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At the Edges of their World: international cinema and people on the margins

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Although it can feel marginalised by mainstream cinema, 'World Cinema' often seems to be successful in the West when it deals with individuals or groups who are in some way dispossessed or ignored. This new course looks at examples, at their contexts, at their marketing and at similarities and differences in theme and style.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No prior knowledge is required.

Content of Course

  1. Ireland: Bye-Child, set in Ireland and made with Scottish funding, Bernard McLaverty's short film of the Seamus Heaney poem based on the true story of a feral child, with extracts from other films on childhood.
  2. South Africa: Tsotsi (directed Gavin Hood, 2005), set in a township, a tale of young criminals and a uniquely South African ideology.
  3. Mongolia: The Cave of the Yellow Dog (Byambasuren Dava, 2005) 'documentary' style treatment of a way of life.
  4. Spain: The Devil's Backbone (Guillermo del Toro, 2001) a ghost story with a political dimension set in an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War.
  5. India: Water (Deepa Metah, 2005) cultural traditions examined through narrative and mise-en-scene
  6. Patagonia: Bombon El Perro, (Carlos Sorin, 2005): warm character study in a 'macho' society.
  7. Belgium: Rosetta (Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 1999) struggling for survival in a hostile world.
  8. Scotland: Red Road, (Andrea Arnold, 2006) housing estate setting for thriller genre in the surveillance society.
  9. Brazil: City of God, (Meirelles, Lund, 2002) the gangster genre in a shanty town
  10. Norway: Cool & Crazy (Knut Erik Jensen, 2002) documenting the joy of singing within the Arctic Circle

Teaching method(s)

Each class will consist of an introductory talk, viewing of full-length film and discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • understand the financing and marketing of international cinema and the label "world cinema";
  • know more about the cultural background to a range of examples of modern international cinema;
  • analyse similarities and differences in cinematic styles in relation to theme and cultural context;
  • understand the relationship between mainstream Hollywood and other national cinemas.


Core Readings


Cousins, Mark. (2004) The Story of Film, UK : Pavilion


Bordwell,K & Thomson, D. (2003) Film History, USA: McGraw-Hill.
Ezra, Elizabeth (ed.). (2006) Transnational Cinema, The Film Reader, UK: Routledge.
Bradley,Palmer,Schneider (ed) (2006) Traditions in World Cinema, UK: Edinburgh University Press.


Bye-Child, 2003, Bernard McLaverty, Scotland.
My Life as a Dog,1985, Lasse Holstrom, Sweden.
My Ain Folk, 1973, Bill Douglas, Scotland.
Les Choristes, 1984, Christophe Barratier, France.
Tsotsi, 2005, Gavin Hood, South Africa.
Cave of the Yellow Dog, 2005, Byambesuran Davaa, Germany.
The Devil’s Backbone, 2001, Guillermo del Toro, Spain/ Mexico.
Water, 2005, Deepa Mehta, Canada.
Bombon, El Perro, 2004, Carlos Sorin, Argentina/ Spain.
Rosetta, 1999, Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Belgium.
Red Road, 2006, Andrea Arnold, Scotland.
City of God, 2002, Meirelles, Lund, Brazil.
Cool and Crazy, 2002, Knut Erik Jensen, Norway.

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided.

Student support

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