Reading a Cake

This week in BCM320 we, as a class watched the 2018 Pakistani Film, Cake. Cake follows Zareen as her parents health issues bring her siblings Zara and Zain from their jobs and lives overseas. During the film they deal with loss, re-discover old loves and un-cover a long buried family secret that changes Zara’s perspective on her past. The film was very well received internationally and domestically in Pakistan, even having many of the main cast being nominated at the 2019Lux Style Awards, a Pakistani award ceremony dedicated to cinema, television, fashion and music in Pakistan.

While i overall enjoyed the film, i did find it was a bit long and having to also live tweet at the same time, made it a bit hard to keep up with such a dialogue heavy story. This thought is one i have had in most of the screenings during this class so far, and so in the spirit of Autoethnographic studies, i am going too use this personal experience to better understand a cultural experience. Having to watch a media in another language is not a unique experience, and neither is using subtitles for media in your native language. Wired states that subtitles have been around since the early 1970’s and they have been essential for deaf people and English language learners alike. After winning the Oscar for best picture in 2020, director Bong Joon Ho, stated ““Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,”.

After watching Cake, i have to agree with him. While i don’t have any experience with or many knowledge of Pakistani culture, the themes of love, loss and family can be easily translated across cultures and into English. The relationships that she has with her siblings was something i could understand greatly, having a younger brother close in age to me.

Another thing that comes up in the film is the younger sister, Zara’s martial status and the pressure she feels from others to have children. During the film when she is at a family party, Zara is asked by a group of women when she will be having kids while they are discussing how having children changed their lives, one woman even stating “i finally feel significant”. The only issue is that Zara doesn’t want to have children, even saying that was one of the reasons her last relationship ended. While Australia and Pakistan have different cultures, this conversation is one that a lot of women, who do or don’t want children experience, and that, jumps clear over the “one inch-tall barrier of subtitles”. The same goes for many other experiences the characters have during the film. Cake was a great experience jumping those barriers while still getting a glimpse into what life may be like for the people in the culture being shown on screen.

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