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Visible Nations: Latin American Cinema and Video

Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Visible Nations
    Book Description:

    In the current "global" moment, the study of Latin American cinema has become insistently national—a phenomenon fully explored in this collection of essays by some of the most interesting and innovative scholars of media and Latin American culture working today. Contributors: Patricia Aufderheide, Charles Ramírez Berg, Gilberto Moises Blasini, Julianne Burton-Carvajal, Seth Fein, Claire F. Fox, Brian Goldfarb, Ilene S. Goldman, Monica Hulsbus, Ana M. López, Kathleen Newman, Laura Podalsky, and Harmony H. Wu.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9026-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Film and Video Distributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxvi)
    Chon A. Noriega

    This project begins with an ironic observation: in the current “global” moment, the study of Latin American cinema has become insistentlynational,struggling in the space between the residual and emergent metanarratives that have set the terms through which the entire region is understood and studied. I use “residual” and “emergent” to signal the concurrent presence and influence of two modes of understanding Latin American history as well as to suggest that one mode is becoming dominant as the other loses ideological force. With respect to cinema studies, each mode has circumscribed not only a set of critical approaches but...


    • 1 El automóvil gris and the Advent of Mexican Classicism
      (pp. 3-32)
      Charles Ramírez Berg

      One of the few surviving examples of Mexican silent narrative film, and one that has been called “the most famous [Mexican] movie of the period,”¹ isEl automóvil gris (The Gray Automobile,1919; produced by Enrique Rosas, directed by Rosas, Joaquín Coss, and Juan Canals de Homes). Originally released as a twelve-episode serial with an estimated running length of between three and four hours, it was based on a notorious series of robberies that occurred in Mexico City in 1915. These crimes were celebrated because of the robbers’ distinctive modus operandi. Taking advantage of the chaos brought on by the...

    • 2 Crossing Nations and Genres: TRAVELING FILMMAKERS
      (pp. 33-50)
      Ana M. López

      Within the general trajectory of Latin American filmmaking, the big moment of pan-continental travel and collaboration is generally said to have happened with the New Latin American Cinema in the 1960s. As this accepted historical narrative would have it, filmmakers who had been working independently to produce “new” cinemas in their respective countries began to meet on foreign and Latin American soil, to share ideas, and to think of themselves as a united—if not necessarily unified—movement. Thus under the banner of the new cinema movements and the new national cinemas of the 1960s (especially Cuba’s), intercontinental cinematic collaborations...

      (pp. 51-81)
      Julianne Burton-Carvajal

      Araya,a 9O-minute scripted documentary filmed in 1957, depicts a 24-hour cycle in the subsistence rituals of three communities of salt gatherers and fishermen on Venezuela’s remote and barren northeastern coast (figs. 3.1 and 3.2). The unusual reception trajectory of this self-consciously poetical social document has been marked by bursts of rekindled interest at ten-year intervals. Honored with two important prizes at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, commercially released in France in 1967, premiered in Venezuela in 1977, featured selection of the ambitious Latin American Visions retrospective organized in Philadelphia in 1987, it generated enthusiastic critical response at the 1995...

    • 4 Transcultured Anticommunism: COLD WAR HOLLYWOOD IN POSTWAR MEXICO
      (pp. 82-112)
      Seth Fein

      During the late 1940s two distinct political patterns converged in Mexico: one global, the cold war, and the other national, the institutionalization of rightist development. Each reinforced the other; the cold war did not determine postwar Mexican development as much as it interacted with the socioeconomic and political model imposed by the ruling one-party regime, which appropriately renamed itself the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in 1946. Mass culture reproduced this convergence and was itself decisive in forming the ideological environment that guided the popular politics of the period. For Mexico, in the early postwar period, film was a pervasive form...


    • 5 Filfilling Fantasies, Diverting Pleasures: ANA CAROLINA AND DAS TRIPAS CORAÇÃO
      (pp. 115-129)
      Laura Podalsky

      In the last decade, women filmmakers have emerged as a potent force in the Latin American film industry, winning both critical and commercial favor. Recent scholarship has focused on the work of directors like María Luisa Bemberg (Argentina), Tizuka Yamasaki (Brazil), the collective Cine Mujer (Colombia), and even figures from the old cinema like Matilde Landeta and Adela Sequeyro (Mexico). Unfortunately, critics have largely ignored the work of a provocative Brazilian filmmaker, Ana Carolina.¹ Like the films of other contemporary women directors, Ana Carolina’s work critiques the patriarchal basis of the social formation. Unlike films by other contemporary women directors,...

    • 6 Performing the Nation in Sergio Toledo’s Vera
      (pp. 130-142)
      Monica Hulsbus

      Sergio Toledo’s significance as a filmmaker cannot be separated from the Brazilian struggle for social and economic justice, since his life, education, and work reflects on the social events that culminated in the gradual return to a democracy in Brazil by the mid-1980s. Toledo was born in 1956. In 1970, while still a student in sociology at the São Paulo University, he met Hector Babenco. Impressed by Babenco’s work, Toledo began making Super 8 films. In 1975, he started working professionally as an editor and assisting directors such as Walter Hugo Khoury, Maurice Capovilla, Jorge Bodansky, and Ana Carolina. During...

    • 7 Pornography and “the Popular” in Post-Revolutionary Mexico: THE CLUB TÍVOLI FROM SPOTA TO ISAAC
      (pp. 143-173)
      Claire F. Fox

      Miguel Alemán Valdés was the first civil president to be elected in post-Revolutionary Mexico. During his administration, 1946—52, the national bourgeoisie that rose to power in the wake of the Revolution became consolidated under the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), the political party that continues to rule in Mexico to this day. For scholars of the Mexican cinema, the Alemánsexeniois a watershed; its early years marked the culmination of Mexican cinema’s “Golden Age,” which had begun during the previous transitional administration of President Manuel Ávila Camacho (1940–46). The stars and genres promoted by the strong Mexico City...

    • 8 Consuming Tacos and Enchiladas: GENDER AND THE NATION IN COMO AGUA PARA CHOCOLATE
      (pp. 174-192)
      Harmony H. Wu

      Latin America has a long tradition of writing and rewriting the nation through its novels and novelists, argues Doris Sommer. Capitalizing on the gaps left by historians, novelists essentially wrote, or created, the nation: “The writers were encouraged both by the need to fill in a history that would increase the legitimacy of the emerging nation and by the opportunity to direct that history toward a future ideal.”¹ These nation-building novels or “foundational fictions” overwhelmingly took the form of romances, displacing the problems of forging a nation onto the successful coupling of two lovers from different races, classes, or regions.²...

    • 9 The World according to Plaff: REASSESSING CUBAN CINEMA IN THE LATE 1980s
      (pp. 193-216)
      Gilberto Noisés Blasini

      The 1987 International Festival of the New Latin American Cinema in Havana, Cuba, commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the appearance of the movement known as the New Latin American Cinema. The festival celebrated the historical birth of a cultural movement that in Viña del Mar, Chile, urgently called for the examination of alternative ways of creating a distinct cinematic language that would challenge the hegemony of Hollywood’s commercial paradigm in order to represent the particular social, cultural, political, and national realities and concerns of Latin American countries.¹ In subsequent years, the spirited cinematic momentum, full of exciting possibilities generated in...


    • 10 Grassroots Video in Latin America
      (pp. 219-238)
      Patricia Aufderheide

      Latin American grassroots, or “popular,” video is heralded for its possibilities for social mobilization and information equity, long-standing issues in development communication.¹ And it has spread rapidly, with the rise of the video cassette recorder internationally. Its use in the 1980s and 1990s suggests, however, that it played neither the liberating nor the demonic role often assigned to new media technologies. It has, instead, often been a useful strategic tool, both on-air and off-air, when used in conjunction with social organizing. Privatization and the end of welfare-state strategies, however, imperiled many of the video organizations established in the last two...

    • 11 Latin American Women’s Alternative Film and Video: THE CASE OF CINE MUJER, COLOMBIA
      (pp. 239-262)
      Ilene S. Goldman

      For nearly twenty years Cine Mujer in Colombia has carved out a space for women’s alternative media in a country with relatively little film production. Cine Mujer slowly evolved from a feminist media collective to an independent production company, producing more videos and filling a need created by the women’s movement and the multitude of women’s resource centers throughout Colombia. The group merits a special place in the history of Latin American film and video because it is has survived unsteady economics and ever-changing politics for an uninterrupted period of time. Cine Mujer’s history encapsulates the changes that Latin American...

    • 12 Local Television and Community Politics in Brazil: SÃO PAULO’S TV ANHEMBI
      (pp. 263-284)
      Brian Goldfarb

      In 1992, at the ninth annual Videobrazil International Festival in São Paulo, Brazil, Jon Alpert, veteran U.S. video activist and cofounder of New York City’s Downtown Community Television (DCTV), was interviewed by São Paulo’s alternative television enterprise, TV Anhembi. Standing in front of the dazzling thirty-six-monitor video wall mounted to TV Anhembi’s plush mobile production/exhibition unit, Alpert recalled that DCTV “started just like this, with a truck on the street” (fig. 12.1). He continued: “But instead of a hundred TV sets, we had only one and the power used to break all the time and we used to electrocute ourselves....

    • 13 Steadfast Love and Subversive Acts: THE POLITICS OF LA OFRENDA: THE DAYS OF THE DEAD
      (pp. 285-302)
      Kathleen Newman

      In the guise of a documentary, a comparative study of Mexican and Chicano celebrations in remembrance of the dead on the first two days of November each year,La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead(1988) is itself both an offering(ofrenda)and a subversive communicative act.¹ Whereas the previous documentary collaboration between filmmakers Lourdes Portillo and Susana Munoz,Las Madres: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo(1985), had focused on the resistance of a group of women to State terror in Muñoz’s native Argentina,La Ofrendaexplores Portillo’s cultural heritage: a Mexico of childhood memory and today’s Mission...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 303-305)