This work was completed with the Help of a grant from the College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Fund at The American University. It benefited substantially by guidance from Diana Vogelsong, Media Librarian at the American University Library. Hilary Bonta, Howard Heard, and Jeri Jones at the American University Helped research this project.
Patricia Aufderheide, assistant professor in the School of Communication, is an editor of In These Times newspaper and Black Film Review, and a member of the film advisory board of the National Gallery of Art. She edited Latin American Visions, a collection of film criticism by Latin Americans, and is a frequent contributor on independent and international film to national magazines and newspapers.
© 1992 Patricia Aufderheide
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Other Films Summarized
This is a guide to films, available in video or film either in the Media Services department of Bender Library, or in the Language Lab, that are useful to allow people who may not have much experience with different cultural perspectives to see the world differently, as a result of experiencing an artwork in a mass medium. This guide provides short background sketches on each film, its director and production history, its production context, and its relevance to teaching.
Most of them are feature films, although all can be used in excerpt. They come from Africa, Asia and Latin America, mostly from areas where national cinema production is overshadowed by the powerful international cinema/TV industries of the U.S., India and Egypt. In some cases, films from these international centers, as well as from areas where entertainment movie production also flourishes (such as Brazil and Argentina), are included. These are typically authorial films made as an expression of cultural identity by filmmakers who see their mandating not only as entertaining but also provoking thought. Occasionally, as in the Zairian film, La Vie Est Belle, a frankly entertainment film is included, to demonstrate how movie styles cross-fertilize and to shed light on cultural values.
One common umbrella term for grouping the perspectives these films offer is "third world," an awkward one that many people find contentious. It may Help to understand the background of the term. It was first used in 1952 by a French demographer, who referred to the "third world" as a parallel to the French "third estate"--the pre-Revolutionary lower class of society, without privileges (unlike the clergy and nobility). He meant rather loosely to point up the political marginalization of states outside the major powers of the time.
With international meetings of non-aligned countries in 1955, 1961 and 1964, the term got wide currency, although it was still used loosely, to mean countries outside the socialist and capitalist bloc countries. Later Mao Zedong proposed a theory of "three worlds," in which the first one was the superpowers USSR and US, the second was all the other industrial countries and the third was everybody else.
So this term is a residual one--an "everybody else" term. It reflects the realities of international power, and the problems in using it (since it describes what something is not rather than what it is) also reflect political, economic, and social marginalization as a result of international power.
These films typically express the tensions of those political, economic and social realities. They grapple with the need to assert not only opposition to something (colonialism, imperialism, economic inequality, Americans, a neocolonial elite) but to construct an autonomous identity.
One reason the clumsy term "third world" lingers on is because there is no convenient substitute, insofar as economic, political and social inequalities remain at an international level. "Underdevelopment" and "developing societies" suffer from the same problems as "third world," although they are often regarded as less contentious, particularly in the so-called "development community" of funders, bankers, and aid bureaucrats.
Watching films should be as critical a process as reading a book or analyzing any other text. It does not take special expertise to ask, How does this film say what it says? If you are not already comfortable with using film and video, you might work from a simple checklist:--production values (does the film flow along? do the images look glossy? does the film look kind of rough? do you notice that it's a movie, or does it spend money to imitate real life so effectively that you don't think about it?);
If you want a more thoroughgoing, but still accessible, guide to the basic terms of film and video, you might want to sample a text such as George Wead and George Lellis, Film: Form and Function and James Monaco, How to Read a Film.
But the basic idea is that common sense carries you a lot further than you think, when you start to look closely at a film.
It is also, of course, important to understand the context of production and reception. Is the film typical or atypical? Is the filmmaker a veteran or a novice? Is this a traditional theme or a new subject on film? How was it received? This guide is intended to provide some background on such questions.
Cross-cultural films pose a special challenge in viewing. Howard Shapiro, in Beyond Experience: The Experiential approach to cross-cultural education, ed. Donald Batcheler and Elizabeth Warner (The Experiment in International Living, 1977), provided some Helpful guidelines (p. 75), which I quote here:"1. Viewing a film is a group experience;
Some other resources:
*An excellent overview text is Roy Armes, Third World Film Making and the West, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.
*Jim Pines and Paul Willemen, Questions of Third Cinema. London; British Film Institute, 1989, discusses some theoretical issues around "third world film."
*Third World Guide, Rio de Janeiro/New York: Editora Terceiro Mundo/Grove Press, annual until 1987 in English contains excellent capsule histories of countries and regions.
*William Luhr, ed., World Cinema since 1945, New York: Ungar, 1987, offers synoptic overviews of many national cinemas. *The annual Variety International Film Guide offers an excellent snapshot of film production in different regions and nations.
Alsino and the Condor Miguel Littin Mexico/Cuba (director:Chile/re: Nicaragua) Latin America Facets 1983 89 minutes Language Lab Angano, Angano...Tales from Madagascar Cesar Paes, Marie-Clemence Blanc Paes Madagascar/France Africa California Newsreel 1989 64 minutes VHS 1400 Antonio das Mortes Glauber Rocha Brazil Latin Ameria Facets 1969 100 minutes VHS 568 Borom Sarret Ousmane Sembene Senegal Africa 1963 20 minutes MPC2 The City and the Dogs Francisco Lombardi Peru Latin America Condor Video 1987 135 minutes Language Lab SC 23 Distant Thunder Satyajit Ray India South Asia Facets 1973 92 minutes VHS 1085 Erendira Ruy Guerra Brazil Latin America Facets 1984 103 minutes VHS 424 O Espirito da TV (The Spirit of TV) Vincent Carelli/Video in the Villages Brazil Latin America Centro de Trabalho Indigenista (Rua Fidalga, 548, #13, Sao Paulo 05432) 1990 18 minutes VHS 1825 (SEE in Summary: Video in the Villages) Festa da Moca (Girl's Puberty Ritual) Vincent Carelli and Capiao Pedra, Nambikwara tribal leader/Video in the Villages Brazil Latin America Centro de Trabalho Indigenista (Rua Fidalga, 548, #13, Sao Paulo 05432) c. 1989 18 minutes VHS 1824 (SEE in Summary: Video in the Villages) Finzan Cheick Oumar Sissoku Mali Africa California Newsreel 1989 107 minutes VHS 1398 From Here, From This Side Gloria Ribe Mexico Latin America Women Make Movies 1988 24 minutes VHS 900 Gregorio Grupo Chaski Peru Latin America Karen Ranucci 1983 90 minutes VHS 728 Hour of the Star Susana Amaral Brazil Latin America 1986 90 minutes VHS 858 Iracema Jorge Bodanzky Brazil Latin America Cinema Guild 1975 (released 1980) 90 minutes VHS 587 Lucia Humberto Solas Cuba Latin America Center for Cuban Studies 1968 160 minutes VHS 702 Mapantsula Oliver Schmitz South Africa Africa California Newsreel 1988 104 minutes VHS 961 Memories of Underdevelopment Tomas Gutierrez Alea Cuba Latin America Center for Cuban Studies 1968 97 minutes VHS 701 The Official Story Luis Puenzo Argentina Latin America 1985 112 minutes VHS 376 Pemp Vincent Carelli/Video in the Villages Brazil Latin America 1988 27 minutes VHS 1823 (SEE in Summary: Video in the Villages) Perfumed Nightmare Kidlat Tahimik Philippines Southeast Asia Flower Films 1983 91 minutes VHS 691 Portrait of Teresa Pastor Vega Cuba Latin America Center for Cuban Studies 1979 115 minutes VHS 811 Saaraba Amadou Saalum Seck Senegal Africa California Newsreel 1988 86 minutes VHS 1401 Sugar Cane Alley Euzhan Palcy Martinique Latin America 1984 103 minutes VHS 396 The Time to Live and the Time to Die Hou Hsiao Hsien Taiwan Asia 1986 145 minutes VHS 967 La Vie Est Belle Ngangura Mweze and Benoit Lamy Zaire Africa California Newsreel 1987 83 minutes VHS 1397 Wedding in Galilee Michel Khleifi Palestinian Middle East 1987 113 minutes VHS 727 Wend Kuuni Gaston Kabore Burkina Faso Africa 1982 70 minutes VHS 1402 World of Apu Satyajit Ray India South Asia 1959 103 minutes VHS 44 Woza Albert Percy Mtwa and Mobongeni Ngena, with BBC crew South Africa/BBC Africa California Newsreel 1982 55 minutes VHS 562 Yeelen Souleyman Cisse Mali Africa California Newsreel 1987 105 minutes VHS 1399 Yol Serif Goren, acting for Yilmaz Guney Turkey Middle East Columbia 1982 111 minutes VHS 572 Zan Boko Gaston Kabore Burkina Faso Africa California Newsreel 1988 92 minutes VHS 964 Other films: After the Hunger and Drought Olley Maruma Zimbabwe Africa 1988 52 minutes VHS 564 Discussions among African writers cover subjects of racism, colonialism, neocolonialism, sexism, and generational conflicts in the struggle to produce art that has social resonance. Horse Thief Tian Zhuangzhuang China Asia Facets 88 minutes 1987 VHS 1314 A visually stunning epic of Tibetan life--portrayed as cruel, elemental, ritualistic and also majestic--made by a member of mainland China's "fifth generation" of '80s filmmakers (briefly) recovering personal voices and socially engaged filmmaking. Significant within China, where it was banned, for being what was seen as a sympathetic portrait of the indigenous and autonomous culture of Tibetans. La Magia de lo Real 60 minutes 1981 VHS 1084 "Film essay on the Colombian author, Garcia Marquez, and the people who are source for his works"--AU Library catalog description