Diverse Love: how interracial relationships are portrayed in film: a personal journey

Master Thesis

2022

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The following paper aims to explore and analyse the consequential impact of how interracial and cross-cultural relationships are portrayed in film. It highlights the perspectives of those who have subjective lived experience within interracial relationships through first-hand research. Further explanation is provided towards how these findings have shaped the approach to developing Diverse Love, a point-of-view style autobiographical documentary depicting my own experience in an interracial relationship. To achieve this, a mixed-methods approach has been employed; combining primary academic research through small-sample questionnaires, reviews of relevant literature or media and a reflective writing journal, as a supplementary narrative to the ideas and topics presented in Diverse Love. Throughout both the creative and written aspects of this project, the core motivation has been to accurately and authentically represent my own lived experience as a white English woman in an interracial marriage with a black South African man. To ensure I was creating a piece of work which addresses a socio-political need and to recognize the context in which it will be placed, I start by briefly outlining South Africa's more recent history, with a specific focus on race politics. Delving into the process behind creating the film, whilst understanding the key themes of interracial love, we both learn about the challenges that can be experienced, as well as celebrate the positive interactions. This is further complimented by interviews with other interracial couples who share their experiences with stereotypes, and how they feel this is represented in visual media. As there is limited research previously undertaken on this topic, it was important to not only include my perspective, but also the opinions of others, to address commonly occurring prejudices. To create a well-rounded piece of writing, I also explored through academic research the themes of documentary and the topics of race. The key conclusions drawn from this research indicate a significant lack of representation of interracial couples in film and that the majority of portrayals follow stereotypes and are not accurate to the lived experiences. There is also a lack of academic analysis on films which exhibit themes of interracial relationships, with the majority of papers focused on discussing Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (Kramer, 1967). Not only that, many of the studies are situated within the context of American film or political context and neglect to represent a global audience, as well as being outdated and in need of a more current lens. This study adds value to the field asit blends elements of personal experience with academic research, within a niche and under-represented topic. This gives an in-depth and emotive result, with an overarching recommendation that the film industry can look to evolve, ensuring a more diverse and accurate representation of in the interracial relationships portrayed.
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