Transnational Cinema & Online Culture

                                       What Is Transnational Cinema?

Transnational cinema encourages a shift away from films with a national brand which ultimately would present a shift in critical thinking.  Ezra and Rowden suggest that Transnational cinema “comprises both globalisation…and the counter hegemonic responses of filmmakers from former colonial and third world countries” (2006, p.1).  They suggest further that “the Transnational can be understood as the global forces that link people or institutions across nations” (2006, p.1).   This illustrates the partnership formed between the world and the cinema; one which is joined together through several mediums such as the Internet, literature, television and other forms of new media. 

Elements of Transnational Filmmaking

The Transnational elements of filmmaking can be identified through the cast, crew and the production’s location.  In the example of mainstream Hollywood, we expect Americanisation to be prominent throughout the film.  Ezra and Rowden concur stating “the performance of Americanness is increasingly becoming a “universal” characteristic in world cinema” (2006, p.2).  Although this may be the case on the surface, the productions have derived from multicultural and multinational backgrounds.  Key film examples that suggest this are Christopher Nolan’s rebooted Batman films Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008). 

 Although the films keep within the Americanised construct, the production team and actors are from different countries.  The director of the film himself is British, as are most of the production team [including the costume designer, producer and art director’s] whilst the editors and cinematographers are American.  Furthermore, the protagonists, Christian Bale and Michael Caine are British keeping in with the English contingent with the late Heath Ledger being of Australian descent.  Does this not impose the notion that both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are British films?  The answer is no and yes; the film simply cannot be defined under one nation thus welcoming the idea of Transnationalism.

" Babel is not a film about what keeps people apart...It is initially a film about what brings us together..." - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu [Academy Awards, 2007]

Other examples of Transnational filmmaking are Alejandro González Iñárritu's Babel (2006).  The following trailer highlights the multicultural and Transnational elements of the film utilising montage in rapidly paced edited shots signifying different countries, different cultures and more importantly, different people.

 “ A film might be said to count as an instance of marked transnationality if the agents intentionally direct the attention of the viewer towards various Transnational properties” (Hjort, 2008). In Babel, Iñárritu intentionally focuses on showing us notions of transnationality through the example of the characters played by Hollywood stars Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt.  This is cleverly carried out through the mise-en-scene.  The placement of their American characters within the Moroccan backdrop creates a cinematic fusion, joining cultures and crossing borders. (See image above). 

Film Festivals and Global Recognition

Film festivals also create a culture of transnationality as festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, London and Toronto exhibit foreign and independent films to a varied audience.  Festivals merge an unknown foreign film with a well known American-Indie film displaying the diversity they are able to offer.  Festivals introduce new directors from around the world.  Contemporary Hollywood is not only home to American “big-time” directors.  In recent years, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Guillermo Del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron have become household names, bringing together the Latin and mainstream worlds. Films such as Hellboy (2004) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) have come from the creative minds of Del Toro and Cuaron emphasising how studio financed films and franchises do not need an American or British initiative for it to be a success.