From where to where

How nations and cultures are connected through the eyes of cinema?


A must when speaking about migration is to have someone moving to a place to another. That doesn’t necessarily mean to tell a story about a journey. Even if the movie is not directly about the migration or about the travel itself, it involves people which come from at least two different places or two different cultures.
We wanted to see which are the most common relation between places and culture behind our movies. Together with that we asked ourselves if the nationality of the director is somehow related to the movie theme.
We collected these information and displayed them on a map to analyze the connections.


1. Starting from IMDB we collected the data related to the movie production, the nationality of director and reading through the plot we find out places and nationalities of the characters involved.
2. If some of the data were missing we proceeded our research on other websites. Some movies which didn’t have the places indicated were considered “not defined”, some others, which had multiple origins and destinations, were categorized as “worldwide”.
3. All data where organized into an Excel file to insert data in Gephi. The edges sheet included a column for the origin place (“Source”) and a column for the destination (“Target”). The nodes sheet together with the “Id” and the “Label” included two columns with “Latitude” and “Longitude” of each place.
4. We rearranged the network using the “GeoLayout” in Gephi and resized the nodes based once on the entrance connection of every nodes (In-degree), once on the outgoing connections (Out-degree). Each version was exported separately in svg format.
5. In illustrator we merged the two visualizations and we repeated the connections between nodes that have more than one film in common. This operation allowed us to have a link for each movie and to color it based on the director nationality.
6. A map was displayed in the background to help in understanding the visualization.

How to read it

There are two possible ways to visualize the map: from the point of view of the country of origin or from the point of view of the destination country.
Using the buttons it’s possible to toggle the two views and see the different dimensions of the two phenomena: the bigger the circles are the higher number of films arrives or departs from that place.
Edges works clockwise, that means that if two nodes lying on an horizontal line are connected by an arch which pass over them, the origin is represented by the circle on the left, the destination by the one on the right.
Furthermore, the color of the lines communicates the nationality of the director: it’s possible to determine if he or she comes from the country of origin, from the destination country or from a third country not related with the ones involved in the movie.


Thanks to this analysis, we realized that United States, with 72 films, are the most common destination in our corpus and Mexico the land with more emigrants. All 18 movies that have Mexico as origin have USA as destination, being the most significant relation between two places.
Stories are usually told by directors of the destination country (64 movies), surprisingly followed by directors of a third country (31) and only after by the ones of the country of origin (25). This shows up very strongly when the origin countries are from the third world. Almost all countries respect this trend apart from Mexico which has 9 films directed by Americans (destination country directors), 6 by Mexicans and only two by other nationalities, and Ireland, where two out of four movies are mastered by Irish directors.