What is world cinema?

When the villain Elektra King tells James Bond “I could have given you the world,” he replies coyly with the line that gives the film its title: “The world is not enough.” But what does “the world” mean anyway? Is, as Bond might imply, the world actually smaller than something more tangible? In some ways, these questions are being confronted by studies of “world cinema”: what happens to our grasp of “world culture” when we reduce it to studying one place – or, perhaps, one film? And what happens to our perspective when we take those individual close readings and join them back together?

Inspired by ideas articulated by Dudley Andrew, Franco Moretti and Catherine Grant and modeled after the journal [in]Transition, this collection of video essays propose answers to those questions. Crafted by first-year students for a Complex Problems class within a living-learning community (AU Scholars in Fall 2018, University College in Spring 2015 and Fall 2019, AU Honors in Fall 2020, 2021, and 2022) at American University, each video essay closely examines a single contemporary film from a different country; each comes accompanied by a short crafter statement. Taken as a group, they attempt to answer the question: what is world cinema today?

Browse through the collections. And let us know what you think: comments are available below, and on each of the individual pages.