Exploring images of otherness through cinema: Analysis of counter-visualities in Portuguese films
In the contemporary context, where cultural flows intensify, studies on images of otherness can play an important role in reflecting on imaginary dimensions of social representations, as well as in contesting the multiple axes of exclusion. Cinema can be a privileged arena for such studies, as it is situated between the plural universes of media and art, reflecting and often anticipating the trends of its time. In this paper, we analyse the role of cinema as a space for the construction, reproduction, and (re)construction of social representations of identity and migratory experiences. We performed an exploratory analysis of all publicly funded film production in Portugal from 2018 to 2022. In the 359 film synopses analysed, the absence of important terms such as “racism” or “social discrimination” stands out, even in films that address displacement experiences and inclusion difficulties. However, we identified counter-hegemonic images and narratives among the productions, especially considering identity representations. Three films were selected for in-depth analysis: Fruit of Thy Womb, by Fábio Silva (2021); Bustarenga, by Ana Maria Gomes (2019) and Nha Sunhu, by José Magro (2021). In the analyses, we discussed the “language of images” and how the productions portray issues such as intercultural and intergenerational dialogue, gender stereotypes and racism, considering factors such as distance, angle, and gaze. We highlight the importance of greater visibility for films like these, capable of expanding the discussion of important social issues and combating the asymmetric circulation of stories and memories, a crucial factor for social change.