American movies, like American culture in general, have a way of dominating abroad, shaping local tastes and expectations with their omnipresence. Rare is the foreign film that dares to come to America in search of anything more than a tiny niche audience of cinematic connoisseurs. Many distributors have, as a result, simply stopped trying. Fox Searchlight, however, thinks it has found a winner in Nochnoi Dozor (Night Watch), a movie that took Russia by storm in 2004. The American company has obtained U.S. distribution rights to the movie and its sequel Day Watch, and has gone so far as to finance the costs of shooting the trilogy's third installment. The hope is that, for once, the crossover appeal will go in the other direction, with Americans embracing a film shot by and for foreigners.
The story of the Tipton Three's detention when they returned to Britain from the Berlin Film Festival is making waves everywhere, including the other side of the Atlantic, where The Road To Guantanamo has just been signed for distrbution. The Nation, a US publication which makes "an earnest effort to bring to the discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit" has given Netribution permission to republish this article from their 10th of March on-line issue.
Is film a fair reflection of the society that creates it, if as fiction, not quite a faithful one? Or does film project an image of its own? And what of other cultures? Does Bollywood reflect india, or does it project India?
Vir Sanghvi thinks he has found the answer.....
All societies have their individual social customs; things seen as fine and normal in once country may well be taboo in another. Sex portrayed on screen may be tolerated in some countries but is likely to cause social and moral outrage in others - and we may not be talking placard protests here. In some societies outrage takes more dynamic shape than waving banners of protest. Offend if you dare. Such social constraints might frustrate a Hollywood director, but other film faiths have found their own routes to salvation when faced with the unportrayable. Here's an object lesson in filming across faiths from one of the hottest talents in Nollywood, which is what Nigeria's growing low budget industry likes to style itself. Nigeria is a country that can be divided by faith. Traditional and Christian faiths in the southern, coastal provinces of the country, but the North is a land of Islam. Here,in common with most of North and West Africa, Sharia law governs everything, including social customs and what may be seen as entertainment on screen and what may not.
Paradise Now, the Oscar-nominated film directed by Hany Abu Assad, is the first feature film to take on the theme of suicide bombers. It is a film that plays across a hugely emotional landscape which inevitably polarises people. For every terrorist there are victims, for every oppressed person, there are martyrs: it all depends on your viewpoint....
Khaled and Said, two young Palestinians, friends since childhood, have been selected for a mission as suicide bombers in Tel Aviv. For one night, they are permitted to visit their families in Nablus, to spend with those they love what is likely to be the last night of their young lives. They tell no-one of their plans, so they don't really take their final leave of their relatives. The next morning, they are brought to the Israeli border. They carry the bombs concealed on their bodies.