What does the term transnational cinema actually mean? This blog will help address this question and bury the idea that transnational cinema is self-explanatory. Recently there has been a proliferation of writings and theories about this subject and in this blog, we hope to clarify the situation better.


The Definition of Transnational Cinema

There is probably not one definitive explanation of this question of what transnational cinema is. It is more like an umbrella term used to describe many activities and historical connections between nations and national cinemas. All this could refer to simple economic values, labor exchange and movement, the cooperation of production and technical issues, the cross-distribution of film across borders, transformations of sound and visual genres, and lastly the on-screen experiences of migration and any transnational processes.

How to Research the Subject

By trying to answer this question of definition it means that we have to understand all the multiple approaches that are needed to get a definitive answer. If the approach is to lead with genre, narrative or representation theories, then perhaps an actual textual approach is best suited to determine an answer. However, if the approach is based more on economic aspects then you will have to take a more interpretative angle.

How to Teach About Transnational Cinema

As a subject transnational cinema remains very hard to teach for a number of reasons. The first major problem is that it is still a relatively new subject and therefore there is little reference material based on the subject on how to actually teach transnational cinema. However, there is a mass of resource on national cinemas. So many lecturers decide the best approach is by a program of teaching blocks. The students also are at a greater pressure as the subject demands the understanding of at least two cultures and possibly multiple languages.

Is Transnational the Best Term?

Perhaps World Cinema would be a better description for the term transnational cinema. The problem with using World Cinema as a description is that this term is widely used as a marketing term for distribution. It also has connotations that anything that is not Anglophone or perhaps Hollywood is rather inferior. Economically World Cinema is valued more on its exotic representation of different cultures more than its entertainment value, and thus perceived as a lesser value.

It must be pointed out at this juncture that Transcultural Cinema need not be transnational and is often confused as so. It is possible for different cultures to exist in the same place but transnational is to question boundaries and differences between cultures. Another term connected with transnational cinema has been Cosmopolitan Cinema, but this term is basically just an idea and not a comment on social practices and cultural differences. Cosmopolitan may influence and can include transnational ideals and give the filmmaker motivation to produce material based around this. But when it comes down to it cosmopolitanism is just an ideology. In part two of this blog we strive to delve deeper into transnational cinema and get a closer definition to its meaning.