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Bridging Cultural Gaps with Film

From the desk of Mango Writer Jillian Rodriguez:

There’s no place like Hollywood. But do you ever get the feeling that we’ve become a little too comfortable with all the glitz and glam of Tinseltown? Whether its crazed celebrity obsessions or cult-like fandom for the latest blockbuster (Hunger Games, anyone?), a lot of good can come when we take five from Hollywood and turn our attention to international cinema. In fact, watching international films is one of the most accessible and simple ways to cross culture lines and get to know another country. So, load up a foreign film and enjoy the show. If you’re worried about finding a new poster pin-up for your bedroom wall, fear not – casting babes in films is an international phenomenon.

Language learning through film.

Cultural Interaction

America’s film industry is an international powerhouse and, understandably, it tends to dominate American movie watching and limit our exposure to international films. However, American and European films are regularly incorporated into the culture of other countries, which introduces other countries to Western culture, history, and social issues. A successful interaction is a two-way street, and that’s especially true for cultural interactions. Our overseas friends are building up their bi-cultural power, and the benefits are endless. By watching international films, you’re not just getting familiar with another culture; you’re relating to it and enjoying it through active engagement, which greatly increases retention. Cross cultural interactions open up doors in every arena of your life, and improve professional, social, and academic relations. And while we’re talking interactions, switching to culturally informed pick-up lines will get you way more phone numbers.

Cultural Awareness

As any traveler knows, the most difficult aspect of picking up a new culture is the small nuances of everyday life. Things like verbal and non verbal communication, politically loaded triggers, and showing respect are crucial to successful integration – but it doesn’t come easily. International films are an All Access Pass to understanding the country’s day to day cultural and social norms. A film exposes viewers to the culture’s authentic beliefs, experiences, and habits, and it’ll answer a lot of questions about your destination’s cultural expectations. Keep a notepad handy and jot down what you see during the film, and use the notes to guide your research. If you don’t like the idea of writing things up yourself, we’ve done the work for you by providing Culture Notes across all of Mango’s courses.

Global Citizenship

In certain parts of the world, some people are less than thrilled to have movies like Catching Fire and High School Musical taking their country by storm. In fact, a collaboration between Disney and Chinese producers on a Chinese version of High School Musical fell flat after cultural differences interfered with the film’s success. In China, high school is less about socializing, singing, and dancing, and more about studying vigorously and preparing for college. If American producers had done their cultural homework in understanding what makes a film successful in China, the collaboration could’ve had great results for both countries, and chipped away at China’s concerns towards Western culture’s negative influence.

Global citizenship is a genuine engagement with the world around you. All around the globe, people are releasing films that provide an insightful glimpse into events and human experience happening all around the world. That said, the world is really big and there are a lot of movies out there – and we’ll be honest, some of them are pretty bad. We’ve rounded up high quality, highly entertaining movies from around the world, and representing every genre. Romance? We’ve got it. Action? Check. Thriller? Definitely. All you have to do is show up.

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