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January 1999, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Kate Bowles <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 27 Jan 1999 12:07:26 +1100
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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>Date:    Sun, 24 Jan 1999 15:17:40 +0900
>From:    John Dougill <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject: Multiculturalism
>I'm putting together a course on multiculturalism for my students in
>Japan - it's a subject of some importance in a closed society.   I have
>a fair number of ideas so far, as detailed below, but I'd like to
>develop a historical perspective in Unit One about how things have
>changed since the youth revolution in the 1960s for a more open, just
>and equal society.  Could anyone give a good suggestion for a film
>which exemplifies the social shift in the 1960s to the new
>multicultural attitudes?

The inclusion of Secrets & Lies in your list made me wonder whether I had
misread the specific emphasis of the rest.  Are you looking for/at American
"multiculturalism"?  If not, it might be that examples from other cinemas
would not spring from the same political sources -- "the" youth revolution,
for example.  In Australia there are a number of films dealing with the
migrant experience and resulting cultural adjustments, which reference more
directly shifts in post-war immigration policy than youth revolutions.

Two spring to mind: _Aya_ (d. Solrun Hoaas), about a Japanese woman coming
to terms with her life in an Australian suburb; or the more recent
_Floating Life_ (d. Clara Law), taking an even curlier look at Australian
suburbia from the perspective of a Hong Kong Chinese family.  _Floating
Life_ is also partly subtitled into English, which is a practical
acknowledgment of its cultural mix.  Both are accessible examples of movies
whose drama emerges primarily from cultural diversity.  (_Head On_, adapted
last year from the Greek-Australian gay novel _Loaded_, would also address
the questions you're raising.)

But what really attracted me to your question was your use of the term
"multicultural", as it has specific and problematic policy associations
here in Australia, and I would be interested to hear more about the
American use of the term.  What does it mean?

Kate Bowles
University of Wollongong, Australia

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