Family communication and culture as reflected in selected Chinese and Philippine contemporary films

Wang Chen

Graduate School

Abstract: International relations between China and the Philippines call for understanding of each other’s culture to improve their cross-cultural communication. Family culture is an essential part of national culture, and this is reflected in some films which are a part of literature. This research identified two Chinese films (The Farewell, End of Summer) and two Filipino films (Thelma, Four Sisters and a Wedding) as objects of study to analyze the similarities and differences of the family culture of the two countries, together with the dimensions of Chinese family and Filipino family communication reflected in the films. The cinematic devices of these films that reflect the family culture were also analyzed. In analyzing the films, the researcher applied sociological criticism, literary criticism, cultural criticism, family communication patterns theory, and multimodal discourse analysis of academic film criticism. Analyses of the films showed comparable features of Chinese and Filipino family which include the extended family system, giving selflessly for the family, imposing discipline on children, traditional gender roles, filial piety, comparison between siblings, and unfair treatment by parents. Contrastive features include difference in filial piety, family face and honor, emotions expressing towards family members, parental control of children, traditional culture of wedding and funeral, and conflict between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Dimensions of Chinese family and Filipino family communication are reflected in the films. Both Chinese families in films are protective but the Filipino families are consensual families. Cinematic devices such as camera shots, sound, and lighting further reflect the family culture of both countries.

Keywords: family culture, literary criticism, communication patterns, family communication, cinematic devices