In this blog post, I will attempt to unpack the complex concept of global film, specifically cross-over cinema. Dr. Sukhmani Knorana (2014, p.2) uses the term cross-over cinema “to encapsulate an emerging form of cinema that crosses cultural borders at the stage of conceptualization and production and hence manifests a hybrid cinematic grammar at the textual level, as well as crossing over in terms of its distribution and reception.”
Upon reading this definition I admit to have found it hard to comprehend. However, upon further reading, cross-over, or cross-cultural cinema is a concept that can be unpacked and delved into.
This week’s group presenters, Laura Jesson, Megan Gillman, and Rebecca Deacon simplified the definition to “cinema that crosses cultural borders at any stage of its conception, production or reception” – a much easier definition to digest. The group went on to explore some interesting disadvantages of cross-cultural cinema stating that cross-cultural films can result in countries concluding they are knowledgeable of other culture’s characteristics. I find this most relevant to the Western culture portraying other cultures. They used examples such Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and Sex and the City 2 (2010).
I could relate to the Sex and the City 2 example, as I am a big fan of the franchise and have seen the movie a number of times. However, when the group mentioned this example, I began thinking about the first time I watched the movie. This was before I had undertaken Studies of Religion, a HSC course, which studies Islam, among others. When I first watched the movie, I let the movie’s Western understanding of the Islamic culture wash over me. However, upon watching it recently I realized how racist some scenes come across. For example, in this scene, Samantha’s handbag breaks, spilling condoms onto the street and she is judged by a group of Muslim men. She speaks up for herself, portrayed as a liberated Western woman, enjoying her freedom and sexuality. Miranda briefly scolds Samantha for her disrespect, but the situation is not given the weight that a truly serious incident, such as this, deserves. In the Muslim culture, this would be considered highly inappropriate, disrespectful and even illegal. This example illustrates how cross-cultural cinema can lead to misrepresentations of cultures and can influence how ‘foreigners’ perceive a particular culture.
With this being said, cross-over/ cross-cultural cinema can be a positive reflection of the globalisation of the international film industry, but must be undertaken with research and respect. I also believe that to get the most out of a cross-cultural film, writers and directors should work closely with the culture they wish to represent.
Khorana, S 2014, ‘Crossover Cinema: A Genealogical and Conceptual Overview’, Part 1: Producing a Hybrid Grammar, p.2.
Jesson, L, Gillman M & Deacon R 2014, ‘Global Film: Towards Crossovers’, Week 5 Group Presentation, viewed 4.9.14.