Abstract

Since the early 1990s, illegal immigration through the Strait of Gibraltar has become one of the most pressing social, cultural, and political challenges confronting Morocco. Illegal immigration is also a highly controversial subject because it suggests that those who undertake the dangerous journey would rather risk death and an uncertain future than remain in Morocco. Illegal immigrants typically burn their passports before setting off, a highly symbolic act that implies a burning of their past and a total rejection of the present. Not surprisingly, the phenomenon of illegal immigration has served as a rich theme for Moroccan writers and filmmakers since the mid-1990s. This article examines two films that focus on illegal immigration through the Strait of Gibraltar, Jilali Ferhati’s Horses of Fortune (1995) and Mohamed Ismail’s And After (2001). It argues that Ferhati’s film deconstructs the motives behind the phenomenon by focusing on the lead character’s deception, compulsion, and addiction. Ismail’s film, on the other hand, targets the importance of local exploitation in compelling Moroccans to burn their past. In both films, events in the lives of the main characters force them to burn their past before they even arrive at the beach to set out on the perilous crossing. Ultimately, this article argues that both films provide powerful alternative views on the phenomenon of Moroccan illegal immigration that differ from critics’ typical emphasis on the fantasy of Europe or attempts to flee economic misery.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1549-3377
Print ISSN
0743-6831
Pages
pp. 74-89
Launched on MUSE
2011-05-27
Open Access
No
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