Course Title: Reading Local, National and Global Cinemas

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Reading Local, National and Global Cinemas

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


335H Applied Communication


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2008

Course Coordinator: Dr. Adrian DANKS

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3841

Course Coordinator

Course Coordinator Location: 6.6.12

Course Coordinator Availability: Tuesdays 10:00-11:00pm; Thursdays 11:00am-12:00pm

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course predominantly focuses upon the ways in which we read, conceive and conceptualise local, national, regional and global cinemas. This topic is of particular importance to an era which many see as marking the end of certain types of national identity, and the rise of what is routinely called global culture. Nevertheless, the idea of an identifiable and expressible national culture (and identity and/or cinema) is still at the core of many arguments in support of local cultural industries. Australian and various Asian film industries and cultures have often been at the centre of these debates, particularly in recent times.

This course introduces students to the various discourses which surround local, national, regional and global cinemas. It also provides useful background materials and critical approaches for those students who are undertaking other cinema-based courses in the School of Applied Communication’s Masters by Coursework program (or whose minor or major project is in the Cinema Studies area). At the same time it provides an advanced introduction to the ways in which individual or groups of films can be read in terms of their place within currents in or developments of local, national, regional or global cinema.

This course discusses theoretical questions and issues which reflect on contemporary Asian, Australian and global cinemas: nationalism, post-nationalism, transnationalism, regionalism, post-colonialism, cultural imperialism, the relation of the local to the global, the impacts of globalisation and local conditions on the production and reception of specific films. In the context of this, it takes Australian cinema and culture as a starting point for discussing key themes and representational issues in other national, regional and global cinemas.

The course also uses individual films as a forum to discuss broader issues relating to questions of authorship; cinematic aesthetics; film-related and broader political and economic-related policies (such as government production models); as well as broader questions of film history (e.g. the relation of the Australian film ‘renaissance’ to contemporary arguments about a post-national Australian cinema, or the connections between Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the traditions of the martial arts film). At the same time it also provides an applied introduction to the process (and purpose) of textual analysis within Cinema Studies.

This course also examines cultural diversity within the scope of specific national cinemas. It is informed throughout by themes of globalisation, localism, nationalism, regionalism and cross-fertilisation/hybridisation with a specific focus on the effects of these processes upon more fixed notions of national, local and cultural identity, as well as the hegemonic role played by what is often called ‘Hollywood’ in global culture – and the role of regionalised national cinemas such as those of Australia, Taiwan, China, Japan and Hong Kong in this culture (particularly in relation to the ‘drain’ of locally developed talent to this ‘culture’ and through the development of various ‘infrastructures’ that both address and complicate this ‘drain’ such as Fox Studios in Sydney).

Some of the questions this course addresses include: What, if anything, constitutes a national cinema? Is the category or concept of national cinema any longer relevant? What is a ‘local’ film? Is the cultural imperialism thesis as applied to cinema still valid in the context of global culture? What happens to national and local cinemas under the conditions of globalisation? How can individual films and specific genres be understood within the rubric of national, regional or global cinemas? How can individual or group experience or identity be represented by such national or global cinemas? How might specific films within these cinemas address issues of diaspora, assimilationism, multiculturalism and their histories? This course also focuses upon broader questions of film culture, an under-analysed aspect of Australian, Asian and global cinemas – which is of particular relevance to those also taking Cinema Industry & Culture.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course is designed to compliment work done in COMM1114 – Cinema Industry & Culture, and COMM1115 – Film Industry: Professional Practice. Whereas these courses predominantly focus on practice-based questions relating to both film production and the film industry, COMM2084 investigates the ways in which the products of these industries can be categorised, analysed and understood (concentrating on the importance of interpretation as a means of understanding, critiquing and justifying particular cinemas and the ‘policies’ relating to them). It is also designed to act as an advanced introduction to specific aspects of Cinema Studies such as textual analysis and the study of national, regional and global cinemas, as well as help prepare students for any future active and critical involvement in the film industry and/or culture.

A basic objective of this course is to introduce students to ways of reading individual films, national cinemas and film history through practical and applied exercises, research and directed discussion (as well as apply these approaches to their own examples and experiences). Thus, key objectives of this course are to introduce students to dominant theories and conceptions of Australian, (various) Asian, national and global cinemas, histories of these cinemas or concepts, the variety and range of filmmaking practice and film culture in these contexts, the relationship between regional and international cinemas, and novel readings of specific films within each of these areas.

A final basic goal of this course is to improve and develop students’ knowledge of their own, often neglected, film industries and cultures (or to question why they may know very little about them or think that Hollywood-based cinema is closer to their own experience and identity). This course will thus draw upon the varied racial, cultural and national backgrounds of its students, while also capitalising on the immediate environment of Melbourne for much of its focus (specific industry and cultural institutions such as ACMI, the Melbourne Cinematheque, the RMIT AFI Research Collection, etc. will be highlighted and utilised).

Through this course students should become familiar with specific theoretical, historical and critical debates within the fields of Cinema Studies and broader cultural theory (specifically about notions of local, national and international/global cinemas). They should also develop a greater understanding of a variety of cinemas through watching, talking and writing about films, and be encouraged to think about these films and issues in relation to the broader concerns of cinema-based courses offered in the School of Applied Communication’s Masters by Coursework program (such as the effect of local, national, regional and global conditions on the production, distribution, exhibition, reception and interpretation of films). The course is also of particular value to those students who intend to undertake a cinema-based major or minor project.

By the end of semester students should become acquainted with writing upon and modes of thinking about these aspects of cinema (outlined above), as well as a more general understanding of what is meant by terms like local, national, regional or global cinema (and, more specifically, various cinemas of Asia and Australia).

Overview of Learning Activities

Classes will comprise a mixture of lectures, seminars and film screenings.

In general, students will develop and further skills in visual literacy, analytical reasoning, historical and critical interpretation, film-based research and confidence in the practices and procedures of university learning (and teaching). It is intended that this course will also rely upon forms of student-centred learning throughout, and consistently fuelled by student-led discussion.

Overview of Learning Resources

Prescribed Reading:
The basic required reading for this course will be provided in a Course Dossier which can be purchased from the RMIT bookstore for approximately $20.00. A small number of copies are also available from the Reserve Desk of the RMIT Central Library (City campus) for 2-hour loan.

The key film (sometimes two) to be discussed each week is outlined in the Teaching Schedule. You must watch this film/s each week before coming to class .

Various support and learning materials for this course will be available at RMIT’s Online Learning Hub.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment comprises 3 tasks:

(1) The first assessment task can take one of three forms: a short Annotated Bibliography on a selected topic related to either Australian or Asian cinema; a Short Essay which reads an extract from one of the films discussed in class in relation to questions of national cinema; or a Critcal Analysis of the reception or marketing of an Australian or Asian film (each of approximately 1500 words in length). Due in Week 8.  Value 35%.

(2) The second assessment task will be a Research Essay of 2500 words in length. This essay will cover material discussed throughout the course and will explicitly focus on issues around national, regional and global cinemas. Due at the end of Week 14. Value 45%.

(3) The third assessment task is a Reading Log. Beginning in Week 2 you will have to write 100-150 words on one of the set readings for each week and respond/reply to another student’s log entry for that week – 11 reading logs in total. Value 20%.