The Art of Creating a Cross-cultural Dialogue on Screen: “The Way Home” & “The Colour of Fear”

By Julia Khrebtan-Hörhager.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Movies do not merely offer us the opportunity to reimagine the culture we most intimately know on the screen, they make culture. In this age of mixing and hybridity, popular culture, particularly the world of movies, constitutes a new frontier providing a sense of movement, of pulling away from the familiar and journeying into the beyond the world of the other. This work interrogates even as is continually celebrates cinema’s capacity to create new awareness, to transform culture right before our very eyes.

(bell hooks)

Identities are social constructions rather than natural kinds; they are indelibly marked by the oppressive conditions that created them.

(Alcoff & Mohanty)


This essay suggests a critical cultural analysis of two cinematographic discourses on cross-cultural communication: The Way Home (1996) and The Colour of Fear (1994). Using critical race theory as well as art narrative, discourse analysis, and performance ethnography, this essay will address the phenomenon of social construction of identities of cultural diversity/immigrants in the USA, using the respective films as case studies.
This essay addresses a wide range of topics, salient for understanding American national identity per se as well as the role of “cultural otherness” in its conceptualization and constant (re-) negotiation. The phenomenon of hegemonic whiteness, as well as the on-going process of Americanization is contrasted with what Gloria Anzaldúa and Lisa Flores call “border cultures”, “border identities”, or simply mestizas. Social phenomena of race, racism, and colourism, ethnicity and ethnic conflicts and struggles; as well as voice and muteness, (self-) reflexivity and (self-) healing, relations of power and privilege, politics of exclusion but most importantly inclusive communities and transformative cross-cultural communication are critically addressed in this essay.
Methodologically, this essay conceptualizes contemporary cinematography (documentary and fictional) as a form of the most popular modern art and, at the same time, a pedagogical tool, reflective of social reality and simultaneously deliberately creating it through cinematographic representation of cultural dynamics on screen.

Keywords: Immigration, Cultural Diversity in the USA, Critical Cultural Theory, Racism Whiteness, Cinematographic Cross-cultural Dialogue

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 697.674KB).

Dr. Julia Khrebtan-Hörhager

Lecturer, Intercultural, Diversity, Business, Organizational, Department of Communication, University of Colorado, Denver, CO, USA

Julia Khrebtan-Hörhager is a Lecturer at the Communication Department at the University of Colorado Denver and an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Languages and Literatures (German and Italian divisions) at the University of Denver. Her research interests include Identity Politics, Immigration, Intercultural Communication and Management of Difference, Transnational Feminism, as well as Language and Social Change. Her Doctoral Dissertation is on the subject of Inclusive European Multiculturalism.

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