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Cinema 4.5? Legacies of Third Cinema at the age of informational capitalism

Dissertation
Author: Sourav Roychowdhury
Abstract:
This dissertation studies continuities and changes in the praxis of Third Cinema over last two decades. I start from an analytic historiography of Third Cinema in the first generation, i.e. late 60s onwards, and try to rethink the politics and theoretical positions of contemporary filmmakers, vis-à-vis their call for de-colonization, quest for a new cinematic language as well as their use of national imageries. I argue that frequent conflation between the terms Third Cinema and Third World Cinema derives from a politics espousing the welfare state as the vehicle of regional development within the world capitalist system. This is a politics of domestic class alliance in the peripheral areas of global capitalism as a means of resistance to imperialist exploitation. Paradoxically, it is also a politics of regional capitalist development, rather than socialism. The dual thirst for a welfare state and regional prosperity finds expression in the positive utopias built around the imaginary/emerging nation state that Third Cinema projects in the early years, especially when assisting radical movements questioning Fordist capitalism around the world. The second part of this dissertation studies the structural changes global capitalism went through in the last few decades, particularly with rise of informational capitalism, globalization and receding power of the nation state. I argue that with diminished importance of nation state as an institution as well as disintegration of the Third World as a territorial referent, the new Third Cinema exercises a politics of absence questioning representations in the dominant mediascape, rather than proposing alternative positive imageries. This politics foregrounds processes of structural exclusions integral to neo-liberalism, alluding to the disavowed world outside globally connected spaces of 'flows'. I focus on how in absence of other perspective or identities, the excluded physical bodies, especially of children, function as the precarious 'other' of the global network space in these films. I also trace the locational shift in the diegetic space of these films from rural/natural landscapes to marginal urban spaces, a shift that correlates with the new urban explosion characteristic of late capitalism. I argue that even though the new Third Cinema does not have the emancipatory rhetoric of the 60s, it continues the critical function and politically informed formal innovation through strategies of contextualization. In a way, lack of a positive referent makes the new Third Cinema more radical at a time when marginal positive identities are subject to be co-opted as niche markets in post-Fordist flexible accumulation.

T able of Contents

Dedication ii Abstract iii Introduction: Return of the Native 1 Introduction References 12

Chapter 1: The First Generation: Third Cinema and the Nation-State 13 The Concept of National Culture 13 International Lineage 17 The National and the Nation-State 27 The Aesthetics of Nation-State 37 The Global Voice of Early Third Cinema 56 Chapter 1 References 74

Chapter 2: The Neo-Liberal Turn 77 Capital and its ‘Other’ 77 Changes since the 70s 80 Herbert (India, 2005) 93 Cache (“Hidden”, France, 2005) 102 Tribulation 99 (USA, 1991) 110 City of God (Brazil, 2002) 122 Chapter 2 References 131

Chapter 3: Of City, Body and Children 134 Chapter 3 References 175 Conclusion: Death of Which Cinema? 177 Conclusion References 191

Filmography 192 Bibliography 194

i v

Abstract

This dissertation studies continuities and changes in the praxis of Third Cinema over last two decades. I start from an analytic historiography of Third Cinema in the first generation, i.e. late 60s onwards, and try to rethink the politics and theoretical positions of contemporary filmmakers, vis-à-vis their call for de-colonization, quest for a new cinematic language as well as their use of national imageries. I argue that frequent conflation between the terms Third Cinema and Third World Cinema derives from a politics espousing the welfare state as the vehicle of regional development within the world capitalist system. This is a politics of domestic class alliance in the peripheral areas of global capitalism as a means of resistance to imperialist exploitation. Paradoxically, it is also a politics of regional capitalist development, rather than socialism. The dual thirst for a welfare state and regional prosperity finds expression in the positive utopias built around the imaginary/emerging nation state that Third Cinema projects in the early years, especially when assisting radical movements questioning Fordist capitalism around the world. The second part of this dissertation studies the structural changes global capitalism went through in the last few decades, particularly with rise of informational capitalism, globalization and receding power of the nation state. I argue that with diminished importance of nation state as an institution as well as disintegration of the Third World as a territorial referent, the new Third Cinema exercises a politics of absence questioning representations in the dominant mediascape, rather than proposing alternative positive imageries. This politics foregrounds processes of structural exclusions integral to neo-

v l iberalism, alluding to the disavowed world outside globally connected spaces of ‘flows’. I focus on how in absence of other perspective or identities, the excluded physical bodies, especially of children, function as the precarious ‘other’ of the global network space in these films. I also trace the locational shift in the diegetic space of these films from rural/natural landscapes to marginal urban spaces, a shift that correlates with the new urban explosion characteristic of late capitalism. I argue that even though the new Third Cinema does not have the emancipatory rhetoric of the 60s, it continues the critical function and politically informed formal innovation through strategies of contextualization. In a way, lack of a positive referent makes the new Third Cinema more radical at a time when marginal positive identities are subject to be co-opted as niche markets in post-Fordist flexible accumulation.

1 I ntroduction: Return of the Native To my knowledge, the last book length study on Third cinema was published in 2001. One of the inspiring factors behind Mike Wayne’s Political Film: The Dialectics of Third Cinema was a statement by British filmmaker John Akomfrah made at a BFI sponsored conference on African Cinema in 1996. Akomfrah declared at the conference that Third Cinema was dead. While refuting that claim Wayne conceded that although Third Cinema as a practice is far from dead, “One of the curious deficiencies of Third Cinema Theory has been its underdevelopment vis-à-vis First Cinema (dominant, Mainstream) and Second Cinema (art, authorial). To develop Third Cinema theory is to try and illuminate its relations with and what is at stake in the differences between First, Second and Third Cinema. (Wayne 2001: 2)” Although scholars like Teshome Gabriel argued that Third Cinema was defined by its socialist politics and not geography, their field of study remained confined to the geographic Third World as a homogenous entity and as we will see in chapter 1, the premise of the socialist politics was defined in terms of binary opposition between the First and the Third World. Wayne was the first scholar to clearly spell out that socialist politics was a function of positionality within the socio-cultural milieu a film is addressing. He acknowledged the dialogical relationship between First, second and Third Cinema, placed Third Cinema within the long tradition of anti-capitalist political art, and roughly based his analysis on Third Cinema’s investment in the social collective, rather than the individual. Wayne’s repertoire therefore includes films from all over the world, including Hollywood. Wayne also asserted that Third Cinema’s allegiance was to a

2 pol itics of intervention rather than representation in the dominant cultural field and therefore it was not compatible with academic discourses like post-colonialism. However, Wayne’s analysis does not adequately explain the underlying reasons for recurrent conflation between Third Cinema and Third World cinema, or the frustration among filmmakers like Akomfrah when the Third World as a functional entity ceases to exist in late Capitalism. Commenting on Solanas and Getino’s position on the national question, Wayne argues, The specific working-class tradition that Solanas and Getino were influenced by was a left-wing version of Peronism, which tried to bolt together the two great conflicting ideologies of the period of de-colonization: nationalism and socialism. “In neocolonial situation two concepts of culture, art, science and cinema compete: that of the rulers and that of the nation”. (Wayne 2001: 122)

Wayne sees this dilemma between the nation and trans-national socialism as a problem which the praxis of Third Cinema is fraught with. I believe this dilemma in fact explains the state of global capitalism in the late 60s, and can be understood from the perspective of contemporary capitalist world system. I argue in the first chapter therefore that the politics of de-colonization Third Cinema champions in its first generation did have a structural relationship with the Third World nation state, although not in the same terms as bourgeoisie national cinema. As Wallerstein has argued (see chapter 1), the dominance of Western Europe – the core area of capitalist World System – originated from converging interest of different power groups institutionalized in the machinery of nation-state. Analogically in the 60s, the developmental state in the newly independent Third World was perceived as a mechanism of domestic class alliance committed to regional development and a simultaneous deterrent to imperialist exploitation. The

3 c ombination of these two operations - i.e. ‘catching up’/welfare and an overall resistance - was expected by the contemporary left to facilitate a global systemic transformation, leading to socialism. The emancipatory rhetoric of Third Cinema in the first generation was informed by this positive utopia - structured around the developmental state and expressed in terms of national imaginaries. In spite of emphasis on regional specificities and popular culture in these imaginaries, the common denominator of underdevelopment and neo/colonial experience sustained a simultaneous rhetoric of Third World-ism, influenced by Non-Alignment Movement and the concept of Tri-continental revolution. The peripheral status provided a critical perspective of global capitalism. That is where the impetus for formal innovation - the vibrant, human rebellion against built environment- and the progressive element of Third Cinema lies. It must be noted here that by positive utopia I do not mean an essential identity, but identification with the dynamism of anti-colonial movements. Paradoxically, this positive utopia also shared a thirst for regional capitalist development, following a Third World version of Fordism. Another major problem in Wayne’s book is his understanding of neo-liberalism from a classical Marxist perspective, without recognizing the structural changes brought to global capitalism by advanced communication and information technologies since the late 70s. In the second chapter, I try to address these changes affected by transition from Fordism to Flexible accumulation. The new communication technologies have produced what David Harvey calls ‘time-space compression’ (Harvey 1989) increasing fluidity and therefore freeing capital of its space bound constrains (See chapter 2). As a result, territorial nation states have lost their Fordist function as the mediator between labor and capital. While the global capitalist economy truly functions on a planetary scale today

4 a nd pockets of the former Third World - especially urban centers - have become integral parts of it, following the debt crisis in the 80s, IMF and World Bank have forced economic deregulation on the Third World nation states, promoting export based economies on the one hand, and receding welfare function on the other. Consequently, as Manuel Castells has argued, the contemporary world is polarized into spaces of global networks- connected by flows of information, capital and technology on the one hand, and a vast number of people who do not belong to and are excluded from this network. Castells writes, At this turn of the millennium, what used to be called the second World (the statist universe) has disintegrated, incapable of mastering the forces of the Information Age. At the same time, the Third World has disappeared as a relevant entity, emptied of its geopolitical meaning, and extraordinarily diversified in its economic and social development. Yet, the First World has not become the all embracing universe of neo-liberal mythology. Because a new world, the Fourth World, has emerged, made up of multiple black holes of social exclusion throughout the planet. ( Castells 1998: 167-168)

The Fourth World is dispersed around the world, and therefore does not have a regional identity. The welfare state which was seen as the medium of social upliftment for the disenfranchised in the 60s is powerless in face of forces of globalization. In fact, increasingly it maintains its legitimacy by facilitating the structural exclusion, as exemplified by stricter immigration laws in recent times. Today’s political cinema, critical of capitalism, therefore does not have a positive utopia. Instead it foregrounds a politics of absence- a correlative of social exclusion- questioning representation in the dominant media. I was tempted to call this cinema Fourth Cinema, but the term has been used at least in two different contexts. Barry Barclay has used the term simply to mean Indigenous

5 c inema, ‘indigenous with a capital ‘I’’ (Barclay 2003). In an essay written in 2003, based on a lecture at Auckland University he claimed Fourth Cinema (a medium of mechanical/digital reproduction) to have a position outside modern nation state/ ‘national orthodoxy’, which is the premise of the first three cinemas. Barclay claimed, We learn especially from the overall reaction to our films, how these may differ dramatically between Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences. According to this outlook, we are not "One People". The One People theory, the One People paradigm, equates to extinction for Indigenous Peoples. (Barclay 2003: 3)

Significantly, he uses the term “Third Cinema” also as a national cinema category, without being sensitive to its political connotations. Barclay’s idea of fourth cinema framed around ‘ancient roots 1 ’ therefore, is epistemologically identical to concepts of b our geoisie national cinema, another variation of politics of representation that Third Cinema has resisted since its first generation (see chapter one). Secondly, Barclay’s idea of the national ‘other’ is a problematic concept at a time when nation-state as an institution is losing its past relevance. Barclay mentions, for example, an incident where tribals in Orissa district of India were killed by the police while planning resistance to takeover an area of their dwelling for Bauxite mining. Barclay’s remedy to the situation is, “One day, the tribesmen of Orissa State may hold the camera in their own hands. It will not be the camera of the ship's deck. (Barclay 2003: 9)”. The actual struggle that is currently taking place in India against mining at the cost of displacement of tribal people

1 B arclay writes, “In some countries (and this is one of them) the Indigenous pe oples have been converted to one of the world's major religions, at least, superficially. Their art forms may have changed somewhat, their diet, their work patterns, their instruments of governance. But in as much as the People and the culture survive at all, the ancient roots, the ancient outlook persist, an outlook with roots far back in time, an outlook ― to a greater or lesser extent ― outside the national outlook. (Barclay 2003: 7)”

6 i s between multinational corporations like the Vedanta group based in England and the tribal people under the leadership of Maoists 2 (see chapter two), who shoot combat vide os to distribute among cadres, but do not claim any position outside the modern nation state or globalization. I think this is a classic example of the difference between politics of intervention and representation. The second concept of Fourth Cinema – a super 8mm experimental cinema movement- dates back to 1968 in Mexico. Born out of the world wide political turbulence of that year, this movement was carried forward by activist filmmakers. The eventual influence of Solanas and Getino on the movement is clear from the title of their manifesto, “Towards a Fourth Cinema”. The manifesto shares most of the premise of Third Cinema, but identifies 8mm cinema as ‘another cinema’ outside the ‘normal’ triad, for the specificity of the format (Garcia 1999). The embrace of 8mm format was advocated for its easy accessibility and although this cinema was perceived to be experimental cinema circulated through alternative channels like cine clubs and festivals, there is an appeal towards simplicity of subjects in the manifesto. At the same time, Garcia argued that “the problem lies in the fact that “political cinema” has become a cinema of propaganda, lacking in cinematographic language, except in a handful of cases (The Battle of Algiers). (Garcia 1999: 171)” As we will see in chapter one, The Battle of Algiers has been criticized for its lack of political analysis and thriller structure. Other than the 8 mm format, politics or aesthetics of the movement for that matter remains ambiguous.

2 Recently, admitting that the growing support for Maoism in tribal India is a response to c orporate plunder of forest and tribal land for mining, the central government, which had been indiscriminately signing MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with multinationals to attract foreign investment since the 1990s, has halted a proposed mining project in Niyamgiri of Orissa district.

7 I avoid neologism therefore. In Chapter three I focus on another major change in late capitalism, i.e. urban explosion. As Mike Davis has reported, the global urban population has surpassed its rural counterpart for the first time in history (Davis 2004). The new waves of urban migration since the 1990s are related to economic deregulation and its impact on subsistence farming. Growth of internationally competitive agro business, mechanized farming and retraction of agricultural subsidy by the state among other factors, have created a huge pull of rural surplus labor that has no other option but to migrate from their traditional habitat 3 to the cities in search of livelihood. Unlike 19 th and 20 th century urbanization, this unskilled labor force cannot be absorbed b y the demand for industrial labor for collapse of import substitution industries in developing countries and general deindustrialization in the traditional sectors. This population - whom Davis calls the ‘informal proletariat’- is left with no other identity except possession of physical bodies, in a paradoxical relationship with the environment of codification/de- corporealization of informational society. I discuss therefore how bodies have replaced developmental state/landscapes as the critical referent in the new Third Cinema and the critique of annihilation of bodies as a structural condition of territorialization of urban space has become a recurrent theme of these films. One of the consequences of receding function of the welfare state is exposure of children/non-adults to capitalist exploitation. I explore this theme- exclusion/annihilation of children as bodies- as another symptom of emergence of a politics of non-identity, since children have functioned as the figure of immanence in cinema at least since Italian neo-realism.

3 This population includes tribal people, as exemplified by Freddy, the protagonist of B olivia (see chapter three).

8 T o the extent Third Cinema was a cultural wing of active social movements in the late 60s and early 70s, it foregrounded the emancipatory rhetoric embedded in the themes it was addressing. The vibrancy of its formal experiments marked an epoch in the history of cinema in general. During first few decades of flexible accumulation, when anti-capitalist discontents lacked the force of a visible systemic challenge, the strategy of Third cinema has remained rather subdued contextualization of dominant discourses, a strategy Wayne has described as the ‘holding operation’. I argue in the conclusion that cinema’s power of contextualization retains its relevance as a worldview/ideology, if not as a medium, at a time when cinema’s escapist/immersive tendencies are appropriated by Virtual Reality of computer games. At the same time, what seems like a lull period might not be the end of story. As long as periodic recession and systemic exploitation is integral part of capitalism, Third Cinema will remain alive as a critical practice. As I discuss in the first chapter, Solanas and Getino were criticized for abandoning their clandestine ‘agit’ films and joining government propaganda after fall of dictatorship in 1973. Getino defended his position arguing that the form and statement of a political film is partly determined by the pulse of time, and mechanical adherence to any formula, no matter how radical it seems, exhausts its creative potential. It is true that the political stand of Solanas has been ambiguous just like the populism of Peronism, but for the same reason, it is worth taking a look at his Social Genocide (2004). Social Genocide is a documentary on the financial crisis of Argentina between 1999 and 2001, partially brought to an end by popular cacerolazo (banging pot and pans to call attention) protests which reached its peak on December 20 th and 21 st of 2001, and forced

9 P resident De la Rua to resign. Following the Latin American debt crisis of the 80s and rising inflation rate, the Argentine government under Carlos Menem adopted economic restructuring program suggested by IMF. This involved reduction of government budget, deindustrialization and privatization of state owned industries including profitable ones like the YPF oil and gas company. Rampant corruption, tax evasion and money laundering contributed to capital flight to offshore banks. The assumed antidote for inflation- the newly adopted ‘fixed convertibility rate’ between peso and dollar eventually hurt the export oriented economy as regional trading partners Brazil and Mexico devalued their currency and dollar was revalued in the international market during this period. Diminished state expenditure triggered increasing unemployment, lowering of real wage and the number of people below poverty line. The situation reached a critical state when in order to stop capital flight bank accounts were frozen for a year in 2001 allowing only minor sums of cash to be withdrawn. Simultaneously, to balance the international debt payment austerity measures were declared cutting back more public service. The unions called nationwide strikes against these policies, and they were eventually joined by other sections of the society including pensioners, unemployed youth, and social organizations like Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (see conclusion) to name a few. After violent rioting, destruction of corporate property and clashes with the police, the public demand prevailed. Under President Nestor Kirchner Peso was devalued, the government encouraged import substitution industries, took an aggressive drive towards tax collection and social welfare. Finally Argentina was able to pay back their IMF debt

10 b y 2006. Solanas 4 called the popular movement ‘the first victory of Argentina agai ns t globalization’. Commenting on the opening scenes of protests at Plaza de Mayo of Buenos Aires, the voiceover of the film says, “After years of apathy, the argentine people have awakened once more”. Pot banging mingled with animated drumming by musicians present at the protest, interspersed with interviews and clashes with the police give the sequence a carnivalesque mood. As a parallel move, the innovative strategies of Hour of the Furnace (see chapter one) - staccato editing, inter-titles qualifying images, ironic usage of TV footage 5 , paintings, popular music including political rap and the episodic

collage structure return in Social Genocide. The film starts and ends with documentary footage of protests and clashes. In between, ten short episodes historicize the crisis leading to the events of 20 th and 21 st December. Solanas does have a nationalist rhetoric in the film com mensurate with his Peronist politics, but numerous shots of the Parliament actually depict its weakness vis-a-vis economic forces. At one point the voiceover refers to senate members as ‘hand raisers’ in this context. In the episode called “social genocide” Solanas interviews representatives of a doctor’s association who joined the protest movement against austerity plans. The doctors say austerity plans mean a huge number of ailing, undernourished children would be brought to the hospitals. So, they came up with a slogan, “Other people decide. We see them die.”

4 Solanas was shot by an unknown gunman after filing lawsuit against Menem for privatizing Y PF before making this film.

5 Solanas contrasts music videos of scantily clad, dancing girls (in one of the clips Menem pa rticipates in a dance show) with a TV interview of Menem where he suavely accepts of his ‘lover boy’ image. Later, with the same attitude he poses for a photograph with the IMF chief, although the chief lightly warns him of the consequence of this association, referring to himself as the devil.

11 T he doctors continue narrating their experience of working under anti-people economic policies. Most of these children are underweight, with low intellectual capabilities, even though they have feelings. It sounds ridiculous to suggest a diet including milk or chicken to a fourteen year old mother of such a child for permanent cure of diarrhea. Looking for medical solution to the problem they translated books from English for cheaper cure, but nothing worked in an overcrowded circumstance. Finally they read an Argentine book by Juan P. Garrahan which suggested “undernourishment is a socio-economic and cultural disease that can be cured by giving everybody a job.” The doctor insisted that the book didn’t suggest “giving food to everyone”, and that’s where they got their answer. As we will see in chapter three, social exclusion in absence of safety networks of the welfare state produces literal and discursive animalization of human beings, reducing them to biological entities outside the sphere of politics. Prescription of politics by doctors in that context is an attempt to make them political animal once more. Thus, in guise of older Peronism Social Genocide goes beyond inter textual reference to Hour addressing problems of late capitalism. I use the phrase cinema 4.5 rhetorically in the title to suggest contemporary political cinema’s (uncomfortable) association with its software environment and also as a reference to earlier nomenclatures of Fourth Cinema. From examples like Social Genocide, it seems the number will need updates down the line.

12 I ntroduction References Barclay, Barry. "Celebrating Fourth Cinema." July 2003. http://kainani.hpu.edu/hwood/HawPacFilm/BarclayCelebratingFourthCinema.doc. (accessed August 20, 2010).

Castells, Manuel. End of Millenium. Malden, MA (Castells 1996) (Jameson 1991): Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Davis, Mike. "Planet of Slums." New Left Review 26 (March-April 2004): 5-34. Garcia, Sergio. "Toward a Fourth Cinema prologue: a marginal cinema." Wide Angle 21, no. 3 (July 1999): 70-175.

Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. London: Blackwell Publishers, 1989.

13 C hapter 1 The First Generation: Third Cinema and the Nation-state

The Concept of National Culture After making Hour of the Furnace Solanas wrote in his famous manifesto, The anti-imperialist struggle of the peoples of the Third World and their equivalents inside the imperialist countries constitutes today the axis of the world revolution. Third Cinema is, in our opinion, the cinema that recognizes in that struggle the most gigantic cultural, scientific, and artistic manifestation of our time, the great possibility of constructing a liberated personality with each people as the starting point- in a word, the de-colonization of culture. (Solanas and Getino 1976: 47)

Although he does emphasize the importance of revitalization of national culture as a countercurrent of neo-colonial consumer culture, he describes its strategy as, “…not fundamentally one which illustrates, documents, or passively establishes a situation: rather, it attempts to intervene in the situation as an element providing thrust or rectification. To put it another way, it provides discovery through transformation. (Solanas 1976: 56)” 1

T hus while the legitimacy of the movement comes from a global perspective (world revolution), its practice derives from specific contemporary experience in course of socio-economic struggle. The concept of national culture (as is the case in any national-

1 I n a similar argument Fanon wrote, “Seeking to stick to tradit ions is or reviving neglected traditions is not only going against history, but against one’s people. When a people support an armed or even political struggle against a merciless colonialism, tradition changes meaning. What was a technique of passive resistance may, in this phase, be radically doomed. Traditions in an underdeveloped country undergoing armed struggle are fundamentally unstable and crisscrossed by centrifugal forces. (Fanon 1963: 160)”

14 c ultural identity) in this context is oppositional, in the sense it is conceived as a socially conscious rebellion against imperialism as well as escapist Hollywood aesthetics. Furthermore, as part of this rebellion against Hollywood conventions of suture, continuity and closure which Solanas described as ‘cinema of surplus value’ he argued, “Our time is one of hypothesis rather than of thesis, a time of works in progress- unfinished, unordered, violent works made with camera in one hand and a rock in the other. (Solanas 1976: 57)” His invocation of national culture therefore is more a faith in collective human agency 2 as opposed to capitalist de-corporealization 3 and quest for freedom rather than a n y essentialist identity politics 4 .

2

For example in the “Political Violence” section of Hour of the Furnaces the narrator informs that out of 20 recent governments in Argentina 17 were outcomes of rigged elections or military coup. People were politically exiled, so the task of the liberation was to win back that ‘humanity’.

3 Authentic Third World culture in the 60s was equated with a new e poch of humanity for its nascent creative energy. Solanas quotes Fanon in the sequence titled “models” In Hour of the Furnace urging “Let us not pay tribute to Europe by creating states, institutions, and societies in its mould. Humanity expects more from us than caricature and generally obscene imitation.” The commentary continues criticism of European modernity for racism and systems of slavery after this while the image track parades symbols of European high culture: portraits of Voltaire and Byron, Roman frescos and Parthenon, to name a few. Trained in European culture themselves, Solanas and Getino were not opposed to European culture per se. Their criticism was directed at sterile fetishization of high culture in consumer societies and transfer of that culture as cultural imperialism to the Third World. The images mentioned above disappear in lap-dissolves in the sequence, but the dissolves also highlight their beauty.

4 We hear echoes of Solanas in Glauber Rocha and Julio Espinoza as w e ll. Rocha wrote, “Cinema Novo cannot develop effectively while it remains marginal to the economic and cultural process of the Latin American continent. Cinema Novo is a phenomenon of new people everywhere…Wherever one finds filmmakers prepared to film the truth…wherever filmmakers…place their cameras and their profession in the service of the great causes of our time there is the spirit of Cinema Novo. (Rocha 1995: 71)” Espinoza defined the task of imperfect cinema as, “(it) must above all show the process which generates the problems. It is thus the opposite of a cinema principally dedicating in celebrating results…the opposite of a cinema which ‘beautifully illustrates’ ideas or concepts we already possess. (The narcissistic posture has nothing to do with those who struggle.) (Espinoza 1997: 81)”

15 S olanas partially echoes Fanon in this formulation. For Fanon, the quest for a national culture prior to the colonial era is justified by the colonized intellectual’s shared interest, “in stepping back and taking a hard look at the Western culture in which they risk becoming ensnared. (Fanon 1963: 148)” This quest according to Fanon is a drive to renew contact with their people’s “inner essence, the farthest removed from colonial times.” Thus we notice a post-structuralist impulse in both Fanon and Solanas. National cultures embodying the native ‘human essence’- as a peripheral space of capitalist ‘built environment’- enables a critical perception of the latter and therefore facilitates progressive intervention 5 . Recurring use of contrapuntal voice over in H our of the Furnaces to re-contextualize the hegemonic connotation of images is one of the strategies that complement this politics. For example, an idealized painting celebrating political independence of Argentina is accompanied in Hour by accounts of financial deals that continued national debt. Later on another statement clarifies repeating the narration, “What characterizes Latin American countries is, first of all, their dependence”. In Fanon’s idea of violence- which according to him is the indispensible form of intervention- we hear a connotation of primordial vitality. Fanon writes, “The first thing the colonial subject learns is to remain in his place and not overstep its limits. Hence the dreams of the colonial subject are muscular dreams, dreams of action, dreams of aggressive vitality. (Fanon 1963: 15)”

Full document contains 207 pages
Abstract: This dissertation studies continuities and changes in the praxis of Third Cinema over last two decades. I start from an analytic historiography of Third Cinema in the first generation, i.e. late 60s onwards, and try to rethink the politics and theoretical positions of contemporary filmmakers, vis-à-vis their call for de-colonization, quest for a new cinematic language as well as their use of national imageries. I argue that frequent conflation between the terms Third Cinema and Third World Cinema derives from a politics espousing the welfare state as the vehicle of regional development within the world capitalist system. This is a politics of domestic class alliance in the peripheral areas of global capitalism as a means of resistance to imperialist exploitation. Paradoxically, it is also a politics of regional capitalist development, rather than socialism. The dual thirst for a welfare state and regional prosperity finds expression in the positive utopias built around the imaginary/emerging nation state that Third Cinema projects in the early years, especially when assisting radical movements questioning Fordist capitalism around the world. The second part of this dissertation studies the structural changes global capitalism went through in the last few decades, particularly with rise of informational capitalism, globalization and receding power of the nation state. I argue that with diminished importance of nation state as an institution as well as disintegration of the Third World as a territorial referent, the new Third Cinema exercises a politics of absence questioning representations in the dominant mediascape, rather than proposing alternative positive imageries. This politics foregrounds processes of structural exclusions integral to neo-liberalism, alluding to the disavowed world outside globally connected spaces of 'flows'. I focus on how in absence of other perspective or identities, the excluded physical bodies, especially of children, function as the precarious 'other' of the global network space in these films. I also trace the locational shift in the diegetic space of these films from rural/natural landscapes to marginal urban spaces, a shift that correlates with the new urban explosion characteristic of late capitalism. I argue that even though the new Third Cinema does not have the emancipatory rhetoric of the 60s, it continues the critical function and politically informed formal innovation through strategies of contextualization. In a way, lack of a positive referent makes the new Third Cinema more radical at a time when marginal positive identities are subject to be co-opted as niche markets in post-Fordist flexible accumulation.