Crossing Cultures

The notion of crossover cinema encapsulates films that have the potential to become successful in international markets due to broader themes that international audiences can relate to (Gupta P, 2013). As Khorana, S (2013) elaborates, this form of cinema manifests a “hybrid cinematic grammar” and wide- ranging audience appeal because such films are not conventionally grounded in a single national or cultural genetic source, making them a success. A prime example, Bend it Like Beckham is an English-language, yet Indian-based filmmaker movie. Bend it like Beckham and notorious Slumdog Millionaire are examples of films that “occupy an intermediate space between popular Indian cinema and various cinemas of Europe, Latin America, China, Japan and Hollywood” (Gupta P 2013)

In saying that, crossover cinema has the potential to augment knowledge on cultural issues, themes and beliefs, to international audiences. However, the result and reaction to such issues and themes are quite often negative because western audiences lack the capacity to understand how certain situations are handled in other cultures. For example, the film Closed Doors (1999) portrays a young Arabian man, influenced by radical Islamic practices, stabbing his mother because she’s having an affair. Western audiences, without ample understanding of this culture and religion, ‘take it visually’ and find it quite absurd (ResearchChannel 2008).

Consequentially, we see limitations in how much international audiences can actually learn about different cultures through crossover films because we may only be shown one side of the coin. With little exposure to a holistic view of a culture, mass audiences are likely to assume the worst when viewing radical scenes such as terrorism.

“There’s thousands of hours worth of news around the globe, but they only show you 20 minutes…and what 20 minutes are they going to show you?” (ResearchChannel 2008)

We all have underlying prejudices that influence our perceptions, causing us to interpret these crossover cinema films differently to what someone else might. A Man in Our House (1961), about an Egyptian political activist resisting the British rule in Egypt exemplifies this. “The hero, in their (Western audience) eyes, was a terrorist, but in Egyptian eyes was a freedom fighter who was fighting for Egypt’s independence from colonialism.” (Researchchannel 2008). Thus, it is important for audiences to consider the political and cultural context in which crossover cinema movies are portrayed in order to minimize stereotypes and prejudice.

 

References:

Gupta, P 2013, Crossover Films: Bridging the Divid, Friday Brands, viewed 6 March 2014, < http://www.fridaybrands.com/crossover-films-bridging-the-divide/>

ResearchChannel, 2008, ‪Projecting Culture: Perceptions of Arab & American Films, online video, 26th February, Youtube, viewed 6 September 2014 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fmd4cUY7g-s&gt;

Sukhami, K, 2013, Crossover Cinema: Cross-cultural Film From Production to Reception, Academia.edu, viewed 6 March 2014, <http://www.academia.edu/3449865/Crossover_Cinema_Cross-cultural_Film_from_Production_to_Reception&gt;

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