Vol.7, No.1 | [Articles] A Hybrid Face: the Franco-Maghrebi Stardom of Sami Bouajila




The idealised embodiments of national identity have been represented by film stars throughout the history of cinema. However, stars are increasingly becoming the site of cross-cultural contestations in the globalised and transnational film industry. Since the 1990s, French cinema has witnessed an unprecedented surge of actors of Maghrebi origin, offering a challenge to the traditional modes of representation. This article explores the phenomenon of Franco-Maghrebi stardom, with a view to establishing Sami Bouajila as a new type of transnational star. Embodying positive images of integration, he has evolved from a proto-son searching for a father(land) in French society, towards a more mature stardom incorporating at once Arabic heritage and French identity. To articulate these aspects of his stardom, this article will particularly focus on the case study of Drôle de Félix, a Bouajila vehicle that opens up a greater readiness to accept a hybrid identity with ties to both France and North Africa in a contemporary context.

Keywords : French cinema, Stardom, Sami Bouajila, Maghrebi, Drôle de Félix