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TitleRethinking Third Cinema
ISBN 139780203638668
CategoryArts - Film
File Size3.1 MB
Total Pages253
Table of Contents
                            Book Cover
Introduction: rethinking Third Cinema
Third Cinema theory and beyond
Beyond Third Cinema: the aesthetics of hybridity
Challenging Third World legacies: issues of gender, culture, and representation
Post-Third-Worldist culture: gender, nation, and thecinema
The erotics of history: gender and transgression in the  Asian cinemas
Alternative cinemas in the age of globalization
Authorship, globalization, and the new identity of Latin American cinema: from the Mexican ~ranchera~ to Argentinian ~exile~
Video booms and the manifestations of ~first~ cinema in anglophone Africa
The relocation of culture: social specificity and the ~Third~ question
What's ~oppositional~ in Indonesian cinema?
The seductions of homecoming: place, authenticity, and Chen Kaige's Temptress Moon
Receiving/retrieving Third (World) Cinema: alternative approaches to spectator studies and critical history
Theorizing ~Third World~ film spectatorship: the case ofIran and Iranian cinema
Rethinking Indian popular cinema: towards newer frames of understanding
Document Text Contents
Page 1

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Page 126

The new identity of Latin American cinema 113

Argentine “national” cinema, my objective is actually quite the opposite. In
tracing the development of co-productions in the decade of Argentina’s
redemocratization following the Dirty War, we observe highly original and
creative ways that individual filmmakers have sought to weaken the hold of
what Andrew Higson has called “the limiting imagination of national cinema”
(Higson, 2000, pp. 63–4). Implicit in their work is the sense that national
cinema serves only to mask the commercial and cultural realities of global film
culture “as modern communication networks operate on an increasingly trans-
national basis and cultural commodities are widely exchanged across national
borders …, dissolving rather than sustaining the concept of the nation”
(Higson, 2000, pp. 66–7). Like the Solanas model established by Tangos,
with its strong self-referential style, these films function with the double
imperative of constructing new markets, but also of affirming a new position
within which local culture is not an exclusionary term, but rather the basis of
expanding cultural diversity beyond the narrow confines of a state-based
national cinema. The examination of their strategies and approaches thus brings
us closer to understanding the textual and contextual denseness that belies the
simple label of international co-productions throughout Latin America.

“The universality of human-rights themes”

To compensate foreign audiences for their ignorance of local culture or history,
Latin American filmmakers often return to recognizable genres, specifically
imaginary as a rhetorical gesture that bridges the gaps in cultural knowledge.
As Marsha Kinder has argued in the instance of Spanish cinema (Kinder,
1993, pp. 65–73), the melodramatic imagination is a highly malleable form
of expression, cutting across various national cultures and allowing for a series
of culturally-specific inflections with ideological functions that run the political
gamut from reactionary fascist meanings to highly subversive counter-cultural
forms. As Ana López argues, melodrama in Latin American contexts has been
used cinematically to work through “the problematic of cultural underdevelop-
ment as well as a series of specific gender empowerments” (López, 1993, pp.

Luis Puenzo’s The Official Story is clearly the most commercially and critically
successful model of the ways in which genre substitutes for a culturally specific
knowledge of local culture. This Argentine-US co-production follows a model
popularized only a few years earlier in Costa-Gavras’s mainstream American
film, Missing (1982), in which the atrocities related to the 1973 Chilean military
coup were framed through the melodramatic tale of a father’s search for his
missing son. That film marked the textual strategy and clearly established the
mainstream market niche for films like The Official Story. Puenzo formalizes
the strategy that will recur in a number of subsequent Argentine productions
by transposing the local thematics revolving around the horrific acts of the
military dictatorship of 1976–83 into a register of universal, humanitarian
themes. His implicit project is to redraw the affective borders of the nation by

Page 127

114 Marvin D’Lugo

aligning certain narratives with the ethical values deemed universal. In The
Official Story it is the generals’ trafficking in the kidnapping and adoption of
the children of the “disappeared.” Not unrelated to this linkage of culturally-
specific material with universal themes is the effort to reshape cinematic
narration along more accessible lines.10 As some critics have noted, the goal
of greater accessibility for the film is mirrored in its visual style and editing
which are more reminiscent of television soap operas than of feature-length
films (Beceyro, 1997, pp. 26–9).

A similar displacement of culturally specific themes by the broader genre
rhetoric of melodrama, is one of the most notable features of María Luisa
Bemberg’s Camila (1984). The enunciative strategy of that film is to recast
the story of nineteenth-century political repression under the Rosas dictatorship
as a melodramatic narration of resistance by a young woman to patriarchal
tyranny ideologically aligned with the state. The pattern here is to use
melodrama which, besides its near-universal appeal, is also culturally-specific
to the development of Latin American cinemas from a period even prior to
the advent of synchronized sound (Monsiváis, 2000, pp. 66–7).

Lita Stantic’s 1992 film, Un muro de silencio/ A Wall of Silence, perhaps best
sums up the logic of this strategy of universalization when one character, a
British filmmaker, explains to her Argentine hosts that European audiences
would be interested in a film about the “disappeared” of the Dirty War because
of Europe’s own history of Nazi concentration camps. Here, we see the
humanitarian theme conjoined with a series of dialogues and incorporated
newsreel footage to familiarize a non-Argentine audience with the complex
historical background that led up to the Dirty War.

Such efforts serve a double pedagogical function. They orient international
audiences through well-established rhetorical tropes that undermine the
presumed exoticism and difference between Argentina and other Western
societies. In addition, and of no less significance, the streamlining of often
complex details of recent Argentine history creates an internal distance for
national audiences that enables spectators to see their own culture from a
position of renewed critical distance.

Authorial biography

Given the international audience’s ignorance of the complexity of most Latin
American history, the biographical figure of the film author often functions to
confer a unity and coherence to international auteur cinema. Its source, to
some degree, lies with the politique des auteurs promoted by the French New
Wave with its emphasis on the personality of the auteur as decisive in the
creation of the filmic work. Here the precedent of Buñuel in Mexico seems
again relevant as a model of a filmmaker whose personality as defying bourgeois
social norms was often read into his films. More recently this is strikingly the
case in the filmic and biographic interplay of themes of gender politics in the
works of María Luisa Bemberg. Having written a number of screenplays for

Page 252

Index 239

Third World Filmmaking and the West
(Armes) (book) 14–15, 49–50

Thompson, Kristin, Breaking the Glass
Armor (book) 3

Thompson, Robert Farris 42
Thyagabhoomi 216
Tianming, Wu 8
Tiempo de revancha (Time of Revenge)

(Aristarain) 119
A Time to Love (Nowhat-e Asheai)

(Makhmalbaf) 197
Tlatli, Moufida 49; Samt al Qusur (The

Silence of the Palace) 59–60
Tolstoy, Leo Nikolayevich, War and

Peace (novel and film) 184
Tom, Pam, Two Lies 69
Toronto International Film Festival

(1992) 199
“total cinema” 219
“Towards a Third Cinema” (Solanas and

Getino) (essay) 9, 11–12, 21, 31,

“traditional”/local values 158–62, 167,

transnationalism 103–7
Tricky Twist 133
Truman, President 192
Tunisia 59–60
Twin Lovers 130–1
Two Lies (Tom) 69

udigrudi (underground) filmmakers

Ukadike, N. Frank 19, 126–41; Black
African Cinema (book) 101–2, 131

Ukeles, Mierle Laderman 35
Unbidden Voices (Parasher and Ellis) 62
United States 61; films 113; Indonesian

policies towards 152; Naficy in
194–200; policy in Iran 186,

Unthinking Eurocentrism (Shohat and
Stam) (book) 29

untouchability 216
Uptown, All that Glitters Is Not Gold

(Ashong-Katai) 134
urban slums 204–5
USIA (United States Information

Agency) films 192–4
utopia 11

Vasudevan, Ravi 202, 212
Vater, Regina 42
The Veiled Revolution (Fernea) 71

Velaikari 216
Vietnam War 11
El viaje (The Journey) (Solanas) 110,

video technology 19, 37, 52, 64–5; as

alternative to feature films 101–2; in
anglophone Africa 127–30, 131–6,
138–41; MTV music videos 205,
210; see also language; sound

Virgin Mary 95

Wallerstein, Immanuel 13
War and Peace (Tolstoi) (novel and

film) 184
Wayne, John 189
Wayne, Mike 4, 16, 17
Welles, Orson 20
the West: Third World spectators of

Western films 184–94; Western
hegemony 87–8, 214; see also

West Papua (Irian Jaya) 154, 155
White, Charles 66
white-is-beautiful aesthetic 65–6
Wild, Cornel 190
Willemen, Paul 9, 10–11, 14–16, 148,

151q, 154q, 156, 163q, 214q
Williams, Raymond 34
Wilson, Rob and Wimal Dissanayake,

Global/Local (book) 155–6q
Wollen, Peter 3
“woman-as-sexed-subject” 87, 89
women 5, 17; Algerian 79; of color,

and race 53; dancers 220; films by
and about 51–2, 55–75, 114–20,
129–30, 167–76; and national
histories 79–97, 114–18;
primordial spirit/mother-goddess
figures 84–6, 87–9, 92, 94, 95–7;
women’s bodies 49, 52, 53

Women Make Movies 53
women’s bodies 49, 52, 53, 64–5,

67–8, 71–5; in African cinema
130; and treatment of history 79–

World Bank 7

Xala (Sembène) 5, 57
Xavier, Ismail 31q

Yellow Earth (Chen Kaige) 80, 84, 85,
86–9, 92, 94

Yirenkyi, Kofi: Heart of Gold 135;
Kanana 135; Sika Samsum 135

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