Since the late 1960s, films from Latin America have won widening audiences in North America and Europe. Until now, no single book has offered an introduction to the diverse personalities and practices that make up this important regional film movement.
In Cinema and Social Change in Latin America, Julianne Burton presents twenty interviews with key figures of Latin American cinema, covering three decades and ranging from Argentina to Mexico. Interviews with pioneers Fernando Birri, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, and Glauber Rocha, renowned feature filmmakers Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Carlos Diegues, prize-winning documentarists Patricio Guzmán and Helena Solberg-Ladd, among others, endeavor to balance personal achievement against the backdrop of historical, political, social, and economic circumstances that have influenced each director's career. Presented also are conversations that cast light on the related activities of acting, distribution, theory, criticism, and film-based community organizing.
More than their counterparts in other regions of the world, Latin American artists and intellectuals acknowledge the degree to which culture is shaped by history and politics. Since the mid-1950s, a period of rising nationalism and regional consciousness, talented young artists and activists have sought to redefine the uses of the film medium in the Latin American context. Questioning the studio and star systems of the Hollywood industrial model, these innovators have developed new forms, content, and processes of production, distribution, and reception.
The specific approaches and priorities of the New Latin American Cinema are far from monolithic. They vary from realism to expressionism, from observational documentary to elaborate fictional constructs, from "imperfect cinema" to a cinema that emulates the high production values of the developed sectors, from self-reflexive to "transparent" cinematic styles, from highly industrialized modes of production to purely artisanal ones. What does not vary is the commitment to film as a vehicle for social transformation and the expression of national and regional cultural autonomy.
From early alternative cinema efforts in Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba to a contemporary perspective from within the Mexican commercial industry to the emerging cinema and video production from Central America, Cinema and Social Change in Latin America offers the most comprehensive look at Latin American film available today.