Institute of Intercultural Communication Homepage University of Hildesheim

Welcome to the intercultural film database!

Films (movies, if you prefer) often show interaction between people from different cultures, and they can be a great resource for anyone interested in studying or teaching intercultural communication. They don't show reality, of course, and in earlier times commercial films more often got other cultures wrong than they got them right. In addition, they often had an ideological axe to grind.

That hasn't changed completely. Modern films also tend to have a political message that they want to put across. But two things are a little different today. Firstly, there is now a greater commitment among film-makers to go for ethnographic consistency and accuracy. Secondly, there are more directors who are interested in intercultural situations. This may be because they themselves come from a culturally mixed or different background, but often it is because they are aware of the potential in an intercultural plot for exciting conflict, subtle interaction between characters, and the poetry, magic and colour of the unfamiliar.

As an intercultural resource, the advantage of films is that they can highlight, focus, entertain and inspire in ways that fly-on-the-wall documentaries can't. They mustn't be mistaken for real life, but they lead us back to it, more thoughtful about the people and cultures that we encounter.

The film analyses on this website derive from a project seminar at the University of Hildesheim that began in summer 2005. The students (including visiting students from other countries who are taking part in exchange programmes) present their findings in class and are expected at some later point in time to upload them. The twenty Cultural Dimensions outlined in the GLOSSARY provide a framework for describing and analysing the cultural phenomena, though they are not meant to be more than a starting-point for discussion. Tanja Mackensen and Björn Quast set up the database.

The contributions vary in style, scope and degree of detail. As this is an ongoing, long-term project, some of them are likely to undergo considerable transformation. We welcome corrections, additions and whole contributions. To email Björn Quast (technical queries) or contact me (matters of content), please use the email form under CONTACT.

Dr. Francis Jarman
Institute of Intercultural Communication
University of Hildesheim
Marienburger Platz 22
31141 Hildesheim, Germany