World cinema  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

World cinema is a term used primarily in English language speaking countries to refer to the films and film industries of non-English speaking countries (those outside of the Anglosphere). It is therefore often used interchangeably with the term Foreign film. However, both World cinema and Foreign film could be taken to refer to the films of all countries other than one's own, regardless of native language.

Technically, foreign film does not mean the same as foreign language film, but the inference, particularly in the U.S., is that a foreign film is not only foreign in terms of the country of production, but also in terms of the language used.

As such, the use of the term foreign film for films produced in the UK, Australia, Canada or other English speaking countries would be uncommon.

In other English speaking countries, it would be extremely unlikely to class films made in the U.S. as foreign films, or belonging to World cinema, as American films are reasonably dominant in all English-language markets.

World cinema has an un-official implication of films with "artistic value" as opposed to "Hollywood commercialism." Foreign language films are often grouped with "Art House films" and other independent films in DVD stores, cinema listings etc. Unless dubbed into one's native language, foreign language films played om English speaking regions usually have English subtitles. Few films of this kind receive more than a limited release and many are never played in major cinemas. As such the marketing, popularity and gross takings for these films are usually markedly less than for typical Hollywood blockbusters. The combination of subtitles and minimal exposure adds to the notion that "World Cinema" has an inferred artistic prestige or intelligence, which may discourage less sophisticated viewers. Additionally, differences in cultural style and tone between foreign and domestic films affects attendance at cinemas and DVD sales.

Foreign language films can be commercial, low brow or B-movies, so to automatically assume that World cinema is "arty" or intellectual is erroneous. Furthermore, foreign language films can cross cultural boundaries, particularly when the visual spectacle and style is sufficient to overcome people's misgivings. Films of this ilk are becoming more common, and recent examples such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Amelie enjoyed great success in Western cinemas and DVD sales. The first foreign language film to top the North American box office was Hero in the fall of 2004.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "World cinema" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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