The article focuses on the contested notion of the (new) Europe from the vantage point of migrant cinema. The aim is to explore how cinematic language offers alternative modalities of representation and subjectification in relation to migration, gender and identity. The emphasis of this analysis is on the politics of encounter: how the presumed strangers to Europe are figurations of Europe’s othered self while also embodying the material practices of exclusion. The politics of encounter is explored in three films made by European filmmakers in which the main female character struggles to negotiate her identity in between colonial legacies and global terror, as in the British-Pakistani Yasmin (Kenneth Glenaan, UK, 2004), between transsexual and transnational politics, as in the case of the Iranian refugee in Unveiled (Angela Maccarone, Germany, 2005), or in between trafficked bodies and renewed citizenship as in the case of the Eastern European immigrant prostitute in The unknown woman (Giuseppe Tornatore, Italy, 2006). These visual and ideological commentaries participate in the redefinition or abolition of the notion of Europe by proposing the representations of the strangers within not from original and unexpected positions but by highlighting the transformation of the ‘European subject’ through the politics of encounter. The article furthermore raises questions about the agency of Muslim women who opt for religion in the midst of the self-professed secular Europe, explores debates on homophobia and the refugee’s state of exceptionalism and offers a feminist reading of the phenomena of trafficking of women.