This course focuses on the issue of cinematic representation, which is what distinguishes oppositional cinema from the mainstream. This aspect focuses on two parts, the narrative style, which is how the story is told. And the spectatorship, which is how the audience is addressed and the options they are offered in terms of how they see a film by de-familiarizing conventions and structures that form the basis of mainstream cinematic representation and looking into the social, political, and aesthetic consequences of the alternative cinema types that constitute oppositional cinema.
In the opinion of Christian Metz, the renowned film theorist, a film is difficult to explain because it is easy to understand. Here, Metz encapsulated, in very few words, the conventional way of watching films, which usually prevents many people from critically analyzing what they are seeing. This is usually what we get from mainstream movies that employ similar construction patterns in terms of codes and conventions for their films. Oppositional cinema tow an altogether different line in the film's construction, which focuses on the aspects that mainstream films merely gloss over, thereby allowing the audience to see things in a different light and make sense of reality in a different manner.
It must be noted that no cinema is inherently oppositional. We have oppositional cinemas defined as such in the context that they arise, which could be political, sociocultural, historical, and economical. There are instances where the oppositional cinema deviates from the mainstream or dominant cinema in terms of modes of production and stylistic systems. Other times, the oppositional cinema directly challenges the conventions and codes of the dominant cinema.
The third cinema refers to films from Africa, Asia, and Latin America; a global cinema section referred to as the Global South. Movies from the third cinema rarely receive the same kind of acceptance that European and Anglo American films get worldwide. The one place where they appear to receive full recognition is at the international film festivals. Considering the select audience at these events, one cannot consider them to be enough audience or representation. The general opinion is that the widespread viewership and acceptance of Anglo American films are due to the English language, one of the most spoken languages today with speakers existing in all parts of the globe.
To address this exclusion of films from the Global South. There are groups of people, which include film critics, writers, cinephiles, media filmmakers, etc. who have been making efforts to push in more films from the third cinema to a broader audience. These people have made considerable progress in recent years, but there still exists the problem of European and Hollywood films dominating the market. Undoubtedly, Hollywood and Europe have had many legendary directors who made what can be termed as classic movies and enjoy a massive global fan base. Still, it is impossible to say that the Global South has not had its fantastic director who made exceptional movies that could be regarded in the classics and finest list of all time.
However, these movies are rarely studied despite their qualities compared to Italian neorealist, German expressionist, British Hollywood, and French New Wave movies. Films from Africa and Latin America are not usually critically discussed as a film movement even though they too started a Wave in the world cinema. Many reasons have been given for this. The major one is a role played by media in conjunction with production houses. Another is the imitation of the European and Hollywood films by local filmmakers in what can be described as a cultural co-option. This imitation is not the only reflection of the influence that the global North cinema wields—the injection of foreign capital into the third cinema by production companies based in Europe and America. Most filmmakers in third cinema countries rely on the West for finance for production and even distribution of their films. This leads to movies produced by the third cinema conforming with the ideology of the West. Although heritage films can be considered part of the oppositional cinema and produced in the global South, these films rarely make it to the global audience because they challenge the status quo as projected by the dominant cinema.
In a world where the global South has witnessed and been the victim of all kinds of societal ills, misfortunes, economic and political turmoil, authoritarianism, discrimination, social crisis, etc. - Conformity and reinforcement of the status quo is not something that the cinema is entirely comfortable with. The neoliberal capitalist system that has forested these ills in their society is something that a select group of people has continually condemn in their productions. Instead of imitating the Western narratives, a New Wave of modern political oppositional cinema is now growing in the global South that focuses on what acute exists in its society. This is based on the understanding that the cinema cannot exist outside of society. The further development of an oppositional political cinema is necessary for the global South.
The media environment is a fragmental one where certain media outlets are partisan in nature, in opposition to a political ideology or idea. Such media type gives what can only be described as selective exposure, focusing on political information that supports their ideology alone. While the Media environment, in general, is a unifying one with ideologies and opinions from different angles, it has become extremely easy for consumers to screen out what they don't want and seek information strictly from sources that align with their partisan ideals.
Oppositional media and cinema are necessary parts of every society. There is always a shift in ideology, and values and ideals never stay the same; this nonconformity is what oppositional cinema and media offer. In a world of diversity, sustaining these oppositional movements is necessary for creative development.
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