Transnational cinema is a developing concept within film studies that encompasses a range of theories relating to the effects of globalization upon the cultural and economic aspects of film. It incorporates the debates and influences of postnationalism, postcolonialism, consumerism and Third cinema, amongst many other topics.
Transnational cinema debates consider the development and subsequent effect of films, cinemas and directors which span national boundaries.
A key argument of transnational cinema is the necessity for a redefinition, or even refutation, of the concept of a national cinema. National identity has been posited as an 'imaginary community' that in reality is formed of many separate and fragmented communities defined more by social class, economic class, sexuality, gender, generation, religion, ethnicity, political belief and fashion, than nationality.
The increasingly transnational practices in film funding, production and distribution combined with the 'imagined community' thus provide the basis for an argued shift towards a greater use of transnational, rather than national, perspectives within film studies. Global communication through the internet has also resulted in changes within culture and has further resulted in film transcending perceived national boundaries.
The concept of transnational cinema is important because it will be able to change how films from different cultures are approached. Mostly the approach is Eurocentric and the field of studying cinema is full of biases. It is mainly about how western culture views eastern culture.
Defining transnational cinema must be done carefully. It should challenge and criticize Orientalism that is rooted in film studies. It should be also differentiated from world cinema, which marks cinemas from countries that are not Anglo-phone as "others" and bind them in one category without realizing that they each have unique culture and identity.
"In the study of films, a critical transnationalism does not ghettoize transnational film-making in interstitial and marginal spaces but rather interrogates how these film-making activities negotiate with the national on all levels – from cultural policy to financial sources, from the multiculturalism of difference to how it reconfigures the nation’s image of itself."
The broad scope of topics relating to Transnational cinema have raised some criticisms over its exact definition, as Mette Hjort notes:
(...) to date the discourse of cinematic transnationalism has been characterized less by competing theories and approaches than by a tendency to use the term ‘transnational’ as a largely self-evident qualifier requiring only minimal conceptual clarification.
Subsequently, Hjort, John Hess and Patricia Zimmerman, amongst others, have attempted to clearly define the utilisation and implementation of Transnational cinema theories. To assist the ongoing discussions, Transnational Cinemas, the first Academic Journal dedicated to the ongoing debates, has been announced by Intellect for publication in 2010.
- Dennison, S. & Lim, S.H. (2006). Situating World Cinema as a Theoretical Problem. In Dennison, S & Lim, S. H. (eds). 'Remapping World Cinema: Identity, Culture and Politics in Film'. (pp.1-15) London & New York: Wallflower Press.
- Higson, A. (2006). The Limiting Imagination of National Cinema. In Ezra, E. & Rowden, T. (eds.) 'Transnational Cinema, the Reader' (pp.15-26). Abingdon: Routledge.
- Shefrin, E. (2006). Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Participatory Fandom: Mapping New Congruencies Between the Internet and Media Entertainment Culture. In Ezra, E. & Rowden, T. (eds.) 'Transnational Cinema, the Reader' (pp.73-80). Abingdon: Routledge.
- Higbee, W. and Lim, S. H. (2010), ‘Concepts of transnational cinema: towards a critical transnationalism in film studies’, Transnational Cinemas 1: 1, pp. 7–21, doi: 10.1386/trac.1.1.7/1
- Hjort, M. (Forthcoming, 2009). On the Plurality of Cinematic Transnationalism. In Newman, K & Durovicova, N . (eds.) 'World Cinemas, Transnational Perspectives'. London: Routledge/American Film Institute Reader.
- Hess, J. & Zimmerman, P. (2006). Transnational Documentaries: An Introduction. In Ezra, E. & Rowden, T. (eds.) 'Transnational Cinema, the Reader' (pp.97-108). Abingdon: Routledge.
- call for submissions on Durham University Hispanists Society page
- Guneratne, A. & Dissanayake, W (eds.) Rethinking Third Cinema, London & New York: Routledge, 2003.
- Hjort, M. & Mackenzie, S. Cinema and Nation, London: Routledge, 2000
- Hunt, L. & Wing-Fai, L. East Asian Cinemas: Exploring Transnational Connections on Film, London & New York: I.B. Tauris, 2008.
- Kauer, R & Sinha, A (eds.) Bollywood: Popular Indian Cinema Through a Transnational Lens, New Delhi: Sage, 2005.
- McIlroy, Brian. Ed. Genre and Cinema: Ireland and Transnationalism, London & New York: Routledge, 2007.
- Nestingen, A & Elkington, T. (eds.) Transnational Cinema in a Global North: Nordic Cinema in Transition, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2005.
- Pisters, P. & Staat, W. Shooting the Family: Transnational Media and Intercultural Values, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005.
- Shohat, E & Stam, R. (eds.) Multiculturalism, Postcoloniality and Transnational Media, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003.
- Durovicova, N. & Newman, K. (eds.) World Cinemas, Transnational Perspectives, London & New York: Routledge, 2009.
- Palacio, M. & Türschmann, J. (eds.) Transnational Cinema in Europe, Vienna: LIT, 2013.