Course Description Part of the very active film production of Latin America has gone global. While certain films do not appear to aim at international audience, certain others purposefully pursue a ‘global’ market—although often limited to distribution in Europe and the United States. Former nationally-based industries have found a new life through international financing, and nationally-identified films are shot with an international cast, in different languages, and simultaneously geared to various local audiences. Additionally, Latin American film directors and performers have been incorporated into the powerful American cultural industry, in which they translate their experience and their cinematic language for a broader audience. ‘Traditional’ topics like cultural identity are refashioned for international consumption, and local issues are dramatized as already crisscrossed by global flows of which the films themselves partake. These new forms of circulation (at the level of financing, production, and final product) inform both the experience of making and the experience of watching films. We will look at films with these problems in mind. In addition, we will make reference to previous ways in which Latin American film production acquired international transcendence or scope (the so-called Golden Age of Mexican cinema, the 1960s ‘new cinema’ movement, etc).
Evaluation Three short papers (take home exams), 40% of the final grade (4-5 pages long). Students will answer analytical questions about assigned essays, films, and class discussion.
One term (research) paper 30% (7-8 pages long). Deadline May 7
Oral Presentation 10% (5 minutes presentation of a critical article of a particular film, summary and analysis of suggested films not watched by the whole class; or analysis of one segment of the film discussed in class)
Class participation, quizzes, Latte pre-class forum discussions or homework 20%
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-
-To understand how images travel across borders and how the image of Latin America is constructed through film and what kind of global projections are at stake
-We will study the visual market of film production and circulation (national film industries, transnational co-productions, festival and commercial exhibition, etc.) and understand how films are commercially packaged, in order to critically open up the film’s self-containment
-Student will be introduced to different film genres and styles (documentary, historical period pieces, melodrama, musical, animation, biopic, road-movie, science fiction, pscyhcological thriller, etc) and inquire in every case how is this genre or style mobilized for telling stories about Latin America
-Students will become familiar with film criticism by reading articles and discussing these perspectives in class (oral presentations, pre-class forums)
-The class will introduce basic film techniques and vocabulary, while training students in a form of historically and culturally aware visual literacy (through the intensive study of particular film scenes)
-The class will inevitably touch upon different moments of Latin American history (such as the Mexican Revolution, the Cuban revolution, dictatorship, democratic transition, etc.) with which students will get acquainted in preparation for class discussions
Participation in class
This course is a seminar—it assumes your active involvement at different levels. Classes are organized around discussions and exercises that presuppose that the student has read all of the assigned material. Participation in class is not only expected, it 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.
We will discuss films and some essays. The films are available to you on reserve and through Latte. Needless to say, it is your responsibility to watch the film before class. I recommend that students see each film at least twice. It is a good idea to take notes while watching: from plot summaries and names of the characters, to different elements such as compelling dialogues, observations about scenery, viewpoint of the camera, etc. That material might be useful in thinking about the film, writing about it, discussing it in class.
Writing assignments Papers are due at the beginning of the class. Late papers are not accepted, unless there is a documented hardship. Electronic submission is accepted only with my previous authorization.
Unexcused absences will affect your grade. For every 2 absences your grade will be diminished by one step (for example, from B to B-), until a maximum of 5 absences, for which you will receive a failing grade in the class. Three tardies equal one absence. Only documented hardships (such as a medical condition) count as excusable absences.
Tardiness will count as half an absence each.
Recommended readings and very important websites
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
You will inevitably bump into the following site when you search the internet. This encyclopedia is useful for basic information about particular films
Cronograma 12 de enero
Primera parte: Performing ‘Latin’ and the Hollywood consensus. Heroínas héroes, e íconos latinoamericanos en el mercado global.