Cross-Over Cinema Crosses Boundaries

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).

Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon in Warner Bros. Pictures' Sex and the City 2 (2010) Source: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/still/00004000/sex_and_the_city_2_19.html

Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon in Warner Bros. Pictures’ Sex and the City 2 (2010) Source: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/still/00004000/sex_and_the_city_2_19.html

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.

Reference List

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.

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