Transnational Cinema from Alina Ross's blog

Transnational cinema is a complex way of thinking about cinema globally paying attention to its production, casting, narration, tools of making, market, goal, and audience. Transnational cinema eliminates borders between nations, mix cultures, and moves through the countries, genres, and styles. According to Ezra and Rowden, the concept of transnationalism enables us to see how the movie production has changed globally and how filmmakers tend to make a viewer see the picture from a perspective of a particular nation or interactions between its representatives. Transnationalism points out to some specific features of nation, country, or ethnic group; at the same time, it may make the difference between them obscure (Ezra and Rownes 1). Thus, transnational cinema is a phenomenon that is opposite to mainstream cinema (like Hollywood industry, for instance), however still influenced by it being a new combination of tastes. Transnational cinema can be recognized via different categories such as cultural exchange, globalization, budget, and cast, which we are going to discuss further based on the movie by Mexican director Eugenio Derbez Instructions Not Included.

This movie is a production of Pantellion Films which calls itself the first major Latino Hollywood studio. As the company is situated in the U.S. and funds are coming from there, it might be considered as one of Hollywood branches; however, the goal of the company is to make movies for Spanish and Mexican diaspora in the U.S. and popularize Latino cinema. Instructions Not Includedfrom the first sight looks like a typical Hollywood comedy, which includes metamorphoses of the main character who realizes the sense of his/her life, love story, etc. However, more than a half of cast are Mexican people among other actors who are originally Americans. Therefore, we can see transnationalism in a cast crew. Besides, both English and Spanish languages are used in the movie. The main character lives 7 years in the U.S. still has not learnt English. He says that he never liked it, though his life is in Los Angeles. This moment shows national skepticism of Mexican people towards the English language. They prefer living in their communities even being in immigration and are not very willing to assimilate.

Interesting national element is shown in the scene of communication between Valentin and small Maggie on his way from Acapulco to Los Angeles. Valentin describes Mexico as a country of problems, and if she grows here, she will be dark-skinned, accused by policemen, probably corrupted, etc. On the other hand, living in Los Angeles, she will grow up in a tall pretty blue-eyed blondie and be happy. It is a stereotype vision of poor Mexican people about the life abroad, namely in the U.S. which they regard as a paradise full of all the possible miracles where the previous problems will be forgotten. Definitely, it is not true, and further we can see it in the movie. Valentin has to cope with different problems most of Mexican immigrants face.

It is an interesting fact that Eugenio Derbez, who is also screenwriter, refers to so-called American dream, when being nothing, you can become very rich, successful, and overcome your fears. Being a coward, Valentin from a poor Mexican immigrant family becomes a quite successful stuntman. In this aspect, there mingled two different aspects as Mexican immigration and vision of the world was overwritten by American dream model, which in Hollywood movies is mostly promoted by Americans. Other nations usually play side roles.

Will Higbee points out that “transnational movies are characterized by issues of migration, loss and displacement that leads to identities in flux which challenge the stable concept of the national” (Higbee 3). We can observe this on the example of Valentin, who even not knowing language became a successful member of foreign society. It is hard to determine whether it is Hollywood influence or the goal to show the strength of Mexican immigrants. They can not only live in ghettos or work as physical workers in some shops; we accept Valentin as a typical representative of American society not paying attention to his national background.

One of the categories to speak about transnational movie is the geomarket volume. Instructions Not Includedhas been released in the U.S. cinemas and became the highest-grossing Spanish-language movie in the U.S with a box office in 45 million USD. It overcame borders of Latin quarters and interested all the other national minorities who are settled in the country. In Mexico, this movie also bit the records and accumulated 25 millions of dollars. Globally, the movie collected 100 million dollars. It means that story which was not told by mainstream Hollywood, without first world super stars or directors could appeal to people and be interesting for them. Thus, transnationalism connects people from different parts of the world and layers of the society. Besides, actors who participate in such projects make the audience aware that such multicultural work and exchange of experience is worth good results to better understand and accept other nations. Besides, it widens the horizons and brings to the audience a new quality product.

Therefore, we can call Instructions Not Includeda good sample of a transnational cinema. As this notion is very global and mainly brings together elements from different countries and cultures, we definitely can refer this movie to such category. There is a multinational cast showing different aspects of life both in Mexico and North America. The film was funded by American budget but shot for Latino diaspora; besides, it conquered both markets and was interesting for representatives of both nations. All these categories give us the right to call the movie transnational. From our perspective, it is not possible to say that some of the elements were more transnational than others as this movie is very global. The main story covers mainly human factors rather than national.

In conclusion of this film critique essay, transnational cinema is developing very fast and soon will become an inevitable part of cinematography. General globalization helps to travel more, exchange experience, invite international actors or directors, consider in movies understandable things that many people came across in their lives as compared to the past times when different information walls limited people’s awareness of what is happening beyond their small communities. We have discussed one of the samples of transnational cinema and realized how many components it may have to become a really precious example.

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