'Healy, Aine. Migrant Anxieties, Chapter 4: Migration, Masculinity, and Italy’s New Urban Geographies, pp. 108-135.
Film: Quando sei nato non puoi piu nasconderti (Marco Tullio Giordana, 2005)
Week 11: Student Presentations
Week 12: Student Presenta
Lamerica (Gianni Amelio, 1994)
L'assedio (Bertolucci, 1997)
Saimir (Franceso Munzi, 2004)
Quando Sei Nato, Non Puoi Piu Nasconderti (Once you are born, you can no longer hide: Marco Tullio Giordana, 2005)
Billo: Il Grand Dakhaar (Laura Muscardin, 2007)
Io, L'Altro (I, The Other: Mohsen Melliti, 2007)
Bianco e Nero (Black and White: C. Comencini, 2008)
Into Paradiso (Paola Randi, 2010)
Io Sono Li (Shun Li and the Poet: Andre Segre, 2011)
Terraferma (Emanuele Crialese, 2013)
Fuocoammare (Fire At Sea: Gianfranco Rosi, 2016)
Hotel Splendid (Mauro Bucci, 2016)
Angeloni, A. (2016). "Italian Documentaries and Immigration," In Italian Political Cinema: Life, Imaginary, and Identity in Contemporary Italian Film, edited by Giancarlo Lombardi and Christian Uva New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Bianchi, G. (2011). “Italiani nuovi o nuova Italia? Citizenship and Attitudes Towards the Second Generation in Contemporary Italy,” Journal of Modern Italian Studies 16.3, 321-333.
Bondanella, Peter. ( 2001). Italian Cinema from Neorealism to the Present. New York: Continuum. (chapters 2 and 3 only).
Caminati, L. (2006). “The Return of History: Gianni Amelio’s Lamerica, Memory, and National Identity” Italica 83.3-4.
Colella F. (2017). "The Representation of Migrants in Italian Cinema, from the Stereotypes to the Socio-Political Mission of Present-Day Film Directors," Italian Sociological Review, 7.2, 165-181. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.13136/isr.v7i2.172. [DOI: 10.13136/isr.v7i2.172].
Duncan, Derek. (2008). “Italy’s Postcolonial Cinema and its Histories of Representation,” Italian Studies 63.2, 195-211.
Liu, Xin. (2015). “Rescuing Damsels in Distress: Chinese Women in Contemporary Italian Cinema.” Southeast Review of Asian Studies 37, 50-59.
Luciano, B., and Scarparo, S. Reframing Italy: New Trends in Italian Women's Filmmaking, Chapter. 5: “Migration/Transnational Mobility.” West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 117-152.
Maher, V. (1996). “Immigration and Social Identities,” in Forgacs and Lumley. (Eds.) Italian Cultural Studies: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford Unviersity Press.
O'Healy, A. (2019). Migrant Anxieties: Italian Cinema in a Transnational Frame. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. (selected chapters)
Schrader, S., and. Winkler, D. (Eds.) (2013). The Cinemas of Italian Migration: European and Transatlantic Narratives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. (selected chapters)
West, Rebecca. “Epilogue: Italian Culture or Multiculture in the New Millennium,” in Baranski and West (Eds.), Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture. Cambridge UP, pp. 337-346.
Wood, Mary. (2005). Italian Cinema. New York: Oxford (Introduction Only).
Zhang, Gaoheng. “The Protest in Milan’s Chinatown and the Chinese Immigrants in Italy in the Media (2007-2009),” Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies 1.1, 21-37.