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When walls collapse! Rethinking the sites of memory in Hakim Belabbes’s Collapsed Walls (2022)

ABSTRACT Hakim Belabbes’s Collapsed Walls (2022) is an innovative Moroccan film that visually retells a set of stories from the life experience of the filmmaker in the city of Bejaad (Morocco). Grounding our work in transnational cinematic approaches and in cultural studies, our reading of Collapsed Walls attempts to holistically (de)encode the filmic construction of the contextual, the formal, and the thematic narratives that suffuse the film. We shed light on how this film engages with Belabbes’s cinematic style and how the Moroccan cultural identity is reshaped through his poetic filmic narratives. The methodology is bolstered by non-participant observation at the avant-première of the film in Casablanca on 20 May 2022, as well as an interview with the film director. Belabbes was trained in Chicago, where he lives, but the transnationality of his films is blurred by his heavy focus on his hometown, as a source of inspiration and as an iconic representation of his cultural identity. The other main characteristic of the disruptive approach to transnationalism in Belabbes’ films is permeated by what we have dubbed the ‘genre’s transnomadism’, considering the liminal, dialogic and transborder use of genres in Belabbes’ work. Collapsed Walls’ transnational resonances create a disruptive version of experimentation at the heart of the real narrative of the film, creating a knot of contrasts and ambivalent discourses through the negotiation of the real and the unreal, the spiritual and the sublime, the sacred and the profane.

Formalised transnationalism in the informal Nigerian video film industry: streaming, audience re-imaginations and production reconfigurations

ABSTRACT This article examines the implications of the transnational dynamics of streaming for the Nigerian video film industry (Nollywood) considering its historical predominance of informality in cross-border circulation. Right from its emergence in 1992 as a straight-to-video film industry, Nollywood has been significantly transnational in distribution albeit through the complex web of transnational piracy and other informal networks. This mode of informal transnationalism orchestrated wide visibility for the industry, but it brought minimal revenues for producers who were desirous of much formalised distribution system to connect to transnational capital and audiences. Since 2010, streaming has become progressively integrated into Nollywood’s distribution eco-system and is introducing much formalised transnational consumption practices. Adopting the critical transnationalism approach (Higbee & Lim, 2010; Shaw, 2018), this paper draws from semi-structured interviews with 35 stakeholders in Nollywood and critical analysis of trade press. It argues that streaming has opened formal pathways to transnational capital and audiences hitherto unseen in Nollywood and is orchestrating audience fragmentations and reconfigurations of production practices in the industry. The paper extends existing debates on critical analysis of how specific forms of transnationalism impacts the quotidian practices in a media industry as well as the cultural implications.

Sinophone becoming in Wong Kar-wai’s in the mood for love (2000)

Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) tells the story of Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chen, who, in learning that their spouses are engaged in an affair, fall in love themselves. However, in vowing to “never be like them,” Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chen abandon their affections and, by the end of the film, go their separate ways. As many have suggested, In the Mood for Love is as much a melodramatic love story as it is an allegory of Hong Kong’s precarious political situation since the British handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997. But rather than understanding the failure of their relationship in the limited sense of Wong’s representation of the difficulties ahead for Hong Kong’s political reunification with China, we argue that In the Mood for Love should be read as Wong’s portrayal of an opening to a form of life and identity that resists the narrative of Chinese essentialism often purported by the CCP. We explore this potentiality by examining how Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chen’s role-playing of their spouses’ affair, the film’s non-linear sense of time and the continual juxtaposition and confluence of East and West through dress, food, and music function as constructs of Gilles Deleuze’s crystal image. We further contend that the film’s repeated use of the crystal image suggests a Deleuzian reading of the potential processes of deterritorialization and, what we call, Sinophone becoming for both individuals and communities that constitute the Chinese diaspora.