In the making of one’s perception of the world, images play nowadays a very important and effective role, which can be globally recognised as such. As never before, visual communication constantly stimulates, triggers on an emotional level and influences adults, as well as children. In this context, cinema plays a predominant role. Cinema is the only visual art that can combine images and movements while synchronising them with sounds and by doing so, it becomes the most effective means of expression for reality, its emotions and its diversities. 

The history of cinema reminds us constantly how this art is deeply bound up with  business and big investments. This is the reason why today the controversy about having control over images appears extremely relevant. 

However, a less business oriented cinema, more involved in social issues and intertwined with a different idea of filmmaking is on the way. The main showcase of this kind of cinema are international film festivals, which more often open up to new filmmaking approaches and offer unusual and fascinating visions of the world.

This kind of cinema speaks out for the great (financially speaking) minorities of the world and conveys their urge of existing and of claiming everyone’s place on Earth. African, Iranian, Kurdistan, Indian, Latin American, Beur and many other film productions are gradually capturing, all over the globe, the glimpse of those who love cinema. Although most people’s eyes are still far to be captured, these film productions are slowly managing to enter the cultural scene worldwide. 

Despite the fact that these “different” film productions, strictly speaking, are still struggling to be acknowledged on the global marketplace, they play an essential role in the making of people’s perception of reality. The striking aspect of such cinema is that it is not as “loud” as mainstream productions. On the contrary, it enters the world (and the film market) with the same “modest” attitude as those who want to tell a story that comes from deep inside. The narration style is straightforward and thorough, does not rely upon  “useless screams” but the overall effect is all but “silent”. A “modest” attitude does not imply absence of complexity of the expressive forms, or lack of know-how and of appropriate film language. On the contrary, “modest” means striking right to the goal, straightforward and essentially this kind of filmmaking stirs each spectator from inside. Everybody is overwhelmed with emotions, astonishment, new experiences. A “renovated” awareness slowly becomes true. The truly significant “noise” is the one made by existence, the “noise” of cultural and social fight.

We shall not neglect, nor forget, for example, the great wealth of cultural and social fights, polyphonies, and counter-cultures which are promoted and represented at events such as the International Festival of Cineclubs, which took place in this year at Reggio Calabria-Italy (June 7th-11th). A Festival which, for the mere fact that it takes place in one of the most “forgotten” realities of South Italy, is a strong sign of cultural and political existence. 

A clear example for this existence is well represented in the documentary by Juan Carlos Arch “ABRE EL HELVETICO” (Argentina, 2004), screened as opening film at Reggio’s Festival this year. In Arch’s work we can see how all of the community members of the Helveticas colony in Uruguay find their way to fight against blind globalisation and manage to keep alive their history and heritage. Their weapons? Their shared passion for cinema and a huge good will to cooperate. This is the kind of reaction which should be promoted against the down-levelling attacks of global market, which suffocates diversity, variety and richness of each particular culture and people. 

Diversity comes to be a form of existence, thanks to the several and different technical forms of filmmaking: from experimental to traditional, from self-made to institutional. Cinema, thanks to its universal “language”, succeeds in speaking for the particular local diversities, which are not only portrayed but also projected from now on, into the future.

When cinema narrates identities and feelings, it almost seems to replace history. Cinema becomes a way to denounce traditions – their constraints, or to pass them on to the next generations – as a positive value. To this extent, cinema could be compared to literature and history and therefore should be studied in schools (from Primary to College), so that both its technical/scientific and social/cultural aspects are highlighted. In this perspective, visual education means intercultural education: cinema becomes a sort of magic box communication and encountering with which makes the whole world feasible. Studying cinema in schools could help to investigate reality and deepen one’s knowledge of it, in the same way as other disciplines do. 

Cinema, while mixing sounds, colours and moving images, becomes a window of the world enabling the spectators to find out and to get to know the self and the others. As never before there is today a need for intercultural education in order to connect different cultures with each other and to bring out diversity as value and as cultural enrichment. This implies not only acceptance and respect of the “different” one, but also acknowledgment of the specific cultural identity of each one, within the daily attempt to establish dialogues, comprehension and cooperation; within a perspective of reciprocal and continuous cultural enrichment. In this context, visual education based on intercultural approach, should be promoted and developed with growing commitment.

Laura Notaro

Born in Milan-Italy in 1973, studied sociology & foreign languages. Within the Milan Festival she contributed as assistant for prints logistics, translations coordinator and programme consultant. At present she is within a Communication & Web agency as co-editor and project manager. Based in Milan, Italy.

Giorgia Boursier

Born in 1979, Torino (Italy), studied at Torino University and graduated in History & Criticism of Cinema. At the moment she is cooperating in the editorial office of the “Festival del Cinema Africano, d’Asia e America Latina di Milano” catalogue. Based in Milan, Italy.