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East, West and CentreReframing post-1989 European Cinema$
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Michael Gott and Todd Herzog

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748694150

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694150.001.0001

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Changing Sides

Changing Sides

East/West Travesties in Lionel Baier’s Comme des voleurs (à l’est)

(p.37) Chapter 2 Changing Sides
East, West and Centre

Kris Van Heuckelom

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter takes as its point of departure the Francophone Swiss road movie Comme des voleurs (à l’est)/Stealth (Lionel Baier, 2006), a film which – for a variety of reasons – seems to be quite untypical in its engagement with the shifting East-West divide after 1989. First of all, Baier combines within a single narrative various aspects of both ‘travelling’ and ‘trafficking’ along the East/West axis: while the first part of the film largely revolves around the encounters between the Swiss main character (Lionel Baier, played by the director himself) and an undocumented Polish au pair (Ewa), the second part of the film shifts focus to a turbulent road trip from Lausanne to Warsaw undertaken by the protagonist and his sister Lucie. What is more, although both portions of the film – at least at first sight – seem to be in line with the bulk of European films dealing with post-89 migration and transnational mobility, Baier's authorial approach adds a particular twist to various narrative tropes and cinematic conventions that characterize the on-screen treatment of East/West encounters.

Keywords:   Trafficking, Road movies, Swiss cinema, Poland, Migration, French-language European Cinema, Eastern Europe

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