Movies: A Multicultural Experience

28 Sep 2016 BY Beatrix Clark

4 mins
Bend It Like Beckham still
Bend It Like Beckham still

What do we really mean when we refer to multiculturalism? Are we talking about the acceptance and promotion of multiple cultures interacting with each other in a given environment? About different groups living alongside but in isolation from each other? Or about cultural diversity against the backdrop of the wider world? The meaning may at times be ambiguous, but the phenomenon is one that many teachers encounter in their classrooms on a daily basis. With it comes a responsibility for educators to help instil in pupils an awareness of and respect for multiculturalism in every sense of the word, and to foster greater communication and understanding between the different nationalities and ethnic groups in their care.

One of the most accessible and effective ways to do this is through the medium of film. Whether its a primary school group visiting the spirits and monsters of Japan in Spirited Away; a secondary school group sharing the struggles of the main character in Bend It Like Beckham; teenagers witnessing the diversity of today's world through Kevin Macdonald's documentary Life In A Day; or whether it's a child from another country who finds that a film that helps them fit in, feedback suggests that the experience of watching films with peers increases young people's global and cultural awareness.

For some groups of children, a comedy such as Coming to America or Crocodile Dundee might kick-start a discussion about the challenges of moving to another country. For others, a drama like Brick Lane or To Sir With Love may have more impact. For a more in-depth look at issues surrounding multiculturalism and diversity, our Cultural Perspectives Assembly uses film and related activities to examine different religious and cultural celebrations around the world.

I have started using the Cultural Perspectives assembly resource and it was amazing. We have 41 languages and a whole plethora of religions and needs at our school, so these films and activities that explore themes such as multiculturalism, and various celebrations around the world including those related to religious and cultural rites of passage, are ideal.

Simon Pile, Assistant Headteacher, Anson Primary School

Often the mere act of coming together in a relaxed and inclusive environment to share an entertaining or thought-provoking film will, in itself, help to break down cultural barriers.

Five films which deal with multiculturalism and diversity


Beatrix Clark, Communications Officer and Journalist

Beatrix Clark is a freelance communications officer and journalist. She has worked with Into Film for 8 years and frequently writes for education media about uses of film in education.

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