Cinemagogic Echoes? Len Lye’s FREE RADICALS (1958) and Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino’s HOUR OF THE FURNACES (1968)

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On Liberation Cinema and Raymundo Gleyser

This is a documentary film about the life and work of Raymundo Gleyzer, Argentine filmmaker, kidnapped and murdered by that country’s military dictatorship in 1976.

Through Raymundo’s life, we follow the story of Latin American revolutionary cinema and the liberation struggles of the 60’s and 70’s. Raymundo was one of the major architects of the militant cinema, yet after his  “disappearance” he fell into oblivion.

It is essential that the new generation rediscovers his life and works which are a source of inspiration today more than ever. This documentary will bring back what the CIA and the Latin American dictatorships couldn’t destroy: the memory, the ideals and the courage to tell the truth.

We worked during four years on the research, recovery of archives and editing of the film, getting the support of Jan Vrijman Fund (IDFA – Netherlands), Fondation Altercine (Canada), and National Endowment of the Arts (Argentine). [Note by Ernesto Ardito and Virna Molina; hyperlinks added by Film Studies For Free]

Film Studies For Free is delighted to present today a wonderful, full-length documentary about revolutionary Latin American cinema. It is a moving and hugely informative film about the inspirational life and filmmaking of Raymundo Gleyser, founder of the Cine de la Base movement. The Google translation of Spanish-language Wikipedia page about Gleyser may be read here

There’s very little written about Gleyser in English, so this subtitled version of Ernesto Ardito and Virna Molina‘s film is an incredibly valuable resource. Thanks so much to them for making it freely watchable online. A marvellous work of generosity in a number of ways. You can read a little about the documentary here.

Another, must-see film by Arduito and Molina that this filmmaking couple has just made available online for free, in an, as yet, unsubtitled version, is Nazión (2011) about the origins of the Argentine military dictatorship.

Below, FSFF has linked to its previous, related, entries of links to studies of Latin American and other radical and revolutionary cinema, together with some relevant full-length films viewable online. 

40+ Essays on Film, Moving Image, and Digital Media in the Sarai Readers

Framegrab image of early action heroine “Fearless” Nadia (née Mary Ann Evans) in Miss Frontier Mail (Homi Wadia, 1936). Read Rosie Thomas’s 2007 article on this film.

Today, Film Studies For Free focuses on, and links to, some remarkable film and digital media studies essays commissioned and edited by the Sarai Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi.

The Sarai Programme was initiated in 2000 by a group consisting of internationally renowned cinema scholar Ravi S. Vasudevan, Ravi Sundaram (both fellows at CSDS) and the members of the Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta), a Delhi based group of media practitioners, documentarists, artists and writers.

Sarai’s mission is to act as a platform for discursive and creative collaboration between theorists, researchers, practitioners and artists actively engaged in reflecting on contemporary urban spaces and cultures in South Asia. Its areas of interests include media research and theory, the urban experience in South Asia: history, environment, culture, architecture and politics, new and established media practices, media history, cinema, contemporary art, digital culture, the history and politics of technology, visual/technological cultures, free and open source software, social usage of software, the politics of information and communication, online communities and web-based practices.

The below collection of articles — painstakingly drawn from the numerous, openly accessible Sarai Readers produced by the collective — reflect the above interests, but have been curated here by FSFF because of their particular, potential relevance to scholars of cinema and related moving image and digital media studies.

    "Global Cinema: Cinéma Engagé or Cinéma Commerciale?" Special Issue of SITUATIONS

    Framegrab from Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu , 2006)

    Babel sets out to be a new sort of film that attempts to create a “world cinema” gaze within a commercial Hollywood framework. I examine how it approaches this and ask whether the film succeeds in this attempt. I explore the tensions between progressive and conservative political agendas, and pay particular attention to the ways “other” cultures are seen in a film with “Third World” pretensions and U.S money behind it. I frame my analysis around a key question: does the Iñárritu-led outfit successfully create a paradigmatic “transnational world cinema” text that de-centers U.S. hegemony, or is this a utopian project doomed to failure in a film funded predominantly by major U.S. studios? I examine the ways in which the film engages with the tourist gaze and ask whether the film replaces this gaze with a world cinema gaze or merely reproduces it in new ways . [Deborah Shaw, “Babel and the Global Hollywood Gaze”, Situations, 4.1, 2011]

    Film Studies For Free is delighted to announce the publication of a new film issue of the Open Access journal Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination. The special issue is entitled “Global Cinema: Cinéma Engagé or Cinéma Commerciale?” and it contains ten essays on modern international films and cinemas, including those of Iran, Nigeria, Mexico, Romania, France, China, Argentina, and India as well as on contemporary film festivals and on films documenting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    As the editors write:

    The issue has a global reach in its coverage of countries and regions of the world ranging from Hollywood’s own “Global Gaze,” to a placement of Nigerian Cinema as the equal of Africa’s modernist cinema, to Venezuela’s difficult negotiation of a Bolivarian cinema in a neoliberal context, to a questioning of the radical othering of Eastern European cinema whose concerns now seem much closer to those of the West, and, finally, to a tracing of a complex multiperspectival fashioning of the image of the Chinese peasantry in a moment when the distinction between city and country are rapidly fading.  The global reach of the issue extends as well to the range of theoretical positions used to examine contemporary global cinema, be it:  structural-materialist aspects of the questioning of the Israeli-Palestinian problematic; the integration of economic and aesthetic methodologies in a post-Adornian examination of the Cannes Film Festival; feminist and subaltern theory utilized to critique the patriarchal aspects of what is sometimes viewed as India’s most politically progressive cinema; a rereading and deconstruction of French radical workerist post-1968 cinema; and a linking of feminist and anti-colonial perspectives to highlight the way that in Iran Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten spotlights Muslim women’s emancipation.

    Below are direct links to the contents, as per usual here at FSFF.

    Situation homepage  Archives

    Vol 4, No 1 (2011) Table of Contents PDF

    • Terri Ginsberg, Dennis Broe, “Whither Globalization? An Idea Whose Time Has Come or Whose Time Has Come and Gone?” PDF
    • Deborah Shaw, “Babel and the Global Hollywood Gaze” PDF
    • Dennis Broe, “The Film Festival as Site of Resistance: Pro or Cannes” PDF
    • Hossein Khosrowjah , “Neither a Victim nor a Crusading Heroine” PDF
    • Jonathon Haynes , “African Cinema and Nollywood: Contradictions” PDF
    • Terri Ginsberg, ” Radical Rationalism as Cinema Aesthetics: The Palestinian–Israeli Conflict in North American Documentary and Experimental Film” PDF
    • Paul Douglas Grant, “Just Some of the Ways to Shoot a Strike: Militant Filmmaking in France from Arc to the Groupe Medvedkine” PDF
    • Noah Zweig, “Villa del Cine (Cinema City): Constructing Bolivarian Citizens for the Twenty-First Century” PDF
    • Ping Fu, “Encircling the City: Peasant Migration in Contemporary Chinese Media” PDF
    • Gayatri Devi, “Between Personal Cataclysms and National Conflicts: The Missing Labor Class in Malayalam Cinema” PDF PDF
    • “Eastern European Cinema on the Margins” by Meta Mazaj PDF
    • Contributors, Film Issue PDF

    >"Roots of Third Cinema" and other Michael Chanan films and videos online

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    Roots of Third Cinema from Michael Chanan on Vimeo 
    (made available for teaching and private viewing only)

    As regular readers of this blog will know, Film Studies For Free is a fervent admirer of the work of filmmaker and academic writer Michael Chanan, Professor of Film at Roehampton University. Chanan has been making his work accessible online for a long time now. And now his professional website and his great blog Putney Debater have been joined by a Vimeo account where he is gradually archiving some marvellous audiovisual work from an impressive back catalogue.

    FSFF has embedded one of its favourite items above, Roots of Third Cinema which has been extracted and re-edited from Chanan’s enormously important and influential documentary New Cinema of Latin America (Channel Four, 1983). This is an incredibly rich and useful scholarly resource, FSFF is sure you will agree.

    Written, produced, and directed by Chanan with photography by Peter Chappell, part I of New Cinema of Latin America traced the origins and development of the new cinema movement in the countries of Latin America from the early 1950s to the present and examines its political and social themes. In part II the political and cultural dimensions of the new cinema since the 1960s were explored in greater detail. The film examined the new cinema’s political concerns, its desire to give expression to the traditional cultures, national identities, and everyday experiences of Latin Americans, and the growing prominence of feminist cinema. Both parts included commentary by directors and others active in the new cinema movement and excerpts from numerous films.

    [FSFF has devoted a number of previous entries to online and openly accessible resources on Third Cinema in the past. See especially this bumper post.]

    >On Popular Memory and Third Cinema: the work of Teshome Gabriel

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    In 1974, Teshome Gabriel, who was at the time a [UCLA] Ph.D. student but who would later be widely credited with introducing Third Cinema theory to Euro-American film scholars with the publication of his 1982 dissertation, Third Cinema in the Third World: The Aesthetic of Liberation, organized a weekly Third World Film Club. Through 1976, the club screened the work of radical filmmakers mostly from Latin American and Africa including Miguel Littín (Chile), Jorge Sanjinés (Bolivia), Solanas and Getino (Argentina), and Ousmane Sembene (Senegal). The Los Angeles School was especially influenced by the classics of Cuban and Brazilian cinema including Memories of Underdevelopment (Tomas Gutierrez Alea, 1968), Lucía (Humberto Solás, 1968), The Last Supper (Gutierrez Alea, 1976), and the work of Nelson Pereira dos Santos (Brazil) and Glauber Rocha (Brazil), who, invited by Gabriel, visited UCLA in 1978.

     [Footnote 15: Teshome Gabriel’s importance should not be underestimated. In a recent assessment of Third Cinema, Anthony Guneratne refers to the appearance of Gabriel’s book as a “watershed,” “the first work in English to undertake a comprehensive exposition of Third Cinema theory in relation to the social and political situations it addressed.” See Guneratne and Dissanayake, Rethinking Third Cinema].

    Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky, The Ethnic Turn: Studies in Political Cinema from Brazil and the United States, 1960-2002, 2009, p. 150 (hyperlinks added by FSFF)

    Official history tends to arrest the future by means of the past. Historians privilege the written word of the text – it serves as their rule of law. It claims a “center” which continuously marginalizes others. In this way its ideology inhibits people from constructing their own history or histories.
         Popular memory, on the other hand, considers the past as a political issue. It orders the past not only as a reference point but also as a theme of struggle. For popular memory, there are  no longer any “centers” or “margins,” since the very designations imply that something has been conveniently left out.
         Popular memory, then, is neither a retreat to some great tradition nor a flight to some imagined “ivory tower,” neither a self-indulgent escapism, nor a desire for the actual “experience” or “content” of the past for its own sake. Rather, it is a “look back to the future,” necessarily dissident and partisan, wedded to constant change.

    Teshome H. Gabriel, “Third Cinema as Guardian of Popular Memory: Towards a Third Aesthetics.” Questions of Third Cinema. Ed. Jim Pines and Paul Willemen. London: British Film Institute, 1989. 53-64

    A study of style alone will not engender meaning … Style is only meaningful in the context of its use – in how it acts on culture and helps to illuminate the ideology within.

    Teshome Gabriel, Third Cinema in the Third World: An Aesthetic of Liberation (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982) p. 41 

    [T]he principle characteristic of Third Cinema is really not so much where it is made, or even who makes it, but, rather, the ideology it espouses and the consciousness it displays. In one word we might not be far from the truth when we claim the Third Cinema (as) the cinema of the Third World which stands opposed to imperialism and class oppression in all their ramifications and manifestations.

    Teshome Gabriel, Third Cinema in the Third World: An Aesthetic of Liberation (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982) p. 2


    Film Studies For Free was very sad to report in a post yesterday that Teshome Gabriel, one of the activist founders of the critical discourses and practices of Third Cinema and popular memory, and a much loved and respected film professor at one of the finest film schools in the world, had passed away. FSFF has devoted a number of entries to online and openly accessible resources on Third Cinema in the past. Today’s tribute post focuses on links to online and free to access works either by Professor Gabriel or ones which have been heavily informed by his work.
    By Teshome Gabriel:
    Informed by the work of Teshome Gabriel:
    Other Useful Resources: 

    >R.I.P. Peter Brunette and Teshome Gabriel: online tributes

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    Last updated June 24, 2010
    Teshome Gabriel, 1939-2010

    Peter Brunette, 1943-2010

    Film Studies has lost two of its giants.

    On Monday, Professor Teshome Gabriel of UCLA, a leading theorist and scholar of African, Third and Third World Cinema, and memory and cinema, passed away in Los Angeles.

    And, just yesterday, Peter Brunette, Reynolds Professor of Film Studies at Wake Forest University, author of important books on film theory, Italian cinema and the work of individual film directors, and a very well-known and popular film critic, died while in attendance at the Taormina Film Festival in Italy.

    Film Studies For free will post full, individual, tributes of its own to each of these scholars very shortly, but in the meantime is gathering together, below, a list of links to some of the online tributes to both men. If you know of any you would like to see included, please email FSFF, or link to them in the comments section of this post.

    The author of this blog would like to pass on her sincere condolences to the families and friends of both men.

    Tributes to Teshome Gabriel

    Tributes to Peter Brunette

    >"Making films anyhow": On Glauber Rocha’s DIY cinema

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    Terra em Transe/Entranced Earth (Glauber Rocha, 1967)

    Glauber said more: “We are going to make our films anyhow: with handheld cameras, in 16mm if there is no 35mm, improvising in the street to get people’s true gestures”; “..a cinema on the basis of whatever means are possible, at low cost and in a short time”; “..a political cinema that intends to inform not by logic, but by poetics.”

    Making films anyhow. Not making films anyhow. In fact, filming with a hand-held camera revealing its nervous presence in the scene more than the scene itself properly speaking, was not a way of simplifying and impoverishing cinematographic writing, but a creative intervention to make it more complex and rich. Glauber’s Earth Entranced (Terra em Transe, 1967) is a good example, the scene improvised, not because it had not been thought through properly beforehand in the screenplay, but because it continued being thought through there in the shooting; the image tremulous; not because of any failure or lack of skill on the part of the photographer, but because at that time reality was being discussed like that in speech, nervous and tremulous.

    In fact, this cinema, with an idea in its head and a camera in its hand, enriched the speech of itself. It helped people think of screenplays as a challenge to shooting, of shooting as a response to the challenge of the screenplay, of the camera as a challenge to the eye. It helped people think of cinema as an expression finished, on the screen and, at the same time, unfinished, just in the imagination, part of a process that does not end with the film on the screen; it helped people think of film as a work print, a not yet finished print for the spectator to clean up and bring order to; cinema as an inventor and stimulator of images.

    José Carlos Avellar, ‘Writing the Speech’, FIPRESCI, 2006

    The links list offered up today is Film Studies For Free‘s customary tribute to Glauber Rocha, a political and aesthetic leader of the Cinema Novo movement which emerged in Brazil in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

    Known above all for the trio of films Deus e o diabo na terra do sol (Black God, White Devil, 1964), Terra em transe (Earth Entranced/Land in Anguish, 1967), and O dragão da maldade contra o santo guerreiro (Antonio das Mortes, 1969), the latter about a legendary gunman hired to kill a group of rebelling peasants, Glauber Rocha’s work — made according to his DIY dictum ‘An idea in your head and a camera in hand…’ — has been an inspiration for much cinema in Brazil and elsewhere.

    This post is also intended to support and publicise a (for charity) screening of Glauber Rocha’s Terra em Transe in London by Latin America House/CasaLatina.org on April 8. Do please go along if you can, and find out more about about this important filmmaker’s work and about Brazilian cinema, politics and culture more generally.

          Obstinate Battles for Documentary Memory: Patricio Guzmán Resources Online

          Regular readers will know, hopefully, that Film Studies For Free issues forth only on the topics that take its fancy. It receives no commercial or other patronage, and it does not respond to ‘prompts’ for its hypertextual-utterances: nor does it want any! It loves and supports free online culture, and it prefers to make its own reading, viewing and blogging choices. Sometimes, though, it does get independently inspired by commercially-available film releases or new offline publications of a very worthwhile kind, as was the case today. And the result is a little bit of unsolicited free advertising…

          FSFF was so HAPPY to hear that Chilean documentarist Patricio Guzmán‘s films The Battle of Chile (19751978), The Pinochet Case (2001) and a particular personal favourite, Chile, Obstinate Memory (1997 – see the opening sequences above) have been released on a new DVD by a great and longstanding supporter of Latin American film culture — Icarus Films — that it decided to mark this very auspicious occasion with a related scholarly links-list in honour, and warm appreciation, of Guzmán’s hugely important films.