Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 10-11 (Jan-June 1985) p. 87.


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Latin American Cinema:

Political Cinema

Notes on some major Latin American writers of the century

Ashish Rajadhyaksha

1'Finally, tribute must be paid to a type of political film almost unique to South America and directly linked to the nature of its A political systems; the illegal film, produced (and distributed!) under the most dangerous and trying circumstances, the ultimate, if not in film art, at least so in personal revolutionary comment; chiefly these are personal exposes of social ills or documentaries of otherwise unrepor-ted political demonstrations, strikes and riots/

2. The Cultural Superstructure

Latin America is a vast continent of filmmaking styles and formal approaches which is held together, perhaps, by two common cultural and economic factors. The first is the fact that Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela and more recently, Nicaragua and El Salvador, have had a long history of cultural and political neo-colonialism. The second is that US multinationals have a monopoly control over film distribution, the press, news, advertising and marketing, and public opinion agencies (in Mexico where there are 170 advertising agencies with an annual expenditure of $100 million, only four are Mexican); that 30 per cent of all television time puts out canned American serials, and an inestimable rest is made up of imitations of these programmes; that the 'Voice of America' and USIA traditionally spend their largest budgets in Latin America. These two sets of information should make the connections between politics and culture obvious amd make clear that the battle to control the media is a major one'in Latin America. Indeed, most of the bloody and violent battles there have been fought out in that dense semiotic of'ideological state apparatuses' (in Althussefs words). Paul Sweezy writes that it was precisely Salvador Allende's inability to. wrest control over this area from the Right, in Chile in 1973, that led to the failure of the Popular Unity Government to contain the coup d'etat.

Journal of Arts and Ideas 87


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