This essay will look at three films by three different directors, all of whom are Third‐World born, European‐ (higher) educated, and whose films have all investigated the legacies and effects of postcolonialism as it relates to those having acted both colonizers and colonized. The films are made up of two documentaries, I’m British but... by Gurinder Chadha and Lumumba: Death of a Prophet by Raoul Peck, as well as the semi‐fictional Pièces d' Identités by Mweze Ngangura. Even though the latter of these directors have directed documentaries as well, of which in no doubt touches upon very similar themes as the other ones looked at here, I have chosen Pièces d' Identités deliberately in that it in its insertion of historic newsreels footage aims to transgress conventions of the single‐genre film, and that can thus remain a relevant subject in this comparative study. Interestingly enough, that particular footage is used in Death of a Prophet as well, which, again, establishes a close correlation between the films. More specifically, this paper will examine the issue of postcolonialism through the lens of so‐called “Third Cinema,” a fairly recent genre that these directors have all helped establish. In addition, I will argue that this mode of genre attempts to reverse the now historic, imperial Western gaze and instead turn the former colonizer into the critical object of study. The outcome, I will attempt to prove, is an examination of a post‐colonial Europe towards which those assimilated into it often experience complex emotions of both optimism and rejection.
But in order to pursue this study of what I deem be prime examples of Third Cinema‐films, offering a definition of what such films exactly constitute, and perhaps just as importantly explain why that genre differ from so‐called “Third World cinema” is in order. Rather fittingly, Shoba S. Rajgopal in a discussion involving Gurinder Chadha’s films offers a good definition:
I categorize this cinema not within the purview of “Third World cinema,” which, following Teshome Gabriel’s (1982) work, refers to an ensemble of films produced by Third World countries and juxtaposed against the work of First World filmmakers. But rather, I categorize this as “Third Cinema,” following Paul Willemen’s (1989) concept of this cinema as an ideological project, that is, as a body of films adhering to a particular political and aesthetic program, whether or not they are produced by Third World people themselves. In this case, the films are produced by people descended from immigrants from the Third World, and hence, they cannot be considered filmmakers from the Third World as they occupy a space somewhere in between ‐ what has been categorized as a possible third space that occupies both an insider and outsider status. (52)
Admittedly, Raoul Peck’s biography may not entirely adhere to this definition, having spent much of his early life in Haiti and Congo; still, considering how by his own definition he has...