Italian Studies in Southern Africa/Studi d'Italianistica nell'Africa Australe

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Depicting the Italo-Australian migrant experience down under: Images of estrangement in the cinema of giorgio mangiamele

R Lampugnani


Giorgio Mangiamele is widely regarded as the most significant first-generation Italo-Australian filmmaker of the post-war period. Indeed, as many critics have affirmed, Mangiamele’s films of the fifties and sixties are fundamental for an
accurate reading of Australian cinema ‘in terms of its multiple representations of the non-Anglo Celtic migrant’. Yet, in spite of Giorgio Mangiamele’s innovative contribution and efforts and in spite of his attempts to be accepted into Australian mainstream cinema by adopting English dialogue and Australian characters in many of his films, he remained marginalised as an ethnic filmmaker, achieving recognition and some financial support from Film Victoria only towards the end of the nineties. As was revealed clearly on many occasions before his death, angiamele deeply felt this lack of success and the constant rejection by the Anglo-Australian establishment. This study argues that Mangiamele’s sentiment of repudiation and his sense of alienation
are expressed in his films through images of closure, separation and distance and through situations depicting oppression and persecution, loss, derision and absence. Such iconic metaphors are apt not only to express the filmmaker’s own perception but also the migrant’s condition in Australia in the immediate post-war period.

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