Latin American cinema

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Latin American cinema refers collectively to the film output and film industries of Latin America. Latin American film is both rich and diverse, but the main centers of production have been Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba. Latin American cinema flourished after the introduction of sound, which added a linguistic barrier to the export of Hollywood film south of the border.


An early success for the Latin American cinema, La Nobleza Gaucha, was an Argentinean film directed by Eduardo Martinez de la Pera in 1915.

Mexican movies from the Golden Era in the 1940s and 1950s are significant examples of Latin American cinema, with a huge industry comparable to the Hollywood of those years. Mexican movies were exported and exhibited in all Latin America and Europe. The film Maria Candelaria (1944) by Emilio Fernández, won the Palme D'Or in Cannes Film Festival. Famous actors and actresses from this period include María Félix, Pedro Infante, Dolores del Río, Jorge Negrete and comedian Cantinflas. Argentine cinema was a big industry in the first half of the twentieth century.

The 1950s and 1960s saw a movement towards Third Cinema, led by the Argentine filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino. In Brazil, the Cinema Novo movement created a particular way of making movies with critical and intellectual screenplays, a clearer photography related to the light of the outdoors in a tropical landscape, and a political message.

In Colombia, Carlos Mayolo, Luís Ospina and Andrés Caicedo led an alternative movement that was to have lasting influence, founding the Grupo de Cali, which they called Caliwood and producing many films as leading exponents of the "New Latin American Cinema" of the 1960s and 70s, including Oiga, Vea, Cali de película, Agarrando pueblo, Pura sangre and Carne de tu carne.[1]

Cuban cinema has enjoyed much official support since the Cuban revolution, and important film-makers include Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.

In Argentina, after a series of military governments that shackled culture in general, the industry re-emerged after the 1976–1983 military dictatorship to produce The Official Story in 1985, becoming the first of only two Latin American movies to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Other nominees for Argentina were The Truce (1974), Camila (1984), Tango (1998), Son of the Bride (2001) and The Secret In Their Eyes (2009, which also won the award).

More recently, a new style of directing and stories filmed has been tagged as "New Latin American Cinema," although this label was also used in the 1960s and 70s.

In Mexico movies such as Como agua para chocolate (1992), Cronos (1993), Amores perros (2000), Y tu mamá también (2001), Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and Babel (2006) have been successful in creating universal stories about contemporary subjects, and were internationally recognised, as in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Mexican directors Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Guillermo del Toro and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga have gone on to Hollywood success.

The Argentine economic crisis affected the production of films in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but many Argentine movies produced during those years were internationally acclaimed, including El abrazo partido (2004), Roma (2004) and Nueve reinas (2000), which was the basis for the 2004 American remake Criminal.

The modern Brazilian film industry has become more profitable inside the country, and some of its productions have received prizes and recognition in Europe and the United States. Movies like Central Station (1998) and Cidade de Deus (2002) have fans around the world, and its directors have taken part in American and European film projects.

There is a movement in the US geared towards promoting and exposing audiences to Latin American filmmakers. The New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema - which takes place in Providence, Rhode Island, is a good example.

See also[edit]



  • Julianne Burton (ed.): Cinema and Social Change in Latin America. Conversations with Filmmakers, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986
  • Julianne Burton (ed.): The Social Documentary in Latin America, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990
  • Alberto Elena, Marina Diaz Lopez (ed.): The Cinema of Latin America (24 Frames), Columbia Univ Press, 2003, ISBN 1-903364-83-3
  • John King: Magical Reels: A History of Cinema in Latin America, New edition, Verso, 2000, ISBN 1-85984-233-X
  • Deborah Shaw (ed.): Contemporary Latin American Cinema: Breaking Into the Global Market, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, ISBN 0-7425-3915-6
  • Donald F. Stevens (ed.): Based on a True Story: Latin American History at the Movies, Scholarly Resources, 1997, ISBN 0-8420-2781-5

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Isabel Maurer Queipo (ed.): "Directory of World Cinema: Latin America", intellectbooks, Bristol 2013, ISBN 9781841506180