“At a time when the world is in flux and the judgment of its leading democracy is in question, studies in the humanities have never been more important,” according to National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Jim Leach, announcing an NEH initiative on Bridging Cultures. “At issue today is a world struggling with globalist forces on the one hand and localist instincts on the other.” That’s also a pretty good formula for telling stories by way of films from around the world—familiar and engaging, yet strange and foreign. After all, the subtitle of the original Hawaii International Film Festival was “When Strangers Meet.”
All five of 2012’s selections for the Film for Thought series start with a literal failure to communicate. Translating between cultures is always a challenge when strangers from distant places meet. But the degree of difficulty soars when people don’t share the same first language, forcing one person into accommodating for the other’s ignorance, or forcing both people to seek out a translator.
And yet, despite these formidable language challenges, the characters in every film somehow negotiate their way to a muted but positive conclusion. It’s what most of us hope for in our own attempts at bridging cultures, and thinking about how to achieve this result is one of the core responsibilities of the humanities.
Click HERE to read the essays.
FILMS FEATURED IN 2012
SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE
THE IRAN JOB