Diasporic cinema refers to the film making of any community of exiles or immigrants who do not live in their homeland and have settled in other countries. It encompasses a plethora of genres, sub-genres and themes in film studies. The term ‘Intercultural Cinema’ was coined by Laura Marks, in her book, ‘The Skin of the Film’. She suggests that diasporic cinema is less ‘loaded’ than related.
Her book emphasizes on the fact that a film ‘is not the property of any single culture, but mediates in at least two directions.’ It accounts for the encounter between different cultural organizations of knowledge, which is one of the sources of intercultural cinema’s synthesis of new forms of expression and new kinds of knowledge.’
Aspects of Diasporic Cinema
Diasporic cinema focuses more on cultural aspects rather than ‘nation’ due to this, there no linguistic and cultural boundaries. However, there are similarities in terms of genres, themes, execution and targeted audience. Ethnicity, race, culture, identity, colonialism and capitalism are some of the themes associated with it. They portray the cultural and social conditions of the people and often interact with the culture and society of the country where they live. They address issues of the paradoxes of exile, belonging to different cultures and communities which often face xenophobic hate, the clash of identities, etc. In academia, diasporic cinema had become an important part of film studies.
Dysphonic movies exist in all nations. Movies like ‘Monsoon Wedding’, ‘Water’, ‘Bride and Prejudice’, ‘East is East’, ‘Mississippi Masala’, ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, ‘Mistress of Spices’ are fine examples of Indian diasporic movies.
One of the best examples is a recent diasporic movie that is ‘The Kite Runner’, based on Khaled Hosseini’s book, the story revolves around Amir. During the 1960’s, Amir’s father was a well-off businessman who lives in a mansion with his son who always chided him for not being ‘man’ enough. Amir’s only friend is a Hazara boy named Hassan with whom he hoes kite-fighting. Assef, the local bully, torments Amir for being friends with Hassan. Once when he almost got beaten up by Assef, Hassan threatened to hit him with his sling. Swearing revenge, Assef later on sexually assaults Hassan while Amir watched without intervening. Unable to cope with the guilt, Amir falsely accuses Hassan of stealing his watch. Hassan however admits to stealing the watch making Hassan and his father leave Amir’s mansion for good.
Later, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Amir and his father escape to the United States. Here, Amir grew up, got married and published his own book. A call from his father’s old friend, Rahim Khan, takes him to Pakistan and eventually to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, where he finds out that Hassan’s son is alive and in the captivity of the Taliban. Amir manages to meet up with a Taliban official only to find out that it is none other than Assef, who brings in Sohrab, Hassan’s son. Assef starts assaulting Amir, but he able to defend himself and escape to Pakistan with Sohrab. Amir takes him to the US and he finally feels that he has cleared his conscious by adopting Sohrab and giving him a new life.
Laura Marks states that even though diasporic movies are now considered as an international genre it fails to address the fact that cultural exchange is ‘never a politically neutral exchange’, instead it implies ‘a dynamic relationship between a dominant ‘host’ culture and a minority culture.’ Despite a lack of a singular theme, diasporic movies continue to be an important part of film culture and are also a strong political tool.