The deterritorialised Muslim convert in Post-Communist Eastern European Cinema

This article analyses the Muslim convert as portrayed in three post-communist Eastern European films: Vladimir
Khotinenko’s A Moslem (Мусульманин, Russia, 1996), Jerzy Skolimowski’s Essential Killing (Poland/Norway/
Ireland/Hungary/France, 2010), and Sulev Keedus’s Letters to Angel (Kirjad Inglile, Estonia, 2011). Although set in different periods, the films have their origins in Afghanistan and then move to European countries. The
conversion to Islam happens in connection to, or as a consequence of, different military conflicts that the country
has seen. The authors examine the consequences the characters have on their environment, using Gilles Deleuze
and Félix Guattari’s concept of deterritorialisation, understood as an opportunity to produce political and cultural
change. Resettling from one religion and place into another means breaking up structures that need to be
reassembled differently. However, these three films seem to desire deterritorialisation and resettlement for different
reasons. In A Moslem, national structures need to be reset since foreign Western values have corrupted the post-communist Russian rural society. In Essential Killing, it is the Western military system of oppression that cannot uphold the convert and his values. Lastly, in Letters to Angel, the convert exposes the hollowness of post-communist capitalism. The Muslim converts in these films are subtle reminders that we can all reinvent ourselves.

Author Name: 
Ewa Mazierska, Lars Kristensen, Eva Näripea
Baltic Screen Media Review
Ewa Mazierska, Lars Kristensen, Eva Näripea, The deterritorialised Muslim convert in Post-Communist Eastern European Cinema, Baltic Screen Media Review, 2 (2014):