Latin American Cinema

Maria Helena Rueda

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:
Latin American Cinema

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  • Regional and Area Studies
  • History of the Americas


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Moving pictures arrived in Latin America soon after the Lumière Brothers created their first projection in December 1895. Pioneer cameramen arrived relatively early to the fast-growing Latin American cities of the time. Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro saw their first film screenings in 1896, and most other Latin American cities soon after. By the 1910s all countries were making films locally, but only Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil would eventually develop large film industries. While few studies exist on the early history of Latin American cinema as a whole, all works dealing with the individual national film histories touch upon the subject. By the 1940s, Mexican and Argentinean films were being distributed throughout Spanish America, with the ones from Mexico in particular developing an enthusiastic following. The Brazilian film industry also developed its own audience. These national film industries declined in the 1950s, mainly as a result of the strong international expansion of Hollywood-based studios. The 1960s marked the emergence of the influential New Latin American Cinema. Defined as a movement by a 1967 filmmakers’ conference held in Viña del Mar, Chile, it encompassed the work of young directors whose work was experimental, low budget, and socially engaged. Directors associated with Brazilian Cinema Novo, such as Glauber Rocha and Nelson Pereira dos Santos, and those who participated in the resurgence of filmmaking in Cuba after the revolution, like Tomas Gutiérrez Alea and Santiago Álvarez, were part of this group. There is a large amount of literature on this movement, whose influence continued throughout the 1970s. The economic crises of the 1980s had a negative impact in the production of movies. In the 1990s reforms in film legislation led to a dramatic decrease in state sponsorship. The result, paradoxically, was the development of alternative forms of filmmaking and the initiation of new outstanding film movements, like the New Argentine Cinema, including directors Lucrecia Martel and Adrián Caetano, among others. In México filmmakers like Alejandro González Iñarritu and Alfonso Cuarón revitalized the national film industry and also achieved success abroad. Since the mid-1990s film production in Latin America has been revitalized by transnational coproduction agreements—like Ibermedia—and the creation of new state legislation aimed at promoting filmmaking in each country. Many recent books study this new trend in Latin American film, reflecting on its links to globalization and its cultural significance for the region.

Article.  11760 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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