Latin American Global Cinema

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HISP 192

Latin American Global Cinema

T-F 12:30-2pm

Professor Fernando J. Rosenberg

Office hours Tuesdays 2-3:30pm, or by appointment

Shiffman 109
Course Description
Certain sectors of the very active Latin American film industry have gone global. Many films produced in the region pursue an international market and translate their vision and cinematic language for new audiences, while a few Latin American film directors and performers have gained visibility in U.S. mainstream cultural industry. Formerly nationally-based industries have found a new life through international financing and reaching international circuits of distribution and recognition (e.g. art house theaters, festivals, etc.) ‘Traditional’ topics and narratives (cultural identity, romantic or domestic plots, political or historical dramas, etc.) are refashioned for international consumption. Even “local” plots are portrayed as already crisscrossed by global flows (financial, demographic, symbolic) of which the films themselves partake. We will look at a variety of films with these intersecting problems in mind, without losing sight of the cultural, historical, political background to which these films make reference, and of the history of film production behind these contemporary examples.
Three mini-essays (take home exams of 4-5 pages long), 40% of the final grade. Students will answer analytical questions about films discussed in class

Class participation, weekly homework or Latte pre-class forum discussions 30%

One term (research) paper 30% (7-8 pages long). Deadline May 7
98 -100 = A+ 78 - 79 = C+ 59 and bellow = F

94 - 97 = A 74 - 77 = C

90 - 93 = A- 70 - 73 = C-

88 - 89 = B+ 68 - 69 = D+

84 - 87 = B 64 - 67 = D

80 - 83 = B- 60 - 63 = D-

Class objectives

-To understand how images travel across borders and how the image of Latin America is constructed and projected globally in film

-To underscore in each case-study the visual market of film production, circulation, and exhibition-consumption (national film industries, transnational co-productions, festival and commercial exhibition, etc.) and understand the different forces that influence the final product

-Student will be introduced to classical film techniques, styles, and genres (documentary, historical period pieces, melodrama, musical, animation, biopic, road-movie, science fiction?, pscyhcological thriller, etc) in order to build a historically and culturally aware visual literacy

-Students will become familiar with film criticism by reading critical articles and discussing these perspectives in class, in oral presentations, and in pre-class forums

-Films will serve as entry points to get acquainted with essential aspects of Latin American complex constitution (such as coloniality in its different manifestations, historical and contemporary political struggles; cultural/artistic trends; race, gender, and class variables)

Commitment and participation

This course is a seminar—it assumes your active involvement at different levels. Class dynamics depend on discussions and exercises that presuppose intense your involvement, for which conscientious preparation is essential (basically: watch/study films carefully, re-watch certain scenes, read accompanying material, write down your ideas in pre-class forums). Consequently, participation in class constitutes a substantial part of the final grade. In case of absence, the student is entirely responsible for all of the material covered in class.

All films are as Latte videos; they are readably available for you to watch at your convenience. Make good use of this incredible resource. It is a good idea to take notes while watching: for example, plot summaries, occurrence of scenes you might want to revisit in class, film techniques you find interesting, etc. That material might be useful in thinking about the film, writing about it, discussing it in class. Needless to say, this close-watching experience will greatly facilitate your ability to address the critical challenges presented in class and exams.
Adult content

Most films to be discussed in class contain what is conventionally called ‘adult content,’ which might be uncomfortable or challenging to watch, or maybe to talk about. This includes scenes of verbal or physical violence or abuse, or scenes with nudity and sexual acts. However, I understand these films offer a complex (i.e. not merely exploitative and/or spectacular) perspective on these issues, which we will try to explore critically in class. If you feel uncomfortable discussing a particular film, please let me know in advance. If you find a film particularly troubling to watch for any reason, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Writing assignments

Late submission are not accepted, unless there is a documented hardship. Papers will be lowered by one level for each day they are late (for example from B to B-).

Latte forums are due before class.

Electronic submission of essays is accepted only with my previous authorization (word processor file format, as PDFs don’t allow electronic corrections/notes/comments).

The format for any writing assignments should be double spaced, 1” margins, font 12 Times New Roman or similar.
Spanish learning

I understand many students are language learners. Your presence in this class indicates that you are committed to improve your language and writing abilities, and I will make every effort to support this endeavor and to accommodate different levels of language ability in class. As participation is key to success, it is important that nobody feels intimidated in the class setting by the different ability of language learners. Logically, native or heritage speakers will feel more comfortable speaking; if you are not one of them, you are in the majority. I hope you see this as an amazing opportunity to partake in a real language setting—which is a proven pedagogical path for advanced language learners to enhance their skills. You are also encouraged to consult with me in class or in private, and to use university resources such as BUGS.
Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s ideas or words in your writing without acknowledging the source. It is a serious offense, and may result in failing the class and suspension from the university. When in doubt, see me or consult the student resources listed by Brandeis Library & Technology Services ( You can also consult this handout on “How to avoid plagiarism” (

Absence Policy

Unexcused absences will affect your grade. If you miss more than 2 classes, your final participation grade for the course will be lowered by a full letter grade per absence. Missing more than 4 classes will results in failing the class. Three late arrivals (arriving at or after 12:40) will be counted as one absence. Excusable absences include religious observance, illness, family emergencies.

Laptops and mobile devices:

You can use your laptop or tablet in class to take notes and access materials only. Any other usage constitutes a disrespect to the class and to the academic mission. Please control your impulse to navigate the internet or to multitask for the duration of the class; this exercise in self-discipline is useful and promotes mental health. If your behavior shows you are unable to abide by this principle, I might prohibit your laptop usage for the rest of the semester. Use of cell phones in class for talking, texting or reading/writing email is prohibited—please turn it off and keep it away. If I see you using your phone during class, you will be asked to desist, and it will be counted against your attendance grade for that day.


If you are a student with a documented disability on record at Brandeis University and wish to have a reasonable accommodation made for you in this class, please see me immediately.

Books and electronic resources

Film Art. An Introduction. David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson. McGraw-Hill, various editions.

This is a great searchable magazine for film reviews and articles

A dictionary of film studies, by Annette Kuhn (online access through library)
From the Yale Film Studies film analysis website

Columbia University film language glossary

Other film glossaries
En español

You will inevitably bump into the following site when you search the internet. This encyclopedia is useful for basic information about particular films


Aviso: Este programa es un borrador que puede modificarse a lo largo del semestre, para facilitar discusiones de clase, y agregar o quitar algunas películas en base a intereses que pueden surgir en la dinámica de clase. La nueva versión del cronograma va a ser siempre subida a Latte.

12 de enero

Primera parte: Heroínas e íconos latinoamericanos en el mercado global. Siglo XX

Performing ‘Latina’ and the Hollywood consensus:

16 Ver Carmen Miranda: Bananas is my Business de Helena Soldberg

19 Realismo mágico y proyecciones nacionales. Melodrama y siglo XX

Ver Como agua para el chocolate de Alfonso Arau

23 Iconos latinoamericanos globales (nostalgia y revolución). Biópicos y siglo XX

Ver Frida, de Julie Taymor

26 Iconos latinoamericanos globales (nostalgia y revolución). Biópicos y siglo XX

Ver Diario de Motocicleta, de Walter Salles

[Films sugeridos: Neruda, de Pablo Larraín Evita, de Alan Parker]

30 Amores en tránsito

ver Chico y Rita, de Fernando Trueba

[sugeridos: Buena Vista Social Club, de Win Wenders; Fresa y Chocolate, de Tomás Gutierrez Aléa]

2 de febrero. Discusión de temas generales y pendientes. Artículos críticos.

6 Entregar primer ensayo.

Segunda Parte: Presente y transición. Nuevas rutas, nuevos sujetos, nuevos conflictos

Amores en tránsito.

Ver Y tu mamá también, de Alfonso Cuarón

9 Cuerpos, ciudad, y violencia

Amores Perros de González Iñarritu

[sugeridas: 21 grams y Babel de Alfonso Gonzalez Iñarritu]

13 Artículos críticos. Seguimos discusión de Y tu mamá tambien y Amores Perros.

16 Bordes/cuerpos. Juventud y viaje

Sleep Dealer, de Alex Rivera;

[sugerida María Full of Grace de Joshua Marston; Señorita Extraviada de Lourdes Portillo; Quién es Dayani Cristal? de Mark Silver]

27 Ciudad global: Mercado y caída (boom and bust)

Ver Nueve reinas, de Fabián Bielinsky

[sugerido Relatos Salvajes de Damián Szifron; Aquarius de Kleber Mendonça Filho]

2 de marzo. Ciudad global. El planeta-favela I

Cidade de Deus, de Fernando Meirelles

[sugerido: Pelo Malo, de Mariana Rondón, 7 cajas de Juan Carlos Maneglia]

6 Seguridad. El planeta-favela II

Tropa de Elite, de José Padilha

[sugeridas Crónicas de Sebastián Cordero]

9 Discusión de temas generales y pendientes. Artículos críticos.
Marzo 12 7pm Actividad extra-crédito: The Kiss of the Spider Woman, by Héctor Babenco. Proyección de este clásico en copia de 35 mm.
13 Entregar segundo ensayo.

Pobreza y mercancía. El planeta-favela III

Ver Waste Land, de Lucy Walker

[sugerida Favela Rising, by Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary]

16 Tercera parte. Viajes y retornos.

Juventud, viaje, y retorno I

Ver María Full of Grace

20 Juventud, viaje, y retorno II

Ver Terra estrangeira, de Walter Salles

23 Postcolonialismo, pos-occidentalismo, otras epistemes

Ver El abrazo de la serpiente, de Ciro Guerra

[sugeridas: At play in the field of the lords, de Hector Babenco; Aguirre, the Wrath of God, de Werner Herzog; The Mission, de Roland Joffé; También la lluvia, de Iciar Bollain; Alamar, de Pedro González Rubio; The shape of water, de Guillermo del Toro]

27 Documental y derechos humanos.

Ver El botón de nácar, de Patricio Guzmán

[sugeridas: Granito, How to Nail a Dictator, de Pamela Yates; Death and the Maiden, de Roman Polanski]
10 de abril Directoras emergentes I

Ver Lucrecia Martel. Ver La ciénaga

[otras películas: La niña santa de Martel; Silent Light de Carlos Reygadas]

13 Directoras emergentes II. Ver Lucía Puenzo XXY

17 Lecturas críticas, y discusión de temas pendientes

20 Entregar segundo ensayo

Directoras emergentes. Lucrecia Martel. Ver La mujer sin cabeza

24 Directoras emergentes III. Claudia Llosa. La teta asustada [otras películas: Madeinusa]

25 (Brandeis Friday) Conclusiones, trabajos finales

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