Latin American Cinema

Lecture, Open—Fall

This course surveys key developments in the history of Latin American cinema. Latin America has generated thriving movie industries with strong output of popular genres, low-budget indie filmmaking scenes, politically engaged documentarians, influential arthouse dramas, experimentalism with strong ties to fine-arts practices, and much more. We will look at a number of the films considered classics of the region, spanning the early national landmarks of the ’30s, the industrial “golden age” of the ’40s and ’50s, the “New Latin American Cinema” of the ’60s and ’70s, the post-dictatorship films of the ’80s, and the post-’90s diversification of styles and topics that continues in the present. A distinct set of questions and issues will comprise the themes of the course: How have filmmakers elected to represent the history of their country or region? What are the various ways in which filmmakers have sought to construct dialogues with older cinematic traditions? How have political concerns shaped the cinematic practices of specific periods and regions? How can we characterize the contemporary trends and tendencies of Latin American cinema today, and what is their relation to past cinemas? The process of delving into these issues will entail reading texts of various kinds, including filmmakers' manifestos, interviews, popular criticism, and academic studies. Most of the films that we will discuss are fictional narratives, although a sampling of documentaries will also be screened. Our main focus will be on films from Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil.