In the impoverished outskirts of French cities, known as the banlieues, minority communities are turning to American culture, history, and theory to make their own voices, cultures, and histories visible. Filmmakers have followed suit, turning to Hollywood genre conventions to challenge notions of identity, belonging, and marginalization in mainstream French film. French B Movies proposes that French banlieue films, far from being a fringe genre, offer a privileged site from which to understand the current state of the French film industry in an age of globalization. This gritty style appears in popular arthouse films such as Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine and Bande de filles (Girlhood) along with the major Netflix hit series Lupin. David Pettersen traces how, in these works and others, directors fuse features of banlieue cinema with genre formulas associated with both Hollywood and Black cultural models, as well as how transnational genre hybridizations, such as B movies, have become part of the ecosystem of the French film industry.
By combining film analysis, cultural history, critical theory, and industry studies, French B Movies reveals how featuring banlieues is as much about trying to imagine new identities and production models for French cinema as it is about representation.
About the Author
David Pettersen is Director of the Film and Media Studies Program and Associate Professor of French and Film and Media Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He is author of Americanism, Media and the Politics of Culture in 1930s France.