15 December 2011

Cinema and Social Change in Latin America

There are number of important book length studies in Latin American Cinema: one thinks of Carlos Mora's Mexican Cinema (University of California Press, 1982), Michael Chanan's Twenty-Five Years of the New Latin American Cinema (British Film Institute, 1983) and The Cuban Image (BFI/Indiana University Press, 1985), Randal Johnson's Cinema Novo X 5 (University of Texas Press, 1984) and The Film Industry in Brazil (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987), Gaizka de Usabel's The High Noon of Latin American Films in Latin America (UMI Research Press, 1982), and Randal Johnson and Robert Stam's Brazilian Cinema (Associated University Press, 1995). Julianne Burton's Cinema and Social Change in Latin America (1986) is another important addition to this field. Consisting of 20 interviews with key directors, actors, critics, and media activists from Latin America, the book indirectly offers a historical overview of three decades of socially-conscious filmmaking as practiced in a wide diversity of countries.

06 December 2011

African Aesthetics in the Films of Ousmane Sembene

In the 1960s, several African directors of the francophone region launched their filmmaking careers. Their films mark the pioneering of genre films that portray Africa through African lenses. The most well-known director among them is Ousmane Sembene, who achieved fame through the prominence of his films, 'Borom Sarret' (1963) and 'La Noire de...' (AKA 'Black Girl,' 1967). As we assess Sembene's film practice, it becomes clear that he is a gifted griot, an artist who has developed a unique cinematic method of 'Africanizing knowledge' - to paraphrase V. Y. Mudimbe. Africanization of knowledge hereby implies the creation of indigenous aesthetics, and this aesthetic orientation can be traced to two different traditions: the tradition originating from the conventions of dominant film practices, and that of traditional narrative style indebted to the African oral tradition.