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The Bronze Screen

The Bronze Screen: Chicana and Chicano Film Culture

Rosa Linda Fregoso
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    The Bronze Screen
    Book Description:

    Explores Chicana and Chicano popular culture through contemporary representations in both Hollywood commercial and independent cinema.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8458-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Photographs
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction The Bronze Screen: Looking at Us Looking
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    On Saint Valentine’s Day, 1991, I dined with two friends, L.A.-based filmmaker Nancy de los Santos and Patricia Gonzales, a classmate from my days in journalism school at the University of Texas, now a free-lance writer/syndicated columnist. The subject of this book came up, and we discussed its title, which was to be something along these lines: “The Construction of the Chicano Spectator in Chicano Cinema.” Unswayed, both women instead reminded me that such a title would lure only academics (specialized audiences). Why not try, “The Bronze Screen: Looking at Us Looking.” Notwithstanding, I owe the first part of the...

  6. 1 Actos of “Imaginative Re-discovery”
    (pp. 1-20)

    I begin this chapter with a quote from the Chicano novelist Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, who writes about Chicano films as historical and cultural constructions. In order to move beyond descriptive accounts of the early period of Chicano and Chicana cinematic production (typical in efforts to identify the “documentary impulse” in Chicano films), I prefer to categorize/characterize the early films symbolically, asactos(or “Acts”). The short films of this early period areactosof “imaginative re-discovery”² because they work to “re-invent,” “re-cover,” and “re-vision” a “lost” history for Chicanas and Chicanos. Inaugurating discursive strategies that will reappear in later film productions,...

  7. 2 Intertextuality and Cultural Identity in Zoot Suit (1981) and La Bamba (1987)
    (pp. 21-48)

    InQuestions of Cinema, Stephen Heath writes: “What is film, in fact, but an elaborate time machine, a tangle of memories and times successfully rewound in the narrative as the order of the continuous time of the film?”² Luis Valdez’s first feature film,Zoot Suit, appears to put into motion Heath’s insights about the workings of film, surprisingly resisting the monolithic codes of dominant cinema. The unconventional style of the film confronts the viewer with an articulation of the “tangle of memories and times.” Valdez deploys formal film techniques in order to represent the interplay between multiple time referents, the...

  8. 3 Humor as Subversive De-construction: Born in East L.A. (1987)
    (pp. 49-64)

    In Cheech Marin’sBorn in East L.A.(1987), a skimpily clad French woman appears in the opening and closing portions of the film. Her image is enigmatic. Residing outside the corpus of narrative action, herredhair,whitebody, andgreendress—the colors of the Mexican flag—frame the film’s story. In the beginning of the film, the redwhite-green body of a French woman is obsessively stalked throughout the barrio by the main character of the film, Rudy (Cheech Marin). Her final appearance during the Cinco de Mayo parade scene stages the narrative’s closure, literally halting the Cinco de...

  9. 4 From Il(l) egal to Legal Subject: Border Construction and Re-construction
    (pp. 65-92)

    From borderlands to border texts, border conflict and border crossings to border writing, border pedagogy and border feminism, the concept of “border” enjoys wide currency as a “paradigm of transcultural experience.”² Representing an alternative way of conceptualizing cultural process in the late twentieth century—a time when people, media images, and information journey across the world at unprecedented rates—the category of border directs our attention to the spaces “within and between” what were once sanctified as “homogeneous” communities.³

    Its recent popularity among intellectuals may lead us to conclude, as Henry Giroux notes about postmodernism, that border is perhaps the...

  10. 5 Nepantla in Gendered Subjectivity
    (pp. 93-121)

    During the Christmas season of 1991, Luis Valdez’s made-for-television filmThe Pastorela: A Shepherd’s Playaired on PBS.³ For the first time in the history of Chicano cinema, a film directed by a Chicano featured a Chicana as the central subject of its narrative.⁴ Not that women have not played major parts in Chicano films, but usually they are portrayed in terms of timeworn stereotypes: as virgins or as whores in Valdez’s filmsZoot SuitandLa Bamba; as sidekicks of the main characters (supportive wives) in Jesús Trevino’sRaices de Sangreandseguinand in Isaac Artenstein’sBreak of...

  11. 6 Conclusion: Eastside Story Re-visited
    (pp. 122-134)

    Shortly after the release ofAmerican Me(1992), Edward James Olmos’s directorial debut, I was talking on the phone with my good friend Iris Blanco. Along with another longtime friend, Sylvia Lizárraga, Iris had just seenAmerican Me. “We were stunned,” she said. “The film is so hopeless. There’s just no way out. Un callejón sin salida” (a tunnel without an exit). A few weeks later, L.A.’s “long hot summer” faced us on national television. Yet in this rerun of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, and despite the arrogance of East-based media announcers and the black leadership who repeatedly described the...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 135-156)
  13. Index
    (pp. 157-166)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 167-167)