The Intercultural Film Festival, on Oct. 4, showcased Biutiful, a film directed by academy-award winning Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. The entire film takes place in Barcelona, Spain. The film follows the life of Uxbal, a man who divides his life between his children and a career in crime. Uxbal finds out he is terminally ill, and so he sets to clean up the chaos that is his career.
As the movie progresses, the audience realizes that Uxbal co-runs a sweatshop with Chinese immigrants and assists African immigrants in making drug deals. Director Inarritu makes a grand statement about immigration through these secondary characters and their stories.
In fact, one of the main reasons why this film was chosen to be shown at the film festival is because of its overall theme of immigration. Every immigrant featured in this film lived with a great deal of pain. Whether it was emotional, mental or physical pain, each of them suffered. Life itself for them was a privilege.
Society also held many biases against these characters. Spanish society did not accept them, and therefore did not aid them in any way. In another scene of the film representing these biases, Uxbal tries to advertise his Chinese immigrants, promising they are hard, efficient workers, but the employer only agrees to consider them if they worked for very little pay.
The film, however, constantly emphasizes that these people needed to come to Spain in order to fulfill a basic human need — to live a full life. On top of the difficulties his immigrant business-partners face, Uxbal is also struggling. He is drowning in poverty and is caught in a constant cycle that is breaking his moral law in order to survive in society. By doing this, the film assures the audience that immigrants and citizens are very alike; they are all in need of help, they are all struggling and they are all human.
Another reason why this film was chosen for the Intercultural Film Festival is because of the multiculturalism it captures. Multiculturalism is the coexisting of different cultural of ethnic groups within a single society. The mere presence and attention to immigrants in the film displays multiculturalism. Also, three languages were spoken throughout the film: Spanish, Chinese and Wolof — another representation of multiculturalism.
UMBC’s Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication Department endorses this movie’s encouragement for interculturalism. Interculturalism is a balance of respect for each varying culture within a society. In other words, both the government and population recognize the value of both the cultural majority and minority and treat members of each equally. Interculturalism is absent throughout this film, and that in itself is a message.
Inarritu shows how difficult the lack of interculturalism makes life for minorities and encourages the audience to prompt a social change. Every person deserves to be treated with empathy and respect. Interculturalism has a chance to thrive in every society; it’s just up to the people to decide to fight for it and make this world biutiful.