Tag Archives: cross-cultural perception

How do Italian film-makers see China?

Stefano Bona   Flinders University

Portrait of Marco Polo

16th century portrait of Marco Polo (1254 – 1324)

China has rapidly become the world’s second largest economy, and most of the clothes and shoes we wear, the mobile phones and computers we use, the bicycles we ride today are made there. However China’s cultures and peoples are still largely unknown or misunderstood in Western societies. Italy may be seen as a symbol both of the positive relations of China with the West (an embassy sent by Rome reached China as early as 166 AD, and the legacy of Marco Polo and Matteo Ricci is still thought highly of by the Chinese) and of the misunderstandings which have occurred in the relations between these cultures. Hence the way Italy and Italians identify China, its people and its culture, might be seen as a “litmus test” of their perception by Western countries.

If we add two further considerations, that film makers are intellectuals who interpret the feelings of society, and that, as David Bordwell argues, films are created to have an impact on audiences and speak to their imaginative needs, it then becomes particularly interesting to analyse how China has been represented by Italian directors who have shot films there since 1949 (the year the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed).

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The Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (ANZAMEMS)  is holding its Ninth Biennial Conference on 12-16 February 2013 at the Caulfield Campus of Monash University in Melbourne. yorkwindow2The theme of the conference is ‘Cultures in Translation’ in order to explore the many varieties of translation at work in medieval and early modern studies. Papers will deal with diversity and change in areas such as language, culture, religion, space. They will examine how medieval and early modern cultures understood translation and how modern scholars make disciplinary, linguistic and social translations in their work.

The keynote speakers are: Chris Baswell (Columbia University), Anne Dunlop (Tulane University), John Najemy (Cornell University) and Charles Zika (University of Melbourne). You can find the full conference programme here.

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