Chapter 1: What is world cinema?


What is world cinema 

◉  “Chapter 1 offers a conceptual framework that navigates existing and emerging ideas in the field of world cinema, situated firmly in the context of its world literature and world music precedents. This chapter should allow students to gain an understanding of world cinema as a concept” (Deshpande and Mazaj 11).

◉ “Until now, students teachers, and scholars have approached the study of films made in different parts of the world under the rubrics of international, foreign, global cinemas. To under stand the configuration of new world cinema and the massive transformation that have taken place in the development of world cinema, we must locate the meaning, usage, and limitations of the terms that preept world cinema” (18)

The antecedents: world literature and world music 

◉ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe remarked in 1827 that “the epoch of world literature is at hand, and everyone must strive to hasten its approach, suggesting that it was possible to read and learn from literature outside of one’s own context 

➞ World literature would emerge through the vigorous interaction of national literatures, opening up doors to writers and readers beyond their established cultural spaces

◉ Literary scholar Franco Moretti applies the world-systems approach to study of world literature to show that literature is “one and unequal” or “one world literary system of inter-related literatures”

➞  Each component interacts with and affects other components 

➞ Incorporates a wider range of literatures with varying degrees of status and visibility, since it considers world literature not as an object, but rather as a methodological problem

◉ Unlike world literature, the concept of world music owes its genesis to a more recent past

➞ World music is an immediate and instant product of the globalization of market forces and their appropriation for the consumer tastes in the West 

➞ World music was more an attempt to showcase the hegemonic tastes of the West than about representing the musical diversity of the world on its own terms, it in turn shaped specific expectations about local and regional music styles, and influenced the kind of music that was produced in different corners of the world 

International, foreign, global, or world cinema 

International film

◉ Borrowed from the field of international relations and law, international denotes an approach that focuses on relations between units or areas

International film points to a collection of national or regional cinemas, each as an independent and distinctive formation with its own history and trajectory

◉ There is little hint of exchanges or interactions between these specific units

Foreign film

◉ The category of ‘foreign film’ is even more problematic as it circulates in various ways

◉ In many ways, foreign film is simply a designation that refers to films outside of one’s national or regional context.

◉Implies an Us versus them dynamic

Global cinema

◉ Used to account for the new state of mobility of films, wider circuits of production, distribution, and reception, and an overall increase in convergence and accessibility of all kinds of media

◉ Films that have lost their local embeddedness as texts and cultural products, and propagate the prowess of technique directed toward a vague universality

◉ Tends to imply global art cinema

World cinema

◉ Term world borrowed from world literature

◉ Franco Meretti’s world-systems approach; each component interacts with and affects other components

◉ Thinking of the world as an interactive system of constituent parts without privileging one component over the other

◉ Each film, national or regional cinema, is to be examined as a formation in itself, with its own values

◉ Polymorphic, polycentric, and polyvalent approach


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