World cinema, typically used as a catch-all term for non-Anglophone cinemas or as an approach that defines different cinematic traditions merely in opposition to Hollywood norms, demands reconceptualisation in the context of globalisation and increasing transnational flows. My thesis will develop a dynamic model of world cinema as a global network of film production, distribution, and reception, shaped by polycentric, multi-directional exchanges across multiple interconnected national, regional, and international scales.
I propose to elaborate this theoretical framework by looking at the advent of three cinematic ‘new waves’: the Chinese New Wave, the New Iranian Cinema, and the New Taiwanese Cinema. These ‘new waves’, roughly contemporaneously, rose to international acclaim and placed their respective national cinemas on the world cinema map in the 1980s. Their success has largely come via non-domestic reception, through regional or international film festivals, distribution in foreign art cinema circuits, as well as appraisal from critics and scholars. Ironically, they generally received colder responses domestically, facing political criticism and accusations of self-Orientalism. All three also highlight the socio-political transitions their respective countries were undergoing, revealing how cinematic projections of their nations were a key site of exchange and negotiation involving differing parties and interests.
Modelling this exchange can illuminate a more pluralistic web of factors and imperatives (cultural, ideological, economical, etc) at the core of world cinema. By examining the interplay between the national and global contexts, between key connections across the three ‘new waves’, and between them and the paradigmatic ‘art cinema’ of the 1960s, this project will shed light on the development of world cinema historically and on the reciprocal influences of such critically approved ‘new waves’ across both geographic and temporal locations.