The ever changing representations of women throughout Asian Cinema has most certainly been influenced to a certain degree by Western culture and cinema. Both from a social standpoint, as well as a financial one, as transnational cinema has been growing. The progression of gender representation within Asian Cinema comes from a focus on individuality on a broad scope. Cinema inherently pushes a focus on individuality within character narrative focussed films and changing cultural norms & representations. Chinese films, such as Heroes (2002), a film made in the 5th generation filmmaking era, were both socially and politically focussed. Challenging cultural norms of females, father figures and Chinese cultural history. Many films being set during historical times or fantastical eras in China, rather than during a contemporary or modern era, which Chen Xihe describes when writing about 5th generation filmmakers, saying, “Though they seem to tell the stories about Chinese history, these stories are actually the manifestations and depictions of contemporary life in China.” (Chen Xihe, 2004). The use of these settings in their films allowed for audiences to be taken to a different place, and in turn see a different perspective of things, allowing the filmmakers to also challenge the roles of characters within those worlds.
To see these gender diverse films growing in popularity, both financially and socially, is a representation of cultural change as countries nationally and internationally are confronted by new representations of gender and roles. Some of this influence has reached people, like Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who has the difficulty of living in a country that does not share many of the same progressive views of gender roles as he does. Forcing him when making these gender specific films to lie to the Iranian government to get filming permits, for his films like Offside (2006). Jafar had to look overseas for funding and distribution in the United States when developing Offside, landing him in hot water with the Iranian government politically speaking, as well as for his critical social views of his own Government. While promoting Offside in an interview in 2006, Jafar addressed the type of filmmaker he is in a rationale sense, stating, “I regard myself as a social filmmaker, not a political filmmaker… But every social film, at its base, comes into contact with political issues. Because every social problem is clearly due to some political mistake.” (Jafar Panahi, 2006). The funding and influence of transnational cinema has not only grown and shared cultural values, as talked about in the previous blog entry. But has also influenced cultural and social change through this shared international exposure and demand.
- Chen Xihe. “On the Father Figures in Zhang Yimou’s Films: From Red Sorghum to Hero” Asian Cinema. Vol. 15, No 2 (Fall/ Winter 2004) pp. 133-140
- Jafar Panahi interviewed by Jumana Farouky, “Blowing the Whistle,” Time (21 May 2006): HYPERLINK “http://www.time.com/time/ magazine/article/0,9171,901060529-1196395,00.html” http://www. time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,901060529-1196395,00.html.