Five films about cultural diversity2017/08/18
Cinema often explores topics of conflict, misunderstanding, distrust or prejudice. One Man and His Cow, one of the films in our 2017 collection, is a tender and heartwarming exploration of all these topics focusing on a regular man and his lovely cow. What other stories built around the theme of cultural diversity do we recommended?
Since its exquisite reception at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, Mathieu Kassovitz’s Hate has become known as one of the most disturbing films about the multi-ethnic tensions experienced in the banlieues, the suburban zones that surround French cities. Using a wide range of symbols, innovative shots, and an unusual soundtrack, Kassovitz portrays the living conditions of three friends (one of them played by Vincent Cassel in a breathtaking performance), each of them representing a different location and culture. Living in extreme conditions, these characters are confined by their environment and the oppressive institutions with which they are confronted in their everyday lives.
The title of the film refers to the social reality of impoverished suburbs, where the struggle for survival goes hand in hand with aggression and violence. Set France and inspired by the true story of two young men, the film has a timeless and universal subject. Kassovitz blurs the line between heroes and villains while his critique addresses institutions that alienate the youth of the banlieue.
JUST A KISS (2003)
An unexpected shift in the Ken Loach’s filmography opens the topic of socially unaccepted love. Casim Khan, a Pakistani immigrant, works as a DJ in the disco club in Glasgow and dreams about starting up his own business. His parents decide to marry him with his cousin Jasmine, who is soon to arrive in the UK. When he meets an Irish teacher Roisin, all previous plans turn upside down as Casim and Roisin fall deeply in love. Knowing his parents would never accept a white girl, he makes a radical step. Refusing the will of his family, he moves in with his girlfriend. However, Rosin is soon pressured by her religious background and her community gives her a choice: either she stays a Catholic, or she will be expelled.
Ken Loach always makes films with his team of his lifetime co-workers: screenwriter Paul Laverty and producer Rebecca O´Brien. Their topics usually combine social issues with strong human stories. Just a Kiss won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival.
IF YOU DIE, I KILL YOU (2011)
The acclaimed Kurdish director Hiner Saleem is the author of a multicultural comedy about the friendship between Philippe, a Frenchman just released from the jail, and Avdal, a young Kurdish immigrant. Saleem unfolds a tragicomic plot around Avdal’s death just before the arrival of his fiancée. Phillipe pays for the cremation of his friend’s body, which defies Kurdish tradition. MEanwhile, other characters take the stage: a community of Kurdish patriotic immigrants always sitting together at the bar of a café, and Avdal’s father, an orthodox Muslim, who comes to Paris to bury his son.
With its far-fetched title and some crowd-pleasing moments, Hiner Saleem’s comedy seems to mainly address the Western audience. Rather than focusing on the political identity of the Kurdish diaspora, the director is fascinated by Paris as the place where everybody’s dreams come true.
Set in 1835, Wallachia in Eastern Europe, the director Radu Jude’s historical road-movie tells the story of gendarme Costandin and his son Ioniţă, who are hired to search for a Gypsy slave who has run away from his boyar’s estate after having an affair with his wife. On their journey they encounter people of different nationalities and beliefs who define themselves through stereotypes and prejudice towards others. Each character represents one of many symbols which together make up the portrait of 19th-century Romania: Religion, slavery, hierarchies, and different social classes, and pre-modern familial relationships are the elements that accompany the two riders throughout their journey.
Although Aferim! is not a work typical of the new wave of Romanian cinema, its political controversy alongside with filmmaker’s stylistic qualities (beautiful black-and-white camera spellbinds) are indisputable. Radu Jude experienced his first international success, with the film winning the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlinale 2015.
THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE (2017)
The lastest work in Aki Kaurismäki’s extraordinary filmography transforms the issue of Syrian refugees into an optimistic and charming story which brings together Khaled, a young Syrian asylum seeker, and Wilkström, an elderly Finnish restaurant owner. Both are forced to flee their homes: Khaled escapes from war horrors in Aleppo, whereas Wilkström walks out on his alcoholic wife, wins a fortune in poker and takes over a failing restaurant named La Chope Dorée. They both meet when Khaled lives on the street to avoid being sent back to his native country. Wilkstörm becomes a protector of sorts to Khaled, gives him a job at the restaurant and helps him find his sister, who was left behind somewhere along the road.
After Le Havre, the previous Kaurismäki´s film, the Finnish director holds onto his refugee topic, and through his old-fashioned visual style discovers ideas of humanism and solidarity as still unforgotten in the current world of fear and moral panic. His appeal to humanity impressed the jury of the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, who ararded Kaurismäki the Silver Bear for Best Director.