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Latin American Cinema

A Comparative History

Paul A. Schroeder Rodríguez (Author)


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This book charts a comparative history of Latin America’s national cinemas through ten chapters that cover every major cinematic period in the region: silent cinema, studio cinema, neorealism and art cinema, the New Latin American Cinema, and contemporary cinema. Schroeder Rodríguez weaves close readings of approximately fifty paradigmatic films into a lucid narrative history that is rigorous in its scholarship and framed by a compelling theorization of the multiple discourses of modernity. The result is an essential guide that promises to transform our understanding of the region’s cultural history in the last hundred years by highlighting how key players such as the church and the state have affected cinema’s unique ability to help shape public discourse and construct modern identities in a region marked by ongoing struggles for social justice and liberation.

Organization of the Book
Latin America’s Multiple Modernities

1. Conventional Silent Cinema
A Cinema by and for Criollos
Actualities (1897–1907)
Transition (1908–15)
Feature Narrative Cinema (1915–30)
Film d’art • Religious Films • Popular Entertainment Films • The Legacy of the Silent Period
2. Avant-Garde Silent Cinema
A Cinema Against the Grain
São Paulo, A Sinfonia da Metrópole (1929) • Ganga Bruta (1933) • ¡Que viva México! (1931) • Limite (1929)
An Avant-Garde Moment

3. Transition to Sound
Latin American Studios
Latin American Studio Cinema as a Vernacular of Hollywood’s International Style
“Hispanic” Films and the Consolidation of Hollywood’s International Style
The Day You Love Me (1935)
Alternatives to Hollywood’s International Style
Fernando de Fuentes’s Trilogy of the Mexican Revolution
4. Birth and Growth of an Industry
The Musical Birth of an Industry
Out on the Big Ranch (1936)
Argentinean Cinema’s “Golden Age”
Prisioneros de la tierra (1939) • Closed Door (1939)
Social Comedies
The Impact of the Good Neighbor Policy on Latin American Cinema
The Mexican School of Cinema
María Candelaria (1943) • Río Escondido (1947)
Studio Cinema and Peronism
God Bless You (1948)
The Corporatism of Latin American Studio Cinema
5. Crisis and Decline of Studio Cinema
From Good Neighbors to Cold War Containment
Parody as Symptom of the Crisis of Studio Cinema
Aventurera (1950)
Documentary and Newsreel Production During the Studio Era
The Legacy of Studio Cinema

6. Neorealism and Art Cinema
Emergence of a Cinephile Culture
Convergence of Neorealism and Art Cinema in Latin America
Luis Buñuel
Los olvidados (1950) • This Strange Passion (1953)
Vera Cruz Studio and Its Aftermath
Rio, 40 Graus (1955) and Rio, Zona Norte (1957)
Leopoldo Torre Nilsson’s Gothic Trilogy (1957–61)
The Legacy of Neorealism and Art Cinema

7. New Latin American Cinema’s Militant Phase
Documentary Foundations
Epic Projections
Black God, White Devil (1963) • The Hour of the Furnaces (1968) • The Battle of Chile (1975–79)
Transition to a Neobaroque Praxis
Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)• Lucía (1968) • One Way or Another (1974)
8. New Latin American Cinema’s Neobaroque Phase
The Colonial Roots of the Latin American Neobaroque
Frida Still Life (1983) • The Last Supper (1976) • La nación clandestina (1989)
Theory of the New Latin American Cinema
Arc of the New Latin American Cinema

9. Collapse and Rebirth of an Industry
Neoliberal Restructuring
A Melorealist Cinema
The Marketing of Nostalgia
Strawberry and Chocolate (1993) • Central Station (1998) • Amores perros (2000)
10. Latin American Cinema in the Twenty-First Century
Suspenseful Narratives for Precarious Times
¡Y tu mamá también! (2001)
The Rise of the Woman Director
Lucrecia Martel’s Salta Trilogy (2001–8) • The Milk of Sorrow (2009)
From Nostalgia to Suspense
Conclusion: A Triangulated Cinema

Appendix: Discourses of Modernity in Latin America
Paul A. Schroeder Rodríguez is Professor and Chair of the Spanish Department at Amherst College. The author of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea: The Dialectics of a Filmmaker, he has published extensively on Latin American cinema in leading academic journals.
"The comparative approach here serves not to erase the specificities of national experience in favour of some sort of homogenous Pan-American depiction of cinema’s role in Latin America. Rather, it allows a nuanced understanding of the wider ideological developments that underscored the shifts in cinema across the region. It also allows the author eloquently to bring together local, national, and transnational productions in what he refers to as a ‘triangulated’ view of cinema’s trajectory in the region."—Australian Book Review
"An ambitious and accomplished book by a serious scholar who devoted a decade to the close reading of more than fifty films from different countries, thereby giving full sense to the term Latin American cinema. Starting with the silent era and finishing with the emergence of filmmaking by women directors, Paul Schroeder Rodríguez maps out an important artistic expression that is national, regional, and global at the same time."—Jorge Ruffinelli, Professor of Iberian and Latin American Cultures, Stanford University

"A cogently written history eloquently illustrated with case examples of various films in each period."—Tamara L. Falicov, author of The Cinematic Tango: Contemporary Argentine Film 

"Schroeder Rodríguez’s comparative framework is an important contribution to the study of Latin American cinema, global cinema, and Latin American history. Read against key discourses of modernity in Latin America and nascent and industrial histories of the cinema, the work reveals that Latin American cinema has always been part of global cinematic flows."—Cristina Venegas, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

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