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Film and Visual Arts module - film still

Key Issues and Texts: Cinema and the Politics of Representation in Latin America

Primary texts (films, books or catalogues) are listed for each weekly seminar. You will be expected to have viewed or studied all of the texts set for each seminar, together with some of the secondary reading suggested in each of the bibliographies.

Some suggestions for general reading on Film Theory, Visual Culture and Latin American cinema are available here and you are advised to dip into as many of the books suggested here as possible, in order to gain familiarity with the terminology and concepts associated with the analysis of film.

Some ‘key issues’ relating to each seminar are identified – you may wish to focus on one or more of these in a seminar paper or an essay.

Lent 2019

Seminar 1: Film, Politics and History in Latin America (MC) 

Primary texts 

  • Memorias del subdesarrollo (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Cuba, 1968)
  • Terra em transe (Glauber Rocha, 1967)

Key issues 

  • The role of the filmmaker/ intellectual
  • Relation of cinematic representation to policy
  • 'Dominant Cinema/ Counter Cinema/ Third Cinema': ideological positions; aesthetic strategies; self reflexivity, modes of film-making and distribution
  • The influence of French New Wave, Soviet montage, Italian neorealism, Brecht
  • Neocolonialism and revolution in Latin America
  • Film and the failure of the teleology of history
  • Spectatorship and subjectivity


Seminar 2: The Transnational Queer: Sexuality, Cinema and the Body (GM)


  • XXY (dir. Lucía Puenzo, Argentina, 2007)
  • Praia do Futuro (dir. Karim Aïnouz, Brazil, 2014)
  • Taekwondo (dir. Marco Berger, 2016)

Key Issues

  • Screening queer corporeality in Latin American film;
  • Filmic embodiment and the haptic;
  • Representations of sex, sexuality and nature;
  • Cinematic masculinity/ies;
  • Transnational queer cinema, film festivals and the ‘global gaze’;
  • Queer art, politics and activism.


Seminar 3: Necropolitics and Biopoetics: War, Capital and the Body in Contemporary Colombian Film (RO) 

Primary texts

  • País de los pueblos sin dueños (Mauricio Acosta, 2009 - documentary)
  • Porfirio (Alejandro Landes, 2011 - fiction) 
  • Requiem N.N. (Juan Manuel Echavarría, 2013 - documentary) ​

Key issues

  • Approaches to violence in Colombian cinema
  • Violence, extractive economics and the production/destruction of space 
  • Bodily impairment and its intersections with ‘race’
  • Biopolitics as ‘necropolitics’ in the global south 
  • Death and the production of capital


Seminar 4: Waste Not Want Not: Film and Garbage (GK)

This seminar looks at some key documentary films from Brazil (and optionally one from Mexico) dealing with the representation of waste, pollution and garbage.

Primary texts

  • Jorge Furtado et al. Ilha das Flores (Brazil, 1989) (short)
  • Eduardo Coutinho, Boca de Lixo (Brazil, 1992)
  • Marcos Prado, Estamira (Brazil, 2004)
  • Lucy Walker et al., Lixo Extraordinário (Waste Land, Brazil and UK, 2010)
  • Eugenio Polgovsky, Resurrección (Mexico, 2016) - optional extra

Key issues

  • Ethics of waste, garbage and “refuse”
  • The “aesthetics” of garbage and representational economy
  • The relationship between commodities and garbage
  • The waste cycle: what leaks out?
  • The human-waste interface: people as garbage
  • Can garbage speak?
  • Recycling garbage into art / film
  • Garbage and space


Seminar 5: Animals, Landscapes and Violence in Contemporary Latin American Film (LB)

Primary texts:

  • Lucrecia Martel, La ciénaga (Argentina, 2001) and Pescados (cortometraje, Argentina, 2010)
  • Carlos Reygadas, Post Tenebras Lux (México, 2012)
  • Ciro Guerra, El abrazo de la serpiente (Colombia, 2015)

Optional additional viewing for this topic:

  • Laura Citarella and Verónica Llinás, La mujer de los perros (Argentina, 2016)
  • Rodrigo Rey Rosa, Lo que soñó Sebastián (Guatemala, 2004)
  • Lisandro Alonso, Los muertos (Argentina, 2004)
  • Tatiana Huezo’s Tempestad (México, 2016)

Key issues

  • The relationship between landscape, capitalism and (neo-)colonialism
  • Questions of perspective, framing and dwelling in relation to filmic landscapes
  • Temporality, spatiality and the nonhuman
  • The role of animals within metaphor, mimicry and allegory
  • Intersections of violence, death and the nonhuman; the sacrificial economy of the animal
  • The ‘production’ of nature, and the participation of film in this process
  • ‘How forests think’; semiosis beyond the human; the question of representation (Kohn, 2013)
  • Evaluating post-anthropocentric frameworks within film studies and anthropology


Seminar 6: Cuban Film of the Special Period (GK)