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What is Cross-Cultural Filmmaking?
Cross-Cultural Filmmaking involves filming different cultures and their way of life, reality and human existence from different perspectives, using a variety of methods and media. Cross-Cultural Filmmaking is usually in the documentary format and non-fiction category. Most Cross-Cultural films depict the mutual stresses and interactions between specific individuals and the complex cultural situations, courses, and settings in which their lives are involved. Cross-Cultural Filmmaking includes ethnographic, anthropological, indigenous and diaspora studies and critical perceptions of the different cultures.
What are the challenges in Cross-Cultural Filmmaking?
Cross-Cultural Filmmaking involves not only the physical and intellectual aspects of the filmmaker, but also involves the emotional aspects. This is because of the deep association and attention paid to the subjects, their everyday lives, their sorrows, fears, likes, dislikes, peculiar ways of solving their problems and their traditions and customs.
Some people fear that the making of the film and the interaction between the filmmaker and the subjects could lead to ethical problems. This depends on the perspective of the filmmaker and the main focus and goals of the film. It also depends on the responses of the filmmaker and his crew members to the different situations that are being filmed. However, the theme can also be easily manipulated or misrepresented by the filmmaker to suit his own agenda. Because of this probability, such films are sometimes regarded with a little suspicion about the authenticity in their portrayal of the filmed culture and people. Moreover, the difference of the cultural backgrounds of the filmmaker and the subjects could also skew the film and give it a false or different meaning.
On the positive aspects, the filmmaker would be able to reach the attention of a large number and variety of audience through his work as people prefer watching films, even documentaries, to reading academic publications on ethnography. The films capture the lives and culture of the subjects permanently on film and this has a lasting impact on the filmmaker as well as on the audience. Barbash and Taylor (1997) say, “That’s what is so special about film: it’s linked absolutely, existentially to its object, a photochemical permeation of the world”.
Why is this known as Cross-Cultural Filmmaking?
The name Cross-Cultural Filmmaking is apropos as it involves people from different cultural backgrounds like that of the filmmaker and his crew, of the subjects of the film (which can sometimes feature more than one culture) and of the audience wherever the film is screened. All this cross-cultural interactions serve to enhance our understanding and appreciation of cultural differences and similarities all over the world.
Some filmmakers well-known in the Cross-Cultural Filmmaking genre
Some filmmakers who are famous for their work in Cross-Cultural Filmmaking are: Robert Flaherty, Alberto Cavalcanti, Luis Buñuel, Dziga Vertov, Maya Deren, Jean Rouch, Kidlat Tahimik, Robert Gardner, Shanti Thakur, Ross McElwee, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Marilu Mallet, and Zacharias Kunuk.
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