Linking Heritage to Rural Landscapes: Two Feminist Perspectives in Recent European Film

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 134 (University of Glasgow)
Mine Eren , Modern Languages, Randolph-Macon College
My paper discusses what idea of Europe emerges in Almanya: Welcome to Germany (2011), a
comedy directed by Turkish German film director Yasemin Şamdereli, and The Olive Tree (2016), a
film by Spanish filmmaker Icíar Bollaín. The intimate portrayal of family life and rural landscapes in
these female-directed narratives offer counter-narratives amid popularity of heritage films in
contemporary European cinema. While heritage films are particularly noted for their historical
revisionism and nostalgic look into Europe’s past, I argue that Almanya and The Olive Tree reject the
idea of a shared European heritage and its commercial exploitation in mainstream culture. A striking
feature of both films is the foregrounding of the heroine’s spiritual quest for authenticity. Şamdereli
and Bollaín’s female protagonists are of the third generation. From a granddaughter’s perspective,
their stories revolve around the desire to revive and preserve their grandfathers’ legacy, in a world that
is plagued by alienation and consumerism. The ruins of an old country house (in Almanya), and a
thousand-year-old olive tree (in Olive Tree), become symbols of family ties, ethnic roots, personal
struggle, honor, and love. While urban space has been endlessly represented in European film as the
primary site of national change and progress, Almanya and The Olive Tree exhibit unconventional
images of working class history in locales that are situated at the margins of “fortress Europe.”At the same
time, both films pose questions in regard to European identity as it is
experienced under the rising “pressures” of migration, globalization, and the environmental crisis.
  • Paper_Mine Eren.pdf (4.3 MB)