In this article, I argue that recent Black American narratives on Netflix intersect with and can be understood through principles of world cinema. Black American narratives have long existed outside of the Hollywood conventions that often serve as a line of demarcation in world cinema scholarship. Building on Lúcia Nagib’s definition of world cinema () and her concept of realistic modes of production (2020a/2020b), I show how contemporary Black American narratives on Netflix are sustaining a diasporic perspective. Although originating in the US, its marginalized production and preoccupations with colonial dynamics or racial and geographical inequality help to regard this content as a mode of world cinema. Moreover, as In Our Mothers’ Gardens () and High on the Hog () demonstrate, these connections with world cinema have been intensified by Netflix’s production model.
An in-depth discussion with French-Egyptian filmmaker Jihan El-Tahri on her working methods and practices, which are informed by the “south as a state of mind” and driven by the motivation to give voice to the people who are marginalized by dominant media and discourses of power. By shedding light onto the ways in which she navigates through audiovisual archives to structure her politically charged documentaries, she reveals the potential of liminal images to narrate history from unprecedented angles, thus reinforcing collective memory and solidarity.
This article discusses the concept of worlding in the cinema of Małgorzata Szumowska. Informed by philosophical theory of worlding and worldliness, by thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and Gayatri Spivak, and the film theory of cinematic worlds, proposed by Daniel Yacavone, the project examines the function of cinematic world building and its potential connection to World Cinema and feminist filmmaking. Close analysis of Szumowska’s film The Other Lamb (2019) traces the role of monstration and mise en scène in creating emancipatory cinema.
The essay explores how two women filmmakers, each deploying her unique vision through the perspective of a female protagonist, stage a transformative encounter with the act of bearing witness to genocide. The Diary of Diana B. (Dnevnik Diane Budisavljević, 2019, Croatia) directed by Dana Budisavljević, and Quo Vadis, Aida? (2020, Bosnia-Herzegovina), directed by Jasmila Žbanić, both compel us to bear witness to mass atrocities while avoiding the pitfalls of turning suffering into a spectacle, and by sidestepping the predictable cinematic conventions of redemption and closure, both formally and narratively. In my analysis of the films as anti-spectacles through the framework of Trinh T. Minh-ha’s ‘speaking nearby’, I argue for the concept of ‘women’s world cinema’, a kind of cinema that is made by women, speaks to women’s experiences, and/or addresses the spectator as female while also speaking nearby instead of about its subjects in ways that eschew conventional spectatorial alignments and co-optations of traumatic experience.
This article analyzes the work of Chloé Zhao and its reception in order to explore the role of female auteurs in 21st century world cinema. By comparing Zhao to Kelly Reichardt, another US director acclaimed internationally for distinctive works of US regional realism, the essay argues that US independent women directors critique American cultural hegemony and the global dominance of Hollywood both through the subject matter and formal structures of their films and through their positioning within the discourse of world cinema auteurism. After analyzing the authorial personae of both directors as constructed in their films and press reception, the essay offers close readings of Reichardt’s Certain Women and Zhao’s The Rider, both set in the US West, with specific attention to the perspectives of central Native American characters. The readings demonstrate how the filmmakers use realism to locate a singular, gendered authorial perspective on the world.
Transnational Chinese women filmmakers reflect the enormous changes happening in the global film industry as well as political, economic, technological, social, and cultural transformations taking place in the region since the beginning of the millennium. An analysis of Hong Kong writer-director Aubrey Lam’s Anna & Anna (2007) uncovers how this film explores the divided psyche of a woman torn between “two systems” that model femininity for women in Singapore and Shanghai in the 21st century. Lam’s narrative touches on issues central to the work of many women working across the Chinese-speaking world including migration, labor relations, postcolonial and postsocialist identities, commodification of female bodies in consumer culture, cross-border sexualities, female desire and domesticity.
This article examines why exoticism is central to thinking about the global dynamics of world cinema and its transnational reception. Offering a theoretical discussion of exoticism, alongside the closely related concepts of autoethnography and cultural translation, it proposes that the exotic gaze is a particular mode of aesthetic perception that is simultaneously anchored in the filmic text and elicited in the spectator in the process of transnational reception. Like world cinema, exoticism is a travelling concept that depends on mobility and the crossing of cultural boundaries to come into existence. The visual pleasure afforded by exotic cinema’s sumptuous style is arguably the chief vehicle that allows world cinema to travel and be understood, or misunderstood, as the case may be, by transnational audiences who are potentially disadvantaged by a hermeneutic deficit of culturally specific knowledge when trying to understand films from outside their own cultural sphere.