Does the idea of national cinema still have relevance in the age of globalization?


A national cinema entails films that are produced within a nation state, and have always been used to portray the culture of the particular nation. The understanding of most films, always have one or more protagonist, and this protagonist seek adventure, redemption or escape (Klinger 1997, p. 2).

Most nation cinemas are associated with the culture embedded in the people, however modern films show how globalization has affected people’s culture (Wood2007 p. 3). The great depression really affected the movie industry in Hong Kong; national cinema fans asked major producers and directors in the movie industry to come up with something different, new and unique.

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The founding fathers of Hong Kong cinemas were created by the Shu Tong in 1922, Nanook of the North. This included traveling to foreign places and taking pictures, and recording what was to be unknown by most people (Hugo 1986, p.70). In the early film years, national cinema movies were about discovery of new lands and expansion of the land scope. However, today it show movies are defined by the identity crisis of the protagonist and how they restructure themselves.

The film ‘police story’ a Hong Kong film produced in 1985, starring Jackie Chan is a martial art action movie was a success across East Asia and when it was translated to English it received a rating of 83%. The martial art stunts by Jackie Chan appealed to many foreign viewers. Martial art is a known art across Asia and is part of the culture (Morrison 2009, p.2)

The whole attitude of the movie is complex because it starts out with no plot and the protagonist is set to bring out a certain theme (Schweingruber 2005, p.3). The film writers in Hong Kong movies often embed the people’s culture, their lifestyle and livelihood. In the age of globalization, movies writers are approaching a system of blending the modern with ancient tradition. For example in the film, Jackie Chan holds the ancient ways of martial art, but is in a modern setting with subways and cars.

This is police story was one of the great Hong Kong movies, that end up representing the whole plot in a fusion that the feelings are actually felt by the audience (Hugo 1986, p.68). This film carries a lot of experimental and does not follow the contemporary arts of filmmaking. Chan is acknowledging for daring to explore in these movie and the unique set ups placed in the movie.

Directors in modern movies in Hong Kong have embraced road trip movies, all which seem to carry on the same theme and patronage (Klinger 1997, p.12). The theory of a road movie before was put up in a set up where pictures were borrowed and background scenes. Today, the directors trace round the world in order to shoot a film in a diverse setting (Warshow 1970, p. 37).

The road trips movies bring out the dysfunctionality of a setting, and when the protagonist want to change setting, there is even more chaos where they are heading (Kubrick1993 p. 40). The road movies were a borrowed strategy from an American film ‘Easy ride” shot back in the 1900’s that captured a different film approach.

The Hong Kong films certainly were a captive to the audience, because of the introduction of the unknown (Hill1996, p. 70). Producer of these films have discovered this as a formula to capture more viewers to the unknown designation. More road movies are still in production in Hong Kong, and these movies are quite captivating.

Hong Kong film ideology

The Hong Kong ideology constitutes that talented and hard working citizens can get ahead, and the system is dependent on a system of cultures to provide opportunities and explain failures (Weber2001, p. 31). Dreams contain what we know, what we want, what we think we can and cannot have and what we imagine is possible (Weber 2001, p.32). Dreams tell us a lot about people, they can tell us when people fell free in their minds, or when feeling controlled and contained.

Movie producers trying to convey the Hong Kong society have used the film metaphors, Davis (2001) also talks about the right to have an opportunity to fulfill our God-given talent (256). The society is supposed to be the place of opportunity to all and a place that makes the Hong Kong ideology possible (Weber 2001, p.32).

Weber (2001) notes that Hong Kong films have being portrayed in various components by Hollywood and they include (p.31); one a local setting in a remote village, the second involves a stream of anarchy as the rule in town.Hollywood has always portrayed Asian films as a martial action film that involves a lot of Kung Fu and Tae-kwo-ndo. The women appear to be also part of the action and despite submission can equally perform all forms of art.

Holly wood has portrayed a rule in Asian movies, where there is the belief of political democracy and not economic democracy. This constitutes the belief of social and political democracy but economic inequality (Weber 2001, p.34).

However, some producers have come up with certain films, that has declares the truth and sanitize Hollywood’s perception. This films shows that the Hong Kong ideology is not all one needs to succeed but there are other factors put in place that lead to success and achievement. With strong backing from the culture system, for example shows the ideology needs reproduction .Charyn (1996) believes the Hong kong ideology is believable only if it emerges when ordinary people act out the stories daily (p.35).

Hong Kong cinema system

Jennifer Hochschild notes the Hong Kong films in the global era has four components which entail; one is equality of opportunity, where all producers can pursue money, property and social resources (Archer and Hubbard, 1996) secondly, resonate anticicipation where every film producer availed with equal opportunity and resources anticipates to be financially successful (p.4).Thirdly, individual responsibility for success with successful people is seeing as responsible for their own success.

Democratic capitalism is based on a paradox, where there is the belief of political democracy and not economic democracy. This constitutes the belief of social and political democracy but economic inequality (Weber 2001, p.31).

Therefore, the Hong Kong films today in short provide a powerful explanation for the fundamental explanation for the contradiction of democratic capitalism. This shows the dream ideology is not all one needs to succeed but there are other factors put in place that lead to success and achievement.

With strong backing from the culture system, the Hong kong films ideology needs reproduction, because not only does it promote images of inferiority of some groups but also promotes equal damaging constructions that others are superiors (Weber 2001, p.33). Ideologies are believable only if they emerge when ordinary people act out the stories daily.

The writer in police story is convicting in his arguments because, of all the underlying examples given such as Jackie Chan. We see that despite Jackie Chan’s production talent it took other factors to see through his achievements (Weber 2001, p.34). The Hong Kong ideology is indeed just a belief, but people still believe in it and prefer to point fingers at others in denial instead of realizing new systems are taking over.

Critical questions to be asked as observed by Carson (1969)include; why in the Hong Kong society filming is taken in as a cultured system? Is the Hong Kong ideology in the film industry just a dream? And lastly, is education the cornerstone of the Hong Kong industry (p.25).

Possible approach practices to develop Hong Kong cinema

Hong Kong filmdevelopment comes out as a strong approach that will come up with strategies that will enable the industry community to have self-development to not only improve the quality of the films but also see through international markets (Schweingruber 2005, p.3). The following are the listed approaches that will implement the proposed development

Conscious rising: this is making aware through information to the Hon Kong films on certain issues, with the intention of the audience to link the information with them. Here a lot of dialogue is undertaken, cross producers meet and share experiences on the film production. This will encourage them and raise awareness to the other people of its effects. Activities carried out here could involve going putting up posters, calling for press briefings in public places, going to several institutions to lecture about the upcoming films.. (Binet 2006, p.23)

Campaigning: the second practice will be to embrace campaigns, in order to reach as many people at a go. The campaigns will take shape in that, they will be positive campaigns, presenting a message that is transmitted to the public as an awareness to them.

Lastly, it will take a neutral standing where the message will not be directed to anyone in particular. Some of the activities that are going to take place during the campaigns include, free concerts to attract as much attention as possible, door to door campaigns, putting up of posters and fliers and lastly inviting idols in the society to come and address the audience during the campaign since it will attract a large crowd hence many people will get to be educated about the films (Warshow 1970, p.37).

Capacity building: in simple terms can be said to be a process in which the film producers increases their competence to be better producers in the cinema industry. This involves changing the structuring, the behavior and perception of a national cinema by most people (Charyn 1996 p.304); and importantly identifying, assets and capacities at hand, particularly those that are easily acquired or in born talent which is free to all.

If the Hong Kong producers choose to sell their films to international markets, a blend of culture would be more appealing to the foreign eye. For a long time the Hong Kong film producers have taken to only embed in their culture; but times have changed and filming have a global audience.

The multicultural world of today, is viewed as a very important factor in the film arena, the various cultural heritages are very well represented with more organizations trying to comprehend and blend in the system (Charyn 1996, p.305). In order to create harmony between these cultures a lot of review has been done on the Hong Kong films with companies encouraging teams to comprise with the many races and cultural background members.

Cultural noise being the factors that undermine the communication of the intended meaning such as attitude, social organization and roles played by the organization. Language is been worked upon to improve communication for the betterment of the film making (Kubrick 1999 p.35).

In effort to make communication between members effective, the one speaking has to ensure that the one receiving on the other end understands fully what message is being put across but sometimes this process is incomplete due to cultural noise and the following cultural differences have been identified to cause conflicts.

The direct versus the indirect communication is one of the issues that could bring non-cooperation among team members where you find in one culture being direct and to the point is the way to address issues in a team (Klinger 1997,p.12).

For example, the Americans take a direct approach whenever they are raising certain issues pending to be solved whereas the Chinese tend to take an indirect approach in term of communication whenever they want to raise issues that concern them. Trouble with accents and fluency could also be problematic to team members because it does not bring one to fully express themselves in circumstances where they need to be clear and to the point.

The Latin Americans for example, when trading in English their sentences always seem to imply on as a request instead of a question. This could also be problematic to a team because you find the team members fluent in speech tend to take the lead and undermine the other team members who are not so fluent despite the fact that they are a team.

Differing attitudes towards hierarchy in the Hong Kong film industry also encourage a lot of misunderstanding where a team could find difficulty in one issue or another and may want to consult from top level management on the way forward, but the way they do this could differ for example, the Americans will go direct to their senior for advise whereas the Chinese have a protocol to follow (Charyn 1996 p.306).

Conflicting decision-making norms play a major role on the working relationship of the team where parties involved could disagree on the basis of decision making the Americans on finding Solutions tend to make decisions there and then while the Chinese feel that the decision should be made on after the organization has sat and discussed it over.

The directors in the film industry having seen these problems has to present various ways and strategies to tackle with the multiracial challenge enabling employees to work together despite of their cultural backgrounds and Cook (2000) suggests the following:

One is adaptation, whereby the director does not interfere with the differences of the team members and leaves them to solve their various problems in their own way allowing them to work out ways in which they form bases of working together (p.72).

Structural intervention is whereby the manager of the project distributes the group members in a way they are fit to work with each other (p.86). This will prevent interpersonal friction between the group members because if the groups are not well aligned it could strengthen pre existing differences

Where there is no form of agreement, the manager can choose to be the judge and overall in the decision-making, this is where teams leave the manager with various options, and he gets to choose, and this is without the team getting involved (p.94).

And lastly, where the team members totally cannot come to terms on most issues, this could lead to the exit of one of the members in order to manage the functioning of the other team (115). Here, the team member can voluntarily leave or requested to leave for the purpose of the running of the team. It is usually a last result in order to manage the team and meet deadlines for assigned project but not mostly taken as an option.

Evaluation of competencies starts with the film producer analysis,the ideas the director is able to offer to other untapped markets and what they can withdraw from the market to offer the best results (Hugo 1986 p.67). Analysing a director’s competencies goes on by looking at intangible resources like goodwill, reputation, motivation; and human resources like skills and flexibility of key films in Hong Kong.


People should focus on areas where the industry has strengths and in order to expect creative returns and notable change .a good director should know it is cost effective to outsource areas where they seem to be weaker, and that it is better to seek external advice rather than want to make blind decisions.


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