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Intercultural Cinema and Almodóvar

For hundreds of years colonization has affected the national identities of countries. Stripping away their cultures, religions and ways of life. This has lead to a mass adoption of cultural appropriation in the film industry, more often stereotyping the culture and/or identities of individuals, communities, or civilizations as a whole.

The Battle of Algiers (1966) Rialto Pictures

In the past few decades we have seen a shift towards appreciation of cinema on a national level that is directed at the hidden and misrepresented voices, a decolonization in filmmaking. One could state this revolution began to see light in the 1960s with the war drama, The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966) capturing the anti colonial struggle of the Algerian people and a brutally candid exposé of the French colonial mindset (Flood, 2021); or Ousmane Sembene’s Black Girl (1966) about an African maid who reaches a tragic end at her French employer’s home (Hoffman, 2016).

Black Girl (1966) Ousman Sembene / Janus Films

Recently, a new movement of images and sounds has emerged to reveal new thoughts in cinema. Like decolonization, Intercultural Cinema, provides works that “evoke memories both individual and cultural, through an appeal to non visual knowledge, embodied knowledge, and experiences of the senses such as touch, smell, and taste.” (Marks, 2000)

Pain and Glory (2019) Sony Pictures Classics

This progression can be reflected in the works of Pedro Almodóvar, a transgressive filmmaker, as his (early) stories blurred the lines between gay and straight, coerced and consensual, comedy and melodrama, the funny and the repulsive, high and love art. (Max, 2016). His latest, Pain and Glory (2019), is a deeply personal quasi-autobiography of himself as a filmmaker, albeit a few years younger, suffering from physical and mental instability as he reflects back on his life and the impoverished village in Valencia where he grew up as a young boy (Noveck, 2019).

These films of Intercultural Cinema will continue to redefine creative expressions as they no longer are held between opposing principles or issues but free to explore all the grey areas.


[image] “Black Girl” (1966) Ousmane Sembene/Janus Films, Available from

Flood, M. (2021) “The Battle of Algiers: an iconic film whose message of hope still resonates today”, The Conversation. Available from

Hoffman, J. (2016) “Black Girl review – Ousmane Sembène’s groundbreaking film dazzles 50 years on”, The Guardian. Available from

Marks, Laura U. (2000) The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses. Durham: Duke University Press, Pp. 1-23

Max, D.T. (2016) “The Evolution of Pedro Almodovar”, The New Yorker. Available from

Noveck, J. (2019) “Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘Pain and Glory’ is heartfelt”, Detroit Free Press. Available from

** content provided is part of a film industry study at the University of Westminster, 2022

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