The feature-length film American Textures was directed by Arnd Wächter as the third film following previous documentaries Crossing Borders and The Dialogue released through his charity Crossing Borders Education.
The newest film diverges from the trilogy’s first films that show American study abroad students interacting with Muslim and Chinese peers in Morocco and China. American Textures follows six black, white and latino American students as they explore the historical hotbed of America’s racial divide.
“The whole idea is to provide intercultural learning through intercultural issues and diversity issues back home”
“The first two are very focused on intercultural education and also the field of study abroad,” Wächter told The PIE News. To make the third film, he said he wanted to address the 90%+ of US students who don’t study abroad.
Wächter said he realised the importance of a film on interracial dialogue when witnessing the media attention around police violence sparked by the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and the resignation of the president of University of Missouri last autumn over the mishandling of racist incidences on campus.
“The whole idea is to provide intercultural learning through intercultural issues and diversity issues back home.”
Despite the US-centric context, Wächter argues that students around the world will be able to relate to the diversity challenges shown in the film.
“Intercultural tensions are not just a reality for the United States, Britain has their cases and many European countries are now experiencing it fresh through the refugee crisis. In the film we can witness that very direct link between our capacity to confront diversity issues and tensions within our own countries and our personal ability to grow intercultural and communication skills.”
Like the other two films, CBE has also developed educational “toolkits” that educators can purchase to create seminars and discussion groups on campus alongside screenings of the film.
CBE collaborated with National Geographic Education, Michigan State University, and SIT Graduate Institute on educational resources and worked with the documentary department of New York Film Academy to produce the film. Wächter said he aims to release it to festivals this autumn/winter and to screen it on some 500 US campuses in the spring.