In May of 1976, documentary filmmaker and proclaimed socialist Raymundo Gleyzer mysteriously disappeared in Buenos Aires. Like many political activists, Gleyzer was the target of a brutalizing military junta that had recently assumed power. Amazingly, within a few decades, leftist filmmakers would be celebrated as intellectual vanguards in this same city.
In Transition Cinema, Jessica Stites Mor documents the critical role filmmakers, the film industry, and state regulators played in ArgentinaÆs volatile transition to democracy. She shows how, during different regimes, the state moved to either inhibit or facilitate film production and its content, distribution, and exhibition. She also reveals the strategies the film industry employed to comply with, or circumvent these regulations.
Stites Mor divides the transition period into three distinct generations, each defined by a major political event and the reactions to these events in film. The first generation began with the failed civil uprising in Córdoba in 1969, and ended with the 1976 military takeover. During military rule, repressive censorship spurred underground exhibitions, and allied filmmakers with the Peronist left and radical activists. The second generation arose after the return of civilian rule in 1983. Buenos Aires became the center for state-level cultural programs that included filmmakers in debates over human rights and collective memory campaigns. In 1989, a third generation of filmmaking emerged, with new genres such as cine piquetero (picketer cinema) that portrayed a variety of social movements and brought them into the public eye. By the new millennium, Argentine filmmakers had gained the attention and financial support of international humanitarian and film industry organizations.
In this captivating study, Stites Mor examines how populist movements, political actors, filmmakers, government, and industry institutions all became deeply enmeshed in the project of ArgentinaÆs transition cinema. She demonstrates how film emerged as the chronicler of political struggles in a dialogue with the past, present, and future, whose message transcended both cultural and national borders.
Jessica Stites Mor offers a welcome revision of Argentine political film of the last four decades that challenges classical approaches to both the history of Argentine cinema and the cinema of the Argentine transitionÉ.An original and insightful resource to both scholars and a general audience who wish to better understand the unique case of the revival of contemporary Argentine political film.
This well-researched analysis of the past 50 years of Argentine cinema is unique in its emphasis on documentary film as well as feature film . . . an eye-opening perspective on the recent history of one of the world's most important film producers. Highly recommended.
Jessica Stites Mor persuasively argues that filmmakers, the film industry, and the intellectual and popular discourse surrounding film productions played a critical role in the gestation of collective memories and identity debates throughout Argentina's transition from dictatorship to democracy.
Detailed and engaging. . . . It is clear that Stites Mor has spent a number of years researching in Argentina. This offers her an 'insider's view' that is evident on every page, as she deploys a range of primary resources, including difficult-to-trace documentaries, interviews with protagonists of the era, film and political journals and industrial archives. . . [a] work that synthesizes so much information in such an elegant form.
I find it fascinating how Stites Mor studies the regular independent Argentinian filmmaking (which started in the sixties with the name of New Argentinian cinema), including the eclosion of the cine piquetero and Argentina's financial crisis. The author pays critical attention not only to traditional cinema but also to the new phenomenon of street filmmaking, which created a different kind of cinema.
This is an original and important contribution to Argentine cultural history. Stites Mor convincingly reveals the critical impact that filmmakers have made on collective memories, cultural politics, and identity debates in Argentina's transition from dictatorship to democracy.
Jessica Stites Mor is assistant professor of Latin American history at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan.learn more