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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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‘Weirdness’, Modernity and the Other Europe in Attenberg (2010, Athina Rachel Tsangari)

‘Weirdness’, Modernity and the Other Europe in Attenberg (2010, Athina Rachel Tsangari)

(p.159) Chapter 10 ‘Weirdness’, Modernity and the Other Europe in Attenberg (2010, Athina Rachel Tsangari)
East, West and Centre

Jun Okada

Edinburgh University Press

Drawing on Anikó Imre's critique of racism in the European context and call for a more inclusive and complex understanding of “whiteness,” this chapter examines new definitions of European identity, racial and otherwise, in a recent example of the “Greek New Wave,” Attenberg (2010, Athina Rachel Tsangari). Contextualized as continuing in the tradition of (Western) European art cinema, Attenberg is a conventional and “universal” coming of age story about a 23 year-old virgin dealing with the imminent death of her father while figuring out her sexuality. At the same time, the film is also deliberately self-conscious about the fact that this tradition of European art cinema unquestionably traces its origins and continued dominance, not in Greece, but in Western Europe, specifically, France. Therefore, while it appears as yet another exemplar of so-called European art cinema, Tsangari's film challenges the primacy of the so-called “West” by meditating on the tension and ambiguity of Greek national identity, which is at once linked to being a Balkan nation, an integral part of the modern European Union, and the seat of classical Western civilization. In other words, Attenberg, specifically, and the “new Greek cinema” in more general terms, offers an opportunity to challenge the meaning of Europeanness through its meditation on the tensions that hold up the divisions of the Balkans and Europe, Greek cinema and French cinema, whiteness and non-whiteness, and modernity and postmodernity.

Keywords:   Greek cinema, Europe, Balkans, National identity, Art cinema, sexuality

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