Third Cinema

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Third Cinema (Spanish: Tercer Cine) is a Latin American film movement that started in the 1960s–70s which decries neocolonialism, the capitalist system, and the Hollywood model of cinema as mere entertainment to make money. The term was coined in the manifesto Hacia un tercer cine (Towards a Third Cinema), written in the late 1960s by Argentine filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, members of the Grupo Cine Liberación and published in 1969 in the cinema journal Tricontinental by the OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America[1]).


Solanas and Getino's manifesto considers 'First Cinema' to be the Hollywood production model that promulgates bourgeois values to a passive audience through escapist spectacle and individual characters. 'Second Cinema' is the European art film, which rejects Hollywood conventions but is centred on the individual expression of the auteur director. Third Cinema is meant to be non-commercialized, challenging Hollywood's model. Third Cinema rejects the view of cinema as a vehicle for personal expression, seeing the director instead as part of a collective; it appeals to the masses by presenting the truth and inspiring revolutionary activism. Solanas and Getino argue that traditional exhibition models also need to be avoided: the films should be screened clandestinely, both in order to avoid censorship and commercial networks, but also so that the viewer must take a risk to see them.[2]

There are still some difficulties to clearly define what is considered "First Cinema" versus "Third Cinema". For example, Bollywood, one of the largest centres of film production in the world, can be viewed as resistance against "First Cinema" due to political, cultural and aesthetic differences, but at the same time it can also be said that Bollywood is a popular commercialized industry [3]


Third Cinema manifestos and theories evolved in the 1960s and 1970s as a response to the social, political and economic realities in Latin American countries which were experiencing oppression from perceived Neo-colonial policies. In their manifesto, Solana and Getino describe Third Cinema as a cinematic movement and a dramatic alternative to First Cinema, which was produced in Hollywood, for the purpose of entertaining its audiences; and from Second Cinema that increased the author’s liberty of expression. Fundamentally different, Third Cinema films sought to inspire revolution against class, racial and gender inequalities. Spectators were called upon to reflect on social injustices and the process by which their realities occurred, and to take action to transform their conditions. Even though Third Cinema films arose during revolutionary eras in Latin America and other countries, this filmmaking is still influential today. This style of filmmaking includes a radical form of production, distribution and exhibition that seeks to expose the living conditions of people at the grassroots level.[4]

Purpose and Goals of Third Cinema Third Cinema seeks to expose the process by which oppression occurs; and to criticize those responsible for social inequality in a country or community. Some of the goals of Third Cinema are:

  • Raise political consciousness in the viewer/spectator
  • Expose historical, social, political and/or economic policies that have led to exploitive conditions for the nation
  • Engage spectators in reflection which will inspire them to take revolutionary action and improve their conditions
  • Create films that express the experiences of the masses of a particular region
  • Produce and distribute films that are uncensored by oppressive entities

Production Due to their political nature, Third Cinema films were often censored and therefore, the production and distribution of these films were innovative. Films used documentary clips, news reels, photographs, video clips, interviews and/or statistics and in some cases, non-professional actors. These production elements are combined in an inventive manner to create a message that is specific to its local audience. The staff in production share all aspects of the production process by working collectively. In Third Cinema, for example, a Director can be the Cameraman, the Photographer or the Writer at different phases of the production. Since Third Cinema films were highly politicized, they often lacked the funding and support needed for production or distribution and instead sought funding outside government agencies or traditional financing opportunities available to commercial films. Other unique aspects of Third Cinema film production is the use of their local natural landscape for film shootings often in parts of the country not previously seen. This unique feature, was augmented by highlighting the local history and culture of its nation.[5]

Influential Pioneers[edit]

Beside the Argentine Grupo Cine Liberación, Third Cinema includes Raymundo Gleyzer's Cine de la Base, the Brazilian Cinema Nôvo, the Cuban revolutionary cinema and the Bolivian film director Jorge Sanjinés.[6]

Brazilian political filmmaker Glauber Rocha began to denounce Cinema Novo, Neorealism, and the Nouvelle Vague's influences and declared that the Third World revolution would overturn not only Hollywood but also European auteurism. This included the work of Sergei Eisenstein, Jean-Luc Godard, and Roberto Rossellini. He echoed the views in the manifestos "imperfect cinema" and "Third Cinema" to support his ideas.

African filmmaker Med Hondo became one of the strongest advocates for Africa's version of Third Cinema. He was a forceful supporter of African films reflecting popular political struggles and cultural differences. Hondo and his supporters continued this unique approach to African political filmmaking through the 1970s.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Octavio Getino. "Some notes on the concept of a 'Third Cinema'", in Martin, Michael T. New Latin American Cinema vol. 1. Wayne State University Press, Detroit 1997.] (English)
  2. ^ David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film History: An Introduction, 2nd edtn. (McGraw-Hill, 2003), 545.
  3. ^ Tyrell, Heather. 2012. "Bollywood versus Hollywood: Battle of the Dream Factories". In The Globalization Reader, edited by Frank Lechner and John Boli. Fourth Edition ed., 372-378. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  4. ^ Gabriel, Teshome Habte. "Third Cinema in the Third World: The Dynamics of Style and Ideology. Order No. 8001422 University of California, Los Angeles, 1979. Ann Arbor: ProQuest.
  5. ^ Dodge, Kim., Web. 2007
  6. ^ Oscar Ranzani, La revolución es un sueño eterno, Pagina 12, 20 October 2004 (Spanish)
  7. ^ Thompson, Kristin, Bordwell,David. (2010)"Film History: An Introduction, Third Edition". New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies. p. 438,505

Further reading[edit]

  • Wayne, Mike Political Film:The Dialectics of Third Cinema. Pluto Press, 2001.
  • Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, "Towards a Third Cinema" in: Movies and Methods. An Anthology, edited by Bill Nichols, Berkeley: University of California Press 1976, pp 44–64

Third Cinema Films[edit]

  • Antonio das Mortes, Glauber Rocha (Brazil 1969)Film Link
  • Blood of the Condor, Jorge Sanjines (Bolivia 1969)Film Link
  • La Hora de Los Hornos, Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getina (Argentina 1968)Film Link
  • Mandabi, Ousmane Sembene (Senegal 1969)Film Link
  • Memorias del Subdesarrollo, Thomas Guiterrez Alea, (Cuba 1968)Film Link
  • Mexico: The Frozen Revolution, Raymond Glevzer (Mexico 1971)Film Link
  • The Principle Enemy, Jorge Sanjines (Peru 1974)
  • Towers of Silence, Jamil Dehlavi (Pakistan 1975)Film Link
  • Vidas Secas, Nelson Perreira Dos Santos (Brazil 1963)Film Link

External links[edit]