Title: Polish Labor Migration in Contemporary Film and Fiction. A Comparative Approach
Authors: Van Heuckelom, Kris # ×
Issue Date: 2010
Conference: Polish Studies in the 21st Century edition:3 location:University of Michigan, Ann Arbor date:16-18 September 2010
Abstract: As early as the 1980s, with the release of Jerzy Skolimowski’s Moonlighting (1982) and Michael Klier’s Überall ist es besser wo wir nicht sind (1989), filmmakers from various European countries have engaged in adapting aspects of Polish labor migration into cinematic fiction. This narrative device has become particularly widespread during the past two decades when at least nine European motion pictures featuring Polish characters in the role of migrant workers have made it to the screen (Le clandestin, 1993; La ballata dei lavavetri, 1998; De Poolse bruid, 1998; You Can’t Eat Fishing, 1999; Fyra veckor i juni, 2004; It’s a Free World, 2007; Nederlands voor beginners, 2007; Somers Town, 2008; Herrn Kukas Empfehlungen, 2008). Generally speaking, this trend in European cinema can be linked to the increasing visibility of Polish migrant workers in the years preceding and following Poland’s accession to the European Union. More than any other ethnicity, Poles seem to have become Europe’s representational labor migrants and are almost prototypically linked to immigrant employment.
In this paper, I will discuss the cinematic portrayal of jobseekers from Poland in a comparative perspective. First of all, I will compare the relatively fresh European paradigm with the long-standing Hollywood tradition of depicting immigrant characters of Polish descent. Second, I will include in the comparison fictional accounts of migration practices originating in a Polish context. The analysis will not only focus on immigrant narratives in contemporary literary fiction (authored by writers such as Aleksander Kropiwnicki, Grażyna Plebanek, Katarzyna Krenz, Joanna Pawluśkiewicz, Daniel Koziarski, Maja Wolny, Magdalena Orzeł, ...), but will also include a discussion of the high budget drama series Londyńczycy (Londoners, 2008-2009). The aim of the proposed comparative analysis is not so much to examine what these images and narratives say about actual Polish immigrant experiences, but rather to examine what they reveal about the cultures producing and consuming them and to what extent these texts and images function as sites of debate over identity and integration in a national and a transnational context.
Publication status: submitted
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Slavonic and East European Studies, Leuven
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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