Accented cinema

Accented Cinema has been theorised by Iranian scholar of exile and diasporatic media studies, Hamid Naficy. Naficy separates the term ‘Accented’ from global cinema, as he brands it as a unique form of cinema which specifically focuses exile and diaspora people, pursuing the themes of culture in regards to spatial locations ‘As such, the best of accented films not only signify and signify upon the conditions of exile and diaspora-and deterritorialization in general, but also upon cinema itself’ (Naficy, in Egoyan and Balfour, 2004,p134 ). Accented cinema generally aims to break down cultural boundaries, by exhibiting various cultures around the world, and cinema accommodates this ‘deterritorialization’ by enabling global access and awareness. Naficy highlights the simultaneous objectives of accented cinema between the theoretical and technical motives ‘are consecutively linked because both are driven by distance, separation, absence, and loss, as well as the desire to bridge these multiple gaps’ (Naficy, cited in Egoyan and Balfour, 2004,p134 ). Theoretically, typical themes within Accented cinema represent the displacement of people and the discourse of national identity, through the historical exploration of the social or cultural reasons for the departure from their homeland. Accented cinema conventionally emanates from exilic or diasporic film-makers living in a western society, usually as an ethnographic project to present a story of journey. The journey from homeland to the final destination is often one which embarks on loss of national identity, displacement and confusion as Suner states that Accented film revolves ‘around home-seeking, homelessness and/or homecoming journeys, accented films are deeply concerned with the issues of territorality, rootedness and geography’ (Suner, 2006, 368). Naficy’s theorization’s of Accented cinema directly reflects my intentions for my documentary, as although as the filmmaker I am not in exile, however being a part of an Iranian diaspora I have lived in a family environment where the duality of cultures has played a large role in my upbringing, shaping my understanding towards varying cultures. Therefore for me, this could be viewed as a semi-ethnographic project as being exposed to two different cultures but being rooted in the UK, has triggered my interest in the emotions linked to Diaspora communities, trying to stay in touch with the culture from the motherland, in a society which it is not the dominant culture- something I have never had to experience.

Epistolary, the use of written word has been strongly associated with Accented cinema, as an additional way for the audience to access the viewpoints of the onscreen subjects, as Naficy believes it ‘enhances the works verisimilitude and psychological depth’ (Naficy cited in Egoyan and Balfour, 2004, p135). Subtitles in this sense welcome the audience into a completely different world or way of life by allowing the speech of the subject to be heard and acknowledged, instead of being dubbed and masked. This provides the audience with a stronger sense of reality enabling them to engage with the subject, furthermore contributing to the construction of the filmmakers desired emotions evoked from the audience. By including subtitles, I feel that I opened the door for english speakers to understand the journey the family in the documentary have experienced- diminishing the language barrier to widen the cultural boundaries.


Naficy, H,  Epistolarity and Textuality in Accented Film in Egoyan, A. and Balfour, I. (eds.) (2004) Subtitles: On the foreignness of film. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Suner, A. (2006) ‘Outside in: “Accented cinema” at large’, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 7(3), pp. 363–382.


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