I had never thought about international or foreign films to like a film themselves, comparing them to those of alien movies, where they invade and take over or they have been among us all along. The theory of “us and them” and “us and us” (Evans 2013). While the United States isn’t even the top country with major film production, nor does it come in second, but third, we are bombarded with it as being the norm and accepted “genre” of film to watch. As Asian, America and Australian movies are not included as foreign film, we are left with European (mostly Western) and some Canadian which are said to be the left overs that don’t belong anywhere else (Byrne 1999).
This divide and definition of what makes a film ‘foreign’ or ‘international’ is creating a homogenized cinematic environment where media capitals of the world are turning us into products of transnational corporations essentially. Hollywood in particular used “soft power” and wiped out many local film industries with their many spectacular films. The alien analogy is evident here with the Chinese film industry imposing strict quotas for foreign films and unique censorship regulations. But during the 1920s, film technicians from the United States trained Chinese technicians in Shanghai and American influence continued to be felt there for the next two decades. As a result of globalisation and creatives seeking out other creatives in media capitals, along with enlarged quotas post 1995, the Chinese film industry saw Hollywood films trickling in.
The paradigm shift towards transnational films I believe results in a positive effect, enabling the production of more rich, diverse and culturally hybrid films. Transnational cinema encourages a shift away from films with a national brand and instead capitalizes on many aspects and elements of various cultures. With this hybridity of world cinema comes great confusion though as to how a film is claimed or originates from a particular country. Is an Australian film Australian because of its actors? Or its director? Or simply because it was shot and/or produced here? This I do not know. Many successful movies have this dilemma, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which has a crew of Chinese and Australians, a Chinese martial arts genre and leads actors speaking Mandarin when it isn’t their preferred language. Or The Great Gatsby 2013 for example which was written and directed by Aussie Baz Luhrmann but had actors from the U.S
but also Australia as well.
Modern movies can not and should not be classified on their origin. It becomes too difficult to define a movie as either an Australian, Chinese, Indian or Nigerian film when elements from across borders are incorporated. So instead of calling ‘foreign’ films world cinema, maybe it is more appropriate for them to be films of the world. Or as it seems, majority of todays films could be classified as films of the world due to the many cultural elements they have embedded in them already.