Academy Award Winner, by Davidlohr Bueso

Foreign audiences are more important than ever for Hollywood...so why are we still seeing all-white casts?

Hollywood has long been a powerful shaper of global culture. [...] But increasingly films such as “Sivas” and other foreign-language movies, including those nominated for this year’s Academy Awards, are chipping at the edges of American dominance. 

Secretary of State John Kerry went to Hollywood this week in search of ideas to counter the Islamic State’s appeal. And to be fair, he was onto something: the power of narratives and emotional appeal of stories have a role to play in beating back a hateful ideology. And American moviemakers know how to tell great stories with global appeal, as foreign box office sales can attest. The medium is right, but the message — or rather, the “American brand” — is not.

The Obama administration is taking its fight against ISIS to Hollywood, consulting with some of the world’s best storytellers for tips on how to win the battle for hearts and minds. [...] The outreach is part of a revamped administration strategy to counter ISIS’s magnetic pull for some young people in the Middle East and beyond, working with local partners, establishing a new Washington-based communications center and, now, drawing on the deep well of movie maker experience. 

Secretary of State John Kerry met with Hollywood studio chiefs in Los Angeles on Tuesday to discuss various topics including Islamic State. Kerry uploaded a photo of the meeting on Twitter, saying, "Great convo w studio execs in LA. Good to hear their perspectives & ideas of how to counter #Daesh narrative." 

The New York-based Human Rights Foundation and Forum 280, a Silicon Valley nonprofit, have teamed up to launch a program that will collect donated USB flash drives, load them with content ranging from "South Korean soap operas to Hollywood films to Korean-language versions of Wikipedia to interviews with North Korean defectors," and smuggle them into the North for ordinary North Koreans to enjoy.

Global perceptions of China are largely shaped by stereotypes. They are flawed and perpetuated by a Western-dominated media, [...] The conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group’s purchase of a majority stake in Hollywood production firm Legendary Entertainment is set to change that. There is no better medium than film to teach others about history, culture and the ways and thinking of a nation.

How the growth of China is affecting the global economy continues to be a big wildcard on investors’ minds but how the world’s second largest economy is spreading its “soft power” is an emerging conversation that’s worth taking a closer look as the country’s relationship with Hollywood continues to blossom.