CULT215-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020

Coming of Age in Global Cinema

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 13 July 2020
End Date: Sunday, 8 November 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 24 July 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 25 September 2020


The coming-of-age experience is familiar to all social classes and cultures. Stories of youth after childhood are compellingly represented in films across the globe. In this course, we will examine the representation of adolescence within an international context, focusing primarily on the experience of youth beyond dominant Hollywood. We will closely analyse those films from across the globe that complicate our understanding of adolescent identity by acknowledging its intersection with other kinds of identification - in particular racial, class, national, and that of sexual orientation.

This course will explore the evolution of the coming-of-age subgenre, from the classic youth films of the past to the most recent and innovative releases, such as Barry Jenkin’s Oscar-winning Moonlight and Niki Caro’s The Whale Rider, which have both garnered awards and acclaim around the world.  This course challenges students to look critically at the depiction of adolescent experience at home in New Zealand and abroad through the lens of film history and genre theory.  

We will begin by examining constructions of adolescence in three national cinemas, analysing the auteurist styles of American director Robert Mulligan, French filmmaker Claire Denis, and Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung. Through close interrogation of the strategies at work in the directors’ films, we will discover the ways in which the adolescent’s coming-of-age story responds to tensions in cultural and national identity. Our next section will expand upon the theme of social and spiritual transformation, focusing on the experience of teenage boys and the shifting terrain between fathers and teenage sons in recent films from the US.

In the final two sections, we will address topics related explicitly to gender formation. We will begin with three films that focus on different dimensions of female empowerment and disempowerment. We will conclude with films that further develop the theme of forbidden love and loss, looking at the fantasy landscapes that allow for role-playing and escape from adult dominion, while holding a dangerous potential for isolation and tragic loss.

Learning Outcomes

  • Knowledge and Skills:
  • Extended knowledge of critical and technical vocabulary of discipline
  • Specific knowledge of a range of national cinemas, movements and forms
  • Knowledge of the major theoretical debates and discourses in film studies
  • Specific knowledge of the relationships between selected films and their social, cultural and historical context
  • Ability to use and understand a range of conceptual and theoretical terms of the discipline
  • Ability to connect visual analysis of a film with critical thinking
  • Ability to identify and explain relationships between films and their social, cultural and historical contexts
  • Demonstrate competency in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 15 points at 100 level from CINE or
CULT, or
any 60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the BA.


Equivalent Courses

Recommended Preparation

Course Coordinator

Mary Wiles


Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Textbooks / Resources

Texts: Readings to be provided on LEARN

(Image: "Spirited Away" by Exilium BB, licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0.)


Film List:

Week One: To Kill a Mockingbird (Mulligan, 1962, USA)

Week Two: Chocolat (Claire Denis, 1988, France)

Week Three: The Scent of Green Papaya (Tran Anh Hung, 1993, France-Vietnam)

Week Four: Y Tu Mamá También (Cuaron, 2001, USA)

Week Five: Moonlight (Jenkins, 2016, USA)

Week Six: Boyhood (Linklater, 2014, USA)  

Week Seven: The Dark Horse (Robertson, 2014, New Zealand)  

Week Eight: Lady Bird (Gerwig, 2018, USA)

Week Nine: Girlhood (Sciamma, 2014, France)

Week Ten: The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Heller, 2015, USA)

Week Eleven: Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001, Japan)

Week Twelve: The Whale Rider (Caro, 2002, New Zealand)

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $777.00

International fee $3,375.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 20 people apply to enrol.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts.

All CULT215 Occurrences