The Italian Diaspora and the Impossibility of Home in Swiss Cinema
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The concept of “home” is a crucial leitmotiv in the history of Swiss cinema. More specifically, Heimat – a concept that intersects with that of “home” without overlapping with it – was an important issue in Swiss cinema since the silent film era, and became central during the 1940s and 1950s: the golden age of the Swiss Heimatfilm. In these films, patriotic cultural values are projected onto idyllic natural landscapes, which become the materialization of the concept of Heimat itself. New Swiss Cinema marked the beginning of a modern, critical, urban national cinematography in the 1960s. Since this point, the concept of Heimat, instead of being dismissed, has been criticized. In my article, I will argue that this critique can be perceived particularly in Swiss films related to the Italian diaspora. In many of these films the idyllic representation of Heimat is deconstructed through the representation of a claustrophobic, precarious or even uncanny domestic sphere. For many migrants in these films, to be at “home” simply becomes a dream. Focusing on the analysis of a representative corpus of films, my article intends to bring to light the complex relationships between home, Heimat and diaspora and, in doing so, to contribute to the debate which flourished in the social sciences and in media studies around these concepts and their representations.
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