Identity is very essential in our daily lives, and constructs the way we view the world, and the way the world views us.
The documentary, ‘Parallel Identity’ is basically about highlighting the ways international students from different cultures articulate identity.
The name ‘parallel’ was inspired by one of its meanings: ‘a comparison’, and also the fact that ‘parallel’ entails having two sides, which in this case are identities. The participants of my documentary expressed the differences between lifestyle in the United Kingdom, in comparison to their home country.
Taking a different approach from that of a creative artist like Jerod Wanner, I used a more theoretical and experimental approach towards my findings. As well as interviewing international students, I relied greatly on Richard Jenkins’ theory on the traverse nature of identity. He states that ‘The presentation or negotiation of identity is not always so ordinary or trivial; it can shake the foundation of our lives (Jenkins 1996: 2)’. He also makes us aware of the fact that ‘identity is often in the eye of the beholder (Jenkins 1996: 2)’. With these in mind, I created three questions for the participants on the documentary:
- What effect do you think your new environment has had on your personality?
- Are there any differences in terms of lifestyle that you have observed here, in comparison to your home country?
- Do you think people treat you differently because you’re not from here?
I experimented with colour grading by using a red colour primarily all through the documentary, but additionally adding a bit of blue to some of the footages. This experimentation is meant to trigger various emotions from viewers.
Parallel Identity not only aimed at showing the ways in which international students construct identity, but also the fact that identity can be a fluid variable; it can be multiple and ambiguous.
Identity is even more ambiguous in a foreign environment. Identity is parallel from an international student’s perspective.
Also, Jean-Claude Deschamps and Thierry Devos state that ‘personal identity is what makes you similar to yourself and different from others (1998: 3)’, while social identity refers to a ‘feeling of similarity to some others (Ibid: 3)’. This was proved in this documentary. Although international students are part of the British society, the same society made of British people; they will always be different from everybody else, because their identities are parallel.
Jenkins, R. (1996) Social Identity. London: Routledge.
Worchel, S., Morales, J., Paez D., Deschamps, J. (1998) Social Identity: International Perspectives. London: SAGE Publications Limited.