04. Third Cinema in Latin America (1960s-70s)

“More, perhaps, than in other regions of the world, culture in Latin America inhabits a politicized zone, for Latin American artists and intellectuals acknowledge how profoundly history and politics inflect creativity. … Those Latin American artists and intellectuals who, in their commitment to transform society, have turned to film as the most promising instrument have also become engaged with transforming that instrument. They have not only developed new contents and new forms but also processes of production, diffusion, and reception. This double commitment to artistic innovation and social transformation accounts for both its interests and the importance.” Julianne Burton, Cinema and Social Change in Latin America

The Third Cinema, using inventive artistic practices to support “a new historical situation,” the decolonizing of the third world, and its citizens, envisioned a utilitarian, national project that put extra-textual conditions ahead of formal commitments. “A new poetics for the cinema will, above all, be a ‘partisan’ and ‘committed’ poetics, a ‘committed’ art, a consciously and resolutely ‘committed’ cinema—that is to say, an ‘imperfect’ cinema,” writes Julio Garcia Espinosa. Understanding traditional “cinema” as both commodities and vessels of corporate and imperial domination, they imagine a third cinema built upon people’s representations of their reality, and interpretations of it. “Cinematic realism does not lie in its alleged ability to capture reality ‘just like it is,'” explains Tomas Gutierrez Alea, “(which is ‘just like it appears to be’), but rather lies in its ability to reveal, through associations and connections between various isolated aspects of reality—that is to say, through creating a ‘new reality’—deeper, more essential layers of reality itself.”

Artists and theorists attempted to understand the interrelated roles of audience, artist, media education, film screening, popular culture, and American cultural domination. Bringing the utopian and Marxist zeal of the Soviets to the practical considerations of the cinema of the popular front, these theorists explain how cinema can contribute to a political and personal process of decolonalization within the continuing political economy of neo-colonialism. They are as committed to realism as to mass art forms. “The cinema of revolution is at the same time one of destruction and construction,” write Solanas and Getino in their “Toward A Third Cinema,” destruction of the image that neocolonialism has created of itself and of us, and construction of a throbbing, living reality which recaptures truth in any of its expressions.”


26 comments on “04. Third Cinema in Latin America (1960s-70s)

  1. Caroline Klepper
    Van Doan


    Tactic #1: Titles
    Capital letters, block letters in bold, jumping out onto screen to captivate audience’s attention.

    Tactic #2: Visuals
    flashing montage of shocking, provocative images, videos to engage the audience actively.

    Tactic #3: Visual
    Moving shots to keep the vision in motion.

    Finding ourselves in the midst of a Revolution, and at this particular stage of building socialism, we should be able to establish the premises of a cinema which would be genuinely and integrally revolutionary, active, mobilizing, stimulating, and—consequently—popular.
    by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

    Our understanding of the quote is that in the time of Revolution, people would want to challenge the conventional ideology starting by breaking out of the rules of First Cinema movie making and moving toward more provocative, stimulating, and socially revolutionary style.

    1. Caroline and Van: This is cursory but potentially interesting. It has no detail at all! What are the shots and words? I’d like to either see a video or some mock ups or photos! I like the quote but part of what makes it interesting is his use of the word “popular.” Can you think about that in relation to what you might make?

  2. Third World Cinema Assignment
    1. Close- Ups
    2. Quick Montage
    3. Sound distortion
    “For us, then, the revolution is the highest expression of culture because it will abolish artistic culture as a fragmentary human activity.” – JG Espinosa
    As this quote aptly illustrates we wish to place emphasis on the importance of young people celebrating their individuality by using revolutionary media to abolish the preconceptions of a preexisting artistic culture. We will no longer be fragmented, but recognized as an valuable individual piece to a greater cultural whole.



    1. Team Strange: While you beautifully satisfied your three tactics, I think this piece needs even more to get across your project’s meaning: a voice or voices? some text? some silence. I feel disorientation and some beauty but I’m ready for even more of his individuality. So maybe that’s his voice, or others talking about him? or a quote he loves?

    2. I think the layering of the visuals is unique, but it took me a while to really understand what type of message the video was trying to tell covey. From my own interpretation, the video shows the many layers of an individual life and we all are made of layers that make us who we are.

  3. Olufunke Adeniyi
    Naeemah Brunache

    Tactic #1: Blinking Frames
    – Showing the audience a contrast between two ideas, by flashing them one after another (the prices of healthy foods v. fast food)

    Tactic #2: Panning Shots
    – Using panning as an illusion to show a person doing the same thing, on different days, in different parts of a room, but in real time. (A student eating fast food, at different parts of the room and/or table)

    Tactic #3: Close – Ups
    – As done in the film we saw, we will be using close ups to lure the audience into how uncomfortable and disturbing the constant consumption of unhealthy food is. Without showing the actual subject, will have close ups of chewing (mouth), swallowing (neck), etc.

    “In reality the area of permitted protest of the System is much greater than the System is willing to admit. This gives the artists the illusion that they are acting ‘against the system’ by going beyond certain narrow limits; they do not realise that even anti-System art can be absorbed and utilised by the System, as both a brake and a necessary self-correction.”
    – Fernando Solanas & Octavio Getino

    To us, this quote means that revolutionaries believe that if they protest against the system, they are some what at an advantage. But, they fail to realize that The System has the position of power to change things and they can be used as tools to prove that the System is fine the way it is. This would work through criminalizing revolutionaries, and making small adjustments in policy that would seem like a revolution is occurring.

    1. Besides your project sounding both delicious and disgusting, I must say that the tactics you chose will work super well for your topic and I see how it can gauge the reactions of your audience and make them think about the everyday food we eat and how the motions of consuming a meal can be so mediocre, yet so twisted! The quote you provided makes a lot of sense in regard to your topic as well; a lot of capitalism is based off of the consumers’ needs and the enticing advertisements of foods, restaurants, products make can make it really hard for people who try to stay healthy to “protest the system.” Great job!

    2. I really like the tactics you chose and their use. I could really see these working in your film! However, I’m not sure you’re totally getting the quote which says that filmmakers who make work criticizing the system, and hoping to change it, can be incorporate into that very system. Like when McDonalds or Pepsi or Nike uses artists or activists to sell their products. So, you could show unhealthy food (intending to reveal something bad about it) and make people want to buy that food, for example.

    1. I think your video link is an appropriate representation of your brief quote. I would’ve liked to have seen a reiteration of your own projects ambitions and intentions in your post, just to gain a clearer understanding of how you hope to achieve something along the lines of what this video does. Good work!

    2. What a strong piece of media. Thanks for making something together. What are the tactics you were using? Is there a quote from Third Cinema that connects? Given the post above by Olu and Naeemah, it would be interesting for you all to think about how advertising and advertising images can plan a part of something that might also want to topple the dominance of products over people and how images help this. I also think your use of sound is not radical enough. The song smooths over the diverse and powerful images you gathered rather than using them to confront, upset, or critique. Maybe you need a voice over?

      1. Reading Marco’s comment I see that you DID choose a quote. Now I need to ask, do you think “people” made these images of themselves? Or did others? Who?

  4. Post on #Theory
    This weeks lesson on Third Cinema is a more then adequate example of how to put theory into practice. The reading delved deep into WHY this kind of cinema was created, the specific purposes it was setting out to accomplish as well as how it has sustained the test of time. The filmmakers theorized a very particular manner of filmmaking, one in which completely devalued the sensationalized commercial cinema of Hollywood and even Europe. It wanted to reach people’s minds not just their hearts and they did that by showing the audience REAL PEOPLE, not simply actors and actresses in costumes on a staged set. There is an inherent realism in their practice and the results fully illustrate the theories of cinema they had established prior to creating it. It is engrossing and probing without feeling obnoxious or pretentious in any way.

  5. Group: BCI
    Is advocating for immigrants rights not only in New York but all over the United States as well. To show how immigrants make up this great nation we (I, Julia , Luisa, mike, Jonathan , and Julie ) put together a video that demonstrates the journey we or our parents face to make a life for ourselves in the United States.


    1. Chris, Julia, Luisa, Mike, Jonathan and Julie: It was really refreshing to see you all turn the camera on yourselves and our film community, something we’ve hardly seen in this class this far even though you all have stories of your own to share. I appreciate this turn!
      It would be great if you could name the tactics you selected. I certainly see focus on lived consequences of deo-colonization via stories of immigration, But I imagine that third cinema might have been preachier about this! Also, soft music smooths rather disrupts or agitates. Finally, not really clear about the opening quote and its connections to what we then see. Someone spouting a manifesto about this would have been very Third Cinema.

  6. In the same way Hora De Los Hornos used authentic native voices alongside voices and perspectives from the rich, we plan on interviewing our subjects in their natural environments (biology labs, lobbies of different departments, offices) on campus, to create a socioeconomic profile of the types of students who pirate.

    We can discuss Julian Assange’s more popular story.

    Fast cuts to draw the eye at the beginning of the film, showing pirated films, employ sensory overload.

    1. “art… is a tractor plowing over the audience’s psyche.”’

      Sergei Eisenstein

      Our goal is to radically change the way our audience thinks about textbook piracy and access to education, through access to its materials.

    1. This is a strong and beautiful statement. It has focus and power. What tactics were you using? Could you be even more bold given the ferocity of the statement?

  7. Team BBW ft. Rush Hour: Aeris, Esmeralda, Kevin, McKenzie, Viviani
    Topic: The Effects of Neo-Colonialism on Sexual/Aesthetic Preferences.

    Chosen Tactics:
    1) The Black Frames
    – We thought that by inserting the black frames in-between inserts of our group members going from dark to light, it would provide our audience with some time to subconsciously take in those images and recognize the juxtaposition of our subject and the relevance of our theme.
    2) Close-Ups
    – The inserts of our group members will be focused on their expressions and themselves. The fact that it is a close-up forces the audience to look at us and not the things around us and to register the differences in our backgrounds through our appearances.
    3) Contrasting Images
    – We will be putting contrasting footage next to each other for the audience to see our theme and be exposed to the ongoing lesson we are trying to learn and teach.

    “A profound debate on the role of intellectuals and artists before liberation is today enriching the perspectives of intellectual work all over the world. However, this debate oscillates between two poles: one which proposes to relegate all intellectual work capacity to a specifically political or political-military function, denying perspectives to all artistic activity with the idea that such activity must ineluctably be absorbed by the System, and the other which maintains an inner duality of the intellectual: on the one hand, the ‘work of art’, ,the privilege of beauty’, an art and a beauty which are not necessarily bound to the needs of the revolutionary political process, and, on the other, a political commitment which generally consists in signing certain anti-imperialist manifestos. In practice, this point of view means the separation of politics and art.”
    – Fernando Solanas & Octavio Getino

    From this quote, we believe that if an art is made with political and beauty ideas behind it, then it must support a revolutionary movement, or else the art is obsolete and loses its meaning. An art can be beautiful and not political, but if it is beautiful and political, then it is made to support the ideals that inspired it in the first place. Much can be said regarding our project, which we believe deserves beauty as well as a revolutionary message behind it, without dramatizing or romanticizing it, but to only spread our thoughts and opinions.

    Project: Shot-List (https://tinyurl.com/ManifestoShotList)
    Links in shot-list:
    1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAIgDredHpw
    2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhKYg641K3c
    3) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYfyzsIWm2c
    4) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR8fMlJgkME
    5) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-3NnMUXlv8

  8. Post #6- Theory
    For this entry, I would like to reflect on my recent film, Powder Room. (click link for an excerpt) https://vimeo.com/149272600

    Powder Room a short slapstick dark comedy ala 1930s Chaplin movie, shot in 16mm black and white film, about a young colored man who
    breaks in an exclusive(white only) back alley speakeasy by applying white powder all over his face and hands. What lies inside the speakeasy is a labyrithine hallways filled with doors that leads to randomly odd places. The film starts with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” A sentence that establishes the existential question of individuality that the film is trying to convey. The concept of the film manifested from my personal questioning/confrontation of my country’s (Philippines) colonial past and how it conditioned my psyche to have an automatic affinity of everything white. Even the quotation is already an evidence of my preferential impulses. The film’s mis-en-scene also cites film history and how people of color with very little exception have little or poor representation in Hollywood cinema ever since its beginnings. We might have heard of Oscar Micheaux in film history classes but there’s a relatively lower chances of hearing anything about early colored Hollywood figures. In a way I saw a Black and White binary in terms of representation and academic study of film, and everything in between felt like just a side note or a miscellaneous subject matter that is not necessary to learn about. As an immigrant Filipino filmmaker studying in America I felt like I have no place for American cinema, and this brought anxiety to me because I was thinking that the stories I have won’t matter since I am not black or white. The main character, Al, after seeing a white man with two attractive white women entering a back alley speakeasy exclusively for white people, he applies white powder all over his face in order to enter the establishment. Like Al, I felt that in order for me to succeed in the film industry, I have to wear some sort of mask (in this case a white mask) and compromise my own identity.

    Though the film have circulated in several small film festivals around New York, a film festival that debuted in some city in U.K. and one festival in LA, I consider that the film was a failure. Not that I was expecting it to be a big breakthrough. But, what I was hoping was having at least a few member of the audience acknowledge the existential anxiety and frustration of media/film artists who are from a third, post-colonial, countries that are trying to break through the American film/media landscape. At least from my experience in the Q&A portion of the festivals that I managed to attend, the audience’s attention are focused on the fact that it was like a Charlie Chaplin film, and the fact that it was shot on film became a bigger distraction because the audience and even the panels of some of the festivals focused on the technical aspect of the film and not the creative importance of it being shot in black and white celluloid film. I felt like the film was received by the audience as simply a homage to slapstick comedy and the dying art of celluloid film making (though in some degree it is) but nothing more beyond that.

    I made the film before I have ever take any higher level film theory classes but I’m glad it happened that way because now I can step back and assess clearly what are the failures amidst the successes of the film. One of the influential film ideology that I have stumbled upon and of which we have discussed in class, is the Third Cinema. Reflecting on Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino’s article, “Towards A Third Cinema”. I realized why the film failed at least in the service of expressing the existential frustration I’ve presented above. The first realization is that I focused on the art first before the voice. This is where having my lack of theoretical knowledge had failed me because I just worked mostly on my instinct and that same instinct is conditioned to see the process and context of film making in a reactionary sense. In other words, I didn’t manage to go beyond the veil of “universality” and the bourgeois criterion of a “good” film. Perhaps it is the reason why a lot of the audience member saw the film as a generalist film that touches about the universality of being an outsider under certain social setting, and didn’t evoke much interest in going beyond this universality to a more specific voice. In a way, the conventional techniques I’ve used, even though they are dated, still read as familiar to my audience hence inevitably relating it to what it appears to be. It didn’t disrupt them enough in this comfortable familiarity to invite them to go the implications of the film beyond the film itself. Powder Room follows a certain genre within the dominant Hollywood system, which is a silent slapstick comedy and was viewed as such. Any possible creation meaning beyond the “universal” is almost nil. Looking back now, the idea of universality within the hegemonic system is a trap for most artists and audiences alike (my self included) since it creates a mode of creation of meaning that is self-serving to the dominant ideology which oppresses people that does not fit to its constructs. Third Cinema’s raison d’etre is to break just this to open up new modes of making films and creation of meaning. The ideology of the Third Cinema movement opened new possibilities in making films outside of the hegemonic capitalist paradigm that fits my creative impulses as an artist from a Third World country. It provided not just an ideology but a set of aesthetics that could be used to specifically express existential conundrums in a way that is truly our own and not succumbing to the dominant mode of making films. Third Cinema gave a fool-proof way of making revolutionary films without it being engulfed by the capitalist system since it rejects its every convention.

    Having all these realizations, if I were to express the same qualms in my work, I came to a conclusion that I should put the voice first before art, or at least don’t let your craft (which is most probably reactionary in nature) distract your audience to your voice by making the best looking film as you possible can. Now this is not to say to not make visually appealing films, but aiming to create films that have as high of a production value usually seen in Hollywood should not be the ultimate goal. We as film/media makers should always prioritize that our voices are heard even if that means breaking away from our idea of a “good film” or throwing everything we learn in film school in the trash can and make an incredibly uncomfortable,and unappealing film for as long as it is made to faithfully express our artistic voice as supposed to impressing our audience. Had I learned this before I probably would have made a totally different film (and perhaps save my producer a lot of money) and perhaps have less regrets. But hey, that’s how we learn—through trial and error (and making theory), don’t we?

  9. Post #6: Theory
    Third Cinema is a great example of how theory is put into practice in filmmaking. Third cinema wants to prove the true authenticity by using real people instead of actors and real locations instead of a set, like Hollywood cinema. The filmmakers use of real people and real situations in film show the true beauty and failures of Latin American countries. The sense of realism that comes with Third Cinema theorizes the filmmakers purpose of creating such films.

  10. It’s interesting how he himself is looking at the world like he’s free to explore it when in fact he is just as trapped as the bird in the cage. The only difference is that the dead bird is now free while the living is locked up in its cage.

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