Politicized Art Update #3

Hi all!

My research is nearly at its close and I am looking forward to putting all the pieces together in my paper, but first, I wanted to update one final time on the research itself before I transition fully to writing!

This last section has primarily been focused on Third Cinema itself and teasing out the complexity of the ideology and methodology, which are frequently very much so interconnected. For example, the stated goal in the quintessential Third Cinema manifesto, “Towards a Third Cinema” from Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, is to create “films that the System cannot assimilate…or making films that directly and explicitly set out to fight the System” and bring about a “decolonisation of culture.” However, these more ideological goals are necessarily intertwined, as is the methodology proposed. This includes creating films that are “open-ended” and distributed in a way that avoids the spectacle of Hollywood-inspired filmmaking models, as well as promoting active citizen engagement in the distribution and creation processes. In fact, the notion of spectatorship is eliminated and the individuals who would have been spectators in a different context actually become the protagonists of the art work.

All of this is to say, Third Cinema is a practice that, in my view, is internally consistent but somewhat self-contained. Although Solanas and Getino state in the manifesto, and even were compelled to continue clarifying years later, that the recommendations they give are what worked specifically for them in their context, and other anti-colonial struggles need to develop a method that works for their context, the interconnectedness of the ideology and methodology, changing one in a different context often changes the other as well. For example, Julio García Espinosa’s manifesto for the Imperfect Cinema movement from Cuba–considered part of the same New Latin American Cinema wave as Third Cinema–was published around the same time as Solanas and Getino’s and contains a ideological position or two that is meaningfully different. The methodology is slightly different, then, as well. However, there are many situations in which an artist/artistic movement has a similar goal to Third Cinema but radically different methodology, or in which the methodology is applied but the goals are very different.

The former often involves other countries fighting against cultural imperialism, seeking to create “our culture, our films, and our sense of beauty” but subvert rather than antagonize the system, or even employ market/spectacle modes of distribution. The latter often includes artists from Latin America, the United States, and Europe who employ Third Cinema methodology, especially the notion of active citizens, collaboration, and democratized distribution channels to inspire political change and fight the injustices they perceive within their respective communities, but which the artists are perfectly alright with the system subsuming their art or even work with governments and established institutions because they are not looking to dismantle the system in the same way the Third Cinema filmmakers were, more so to reform it. Ironically, the methodology is what Solanas and Getino seemed most flexible on, yet it seems to be the most persistent and widely applicable part of their discussion today.

I would highly recommend reading Solanas and Getino’s “Towards a Third Cinema” and Julio García Espinosa’s “For an imperfect cinema” if you are interested in further reading for this update.

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