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Cultura e Mitologia / 20/06/2020

What we know about Latin American culture

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What we know about Latin American culture

Fonte Instituto Claro
Secret in their eyes

The film Diaries of Motorcycles (2004), directed by Walter Salles, had great repercussions in Brazil and abroad, both by critics and the public, at the time of the release. Here, the film reached 750 thousand viewers, a great box office, and a huge number of DVDs, since it was seen and reviewed, including in schools. The qualities of the film justify always replaying it. Many identify the film as national, but few know that screenwriter José Rivera is a competent Puerto Rican playwright. The title is a very successful co-production, which brought together Argentina, Brazil, Chile, United Kingdom, Peru, USA, Germany and France. Inspired by the diaries of young Ernesto (Che) Guevara, the film takes us to travel with the protagonists through various regions of Latin America.

In the end, the song Al otro Lado del Río, by Uruguayan composer Jorge Drexler (Oscar winner 2005 for best song) touches us and we feel like the young Che: who sees Latin Americans as a single people, who shares a common same history of colonialist exploitation that contributed to chronic social inequality. Today, this feeling is not so obvious. In the past, Brazil has been culturally closer to Latin American Hispanic-speaking countries.

Thinking about music, Latin American songs have always been successful in Brazil, even in the golden age of radio, when sambas and marchinhas reigned here. At this time, the 40s and 50s, boleros, guaranias and tangos also packed the Brazilians. Trio Los Panchos, Bievenido Granda, Augustin Lara, Carlos Gardel, among other artists, were successful. In the period of the military dictatorship (1970s), students and artists identified with the music of Mercedes Sosa, Victor Jara and Violeta Parra. Elis Regina was successful, then, with the songs Los Hermanos (by Atahualpa Yupanqui) and Gracias a la Vida (Violeta Parra). Volver a los 17 (song also by Chilean Violeta Parra) was a success in the voice of Milton Nascimento and Mercedes Sosa. There was an artistic movement for the unity of Latin America.

In literature, until the 1980s there was a good circulation of works among Latin countries. Pablo Neruda, Gabriel García Marques, Mário Vargas Llosa, Manuel Scorza and Eduardo Galeano were read by more Brazilians than today. With the so-called “globalization”, Latin American publishers were bought by Spaniards (later English and Americans) and currently the circulation of books on our continent is much more complicated.

In cinema, the presence of Mexican cinema in Brazil was intense in the 1940s and 1950s. Cantinflas comedies (Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes) were as popular as those by Chaplin and Mazzaropi. The melodramas of the Pelmex industry (Película Mexicanas) revealed the Latin American cultural matrix, which is the same as that of our soap operas, so strong in our cultural imagination. Although many Mexican film professionals studied in the USA, their films had their own brand, different Hollywood ones, in which Latinos were portrayed as losers, bandits and drunks. The most successful films, directed by Emilio Fernández, with the photography director of the competent Gabriel Figueiroa, showed a heroic and noble Indian. The trio of actors who performed these films were Pedro Armendáriz, Dolores Del Rio and Maria Félix, these true muses for Brazilians.

In the 70s and 80s, another type of Latin American cinema started to circulate here, especially in film clubs. They valued regional popular culture and showed the political resistance of the oppressed, especially against bosses and government officials. Chilean, Cuban, Venezuelan or Colombian films had an audience in large urban centers, even though they were simple production films. Aesthetics was at the service of the theme. They were low-budget films, aesthetically bold, but with no marketing strategy. Commercial feature films were also successful, such as Actas de Marúsia (Mexican production, directed by Chilean Miguel Littín, with Gian Maria Volontè in the cast).

In the early 1980s (when censored films began to be released), a US production with a Latin American theme was very successful in Brazil. Directed by the Greek Costa Gavras: Missing or Missing, a great mystery (1982), Jack Lemmon plays an American father, who knew nothing about social movements in Chile and goes in search of his son who is missing.

The fact is that, until the mid-1980s, music, literature and cinema showed us the Latin American peoples, whose history and culture have deep relations with Brazil. The creation of Mercosur, in 1985, brought together some of the countries around economic cooperation. However, with globalization, there was a strengthening of the great powers and the US hegemony in the cultural industry. Brazilian music plays little on our radios, even less do we listen to Latin American songs. The literature of these countries hardly appear in our publishing market and, in the cinema, we see at most Argentine successes. The impression we have is that our knowledge of “los hermanos” is reduced to football.

Latin American cinema and cultural diversity

How could cinema help us to get to know Latin American culture?

Films can be an important window for our cultural citizenship, so that we can look at the Latin American continent. The regions, the peoples, the complexity of human and social relations can bring us. We have a common political history and, at the same time, there is diversity and cultural hybridization, each country is unique and worth being known and understood.

The problem is that most countries have incipient production while others are better structured. Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Cuba have strong and significant film industries, with feature films. It is not by chance that they were the ones who had a wide culture in the club, which shows the importance of not only producing, but having an audience accustomed to cinema.

Mexico has a powerful film industry. However, it faced a fall due to the free trade agreement with the United States (NAFTA). Unlike Canada, also a member of NAFTA, which was able to protect its audiovisual industry, Mexico accepted aggressive agreements the American film market, which resulted, between 1984 and 1993, in a 71.6% drop in production, reaching only 21, 2 films a year. The international circulation has also been drastically affected, causing very few Mexican films to reach us in recent years.

Some of them are available on DVD: As water for Chocolate (Alfonso Arau, 1993), Amores Brutos (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000), And his mother too (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001), The Crime of Padre Amaro (Carlos Carrera, 2002) , The Violin (Francisco Vargas, 2005), The Faun's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006), Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2006), Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, 2007). Many of them are co-productions, have made a good international career, and some of the directors have linked themselves to US industry, but their American productions do not represent Mexican culture.

In the 1960s, Argentina went through a process similar to that of Brazil: it had a film club movement, expanded the audience and saw the emergence of the movement called Nuevo Cine Argentino (in Brazil it was Cinema Novo). This renewing wave yielded many films until the 1980s, with an emphasis on denouncing the military dictatorship. Examples of this phase are: The Official History (Luis Puenzo, 1985), which won the Oscar for best foreign film in 1986, and Tangos, Gardel's Exile (Fernando Solanas, 1985). In addition to being an important filmmaker, Solanas was also a representative of the Argentine left. Many of the songs in his films were composed by him and his friend Astor Piazzola.

In the 1990s, what came to be called the second generation of cine nuevo, composed of excellent professionals trained in film schools, with productions that debuted in the early 2000s, the height of the Argentine economic crisis. The country managed, even in this scenario, to maintain cinematographic production due to its solid film schools and international agreements, with co-productions that guaranteed the making and international circulation of films. This new generation has the mark of diversity, both in themes and in style, the low cost of productions, the strength of the scripts that satisfy both the audience that seeks a well-told story, and those that demand a more refined aesthetic treatment. Social and / or political criticism and humor, even when it comes to drama, are always present.

In 2001, one of the greatest worldwide successes of this new generation was launched: O Filho da Noiva (Juan José Campanella, 2001), whose director has the greatest international projection. After this success, it was released in Brazil, by the same director The Same Love, the Same Rain, made in 1999. The same filmmaker also made the great Clube da Lua (2004), the winner of the Oscar for best foreign film The Secret of His Eyes (2009) and the animation Um Time Show de Bola (2013). The critic Sérgio Rizzo, in an article published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo on 10/27/2003, about the title O Same Amor, summarized the production of this filmmaker: “great dialogues, half a dozen convincing characters, some skillful narrative leaps, a tone that mixes bitterness and hope: simple recipe, tremendously effective result ”.

Another Argentine director that brings together family dramas, social criticism and humor is Daniel Burman, with the films: Esperando Messias (2000), O Abraço Partido (2004), Family Laws 92006), Ninho Vazio (2008), Dois Irmãos (2010) ) and Luck in Your Hands (2012).

Marcelo Piñero is another filmmaker whose creativity and force has made good communication with the public.

The first of his films shown here was Cinzas no Paraíso (1997). Then came the great Plata Quemada (2000), Kamchatka (2002) and O que você Faria (ou El metod, 2005).

Also an Argentine world success was Fabián Bielinsky's Nove Rainhas (2001). The film features actor Ricardo Darín, star of O Filho da Noiva and numerous successes of this new phase of Argentine cinema. His charisma contributed to the success of Argentine cinema. An octogenarian actress who won over audiences by interpreting dramas with great comic hints was China Zorrilla, who starred in Conversando com Mamãe (Santiago Carlos Oves, 2004) and Elza & Fred (Marcos Carnevale, 2005)

Other good directors of this new wave who have made films that have been circulating internationally, including in Brazil, are Carlos Sorín: Histórias Minimum (2002), O Cachorro (2004), A Janela (2008) and Filha Distante (2012); Lucía Puenzo: The Prostitute and the Whale (2004), XXY (2007) and The German Doctor (2013); Lucrecia Martel: O Pântano (2001), Menina Santa (2004) and A Mulher Sem-Cabeça (2008); Pablo Trapero: Mundo Grúa (1999), Rodante Family (2004), Nacido y Created (2006), Leonera (2008), Vultures (2010) and White Elephant (2012).

Very different each other, but which have in common the fact that they bring us closer to the Argentines are Herencia (Paula Hernández, 2001), Valentin (Alejandro Agresti, 2002) Café dos Maestros (Miguel Kohan, 2008), O Homem do Lado (Mariano Cohn , 2009), Las Acácias (Pablo Giorgelli, 2011), A Chinese Tale (Sebastián Borensztein, 2011), Medianeras - Buenos Aires in the Era of Virtual Love (Gustavo Taretto, 2011), Clandestine Childhood (Benjamín Ávila, 2012)

The Argentine strategy of looking for co-producers has been followed by other Latin American countries, which has allowed their films to reach us to expand their knowledge of our own continent.

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