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1 Lesson 12: A Latina’s Voice: Is Authenticity Possible? Professor Daniel Bernardi / Professor Michelle Martinez.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Lesson 12: A Latina’s Voice: Is Authenticity Possible? Professor Daniel Bernardi / Professor Michelle Martinez."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Lesson 12: A Latina’s Voice: Is Authenticity Possible? Professor Daniel Bernardi / Professor Michelle Martinez

2 2 In the last lecture… Documentary Films -As anthropology -As self-representation “What about that other alien?” -Criminalization of undocumented immigrants -Documenting the undocumented

3 3 In this lecture… The three waves of Chicano/a Film Postmodernism and the Mexican-American border dilemma Lourdes Portillo: Chicana Cinema –La Ofrenda (1988) –The Devil Never Sleeps (1994)

4 4 Three Waves of Chicano Cinema Lesson 12: Part 1

5 5 1 st Wave (1969-76) Radical documentary Era Cinematic expression of a culturally nationalist movement Politically contestational and formally oppositional

6 6 Nationalism “Recognizing that the Latino experience had been denigrated and stereotyped by the dominant cinema and that Latino talent was largely ignored by the industry, the First Wave turned its back on Hollywood and found inspiration in revolutionary Cuban documentaries.” -Charles Ramirez Berg (185)

7 7 Cinema for La Raza Goals for the First Wave: –Decolonialize consciousness –Educate Chicanos about their heritage –Give voice to silenced history –Instill ethnic pride by celebrating culture –Mold a self-determined identity –Expose conditions of oppression –Mobilize La Raza politically, culturally, socially

8 8 2 nd Wave (1977-present) Marks changes in movement Still rebellious, not as separatist Accessibility to mainstream funding (includes PBS) Appearance of narrative films Emergence of Chicana filmmakers

9 9 Mainstream Recognition Second Wave Feature Length Films: –Zoot Suit (1981) –La Bamba (1987) –The Ballad of Gergorio Cortez (1982) –The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) –El Norte (1982) –Mi Familia (1995) –Selena (1997)

10 10 Mainstream Recognition continued –Born In East L.A. (1987) –Stand and Deliver (1988) –American Me (1992) –Blood In, Blood Out (1993)

11 11 Chicana Rising The Second Wave introduced Chicana documentarians, experimental filmmakers and videographers, and feature length screenwriters: –Sylvia Morales (Chicana [1979]) –Lourdes Portillo (La Ofrenda [1989]) –Susan Rancho (Garment Workers [1975]) –Frances Salomé (España Anima [1989]) –Sandra P. Hahn (Replies of the Night [1989]) –Evelina Fernandez (Luminarias [2000])

12 12 3 rd Wave (late 1980s-present) Mostly made up of genre films Inside and outside of Hollywood Adheres closely to Hollywood paradigm

13 13 3 rd Wave (late 1980s-present) continued Films do not accentuate Chicano resistance or oppression Ethnicity is one of many facts that shape lives of characters

14 14 The Big Point Chicana/o Film production emerged from a grassroots, low-budget call-to-arms movement to a refined,financially-backed industry, creating big names and garnering a mainstream audience. Chicana/o film production has gone through various phases to get this recognition.

15 15 The Big Point continued Beginning with nationalist themes and a “by La Raza for La Raza” mindset to an informative and subversive historical documentary phase, retelling histories from inside the culture merging into a phase that has landed on international screens and prime time television, stating Chicano/a and Latino/a ethnicity, not as an “other” but as a “matter of fact.”

16 16 Postmodernism and Border Documentary Lesson 12: Part 2

17 17 Postmodernism “Postmodernists argue that a decentralized society inevitably creates responses/perceptions that are described as post-modern, such as the rejection of what are seen as the false, imposed unities of meta-narrative and hegemony; the breaking of traditional frames of genre, structure and stylistic unity; and the overthrowing of categories that are the result of logocentrism and other forms of artificially imposed order.”

18 18 Postmodernism continued “Scholars who accept the division of post- modernity as a distinct period believe that society has collectively eschewed modern ideals and instead adopted ideas that are rooted in the reaction to the restrictions and limitations of those ideas, and that the present is therefore a new historical period.” -Wikipedia For more information on Postmodernism click here For more information on Postmodernism click here

19 19 Chicana/os as Postmodernists “Mexican Americans have lived with realities that we now call postmodern— fragmentation, heterogeneity, hybridity, an ironic relation to the past, and a healthy skepticism about the master narratives of progress, liberation, and science—for the past 150 years.” (197) - Charles Ramirez Berg

20 20 Border Discourse “ Of course, in a broad sense, all or nearly all Chicana/o filmmakers—whether they work in fiction or nonfiction cinema—are border documentarians, in that their films almost always refer back to our Mexican roots, directly or indirectly juxtaposing that heritage with their present American existence.” (198) - Charles Ramirez Berg

21 21 The Cinematic Discourse on the Border and Immigration Chicana/o borderland documentaries break with the mass media’s perspective on the border Hollywood’s system treatment of the border lies in its underlying assumption that Americans must be “compelled” to cross into Mexico That people in the movies don’t just go- they have to be pushed into going Hollywood typically places protagonists south of the border as escape from something on the north side

22 22 Hollywood’s Ethnocentrism “No one in the movies needs an excuse to visit and vacation in Western Europe, but how often do Americans go to Mexico to meet the people, to study Mexican art, history, or music, to sample the food, or to see the sights? Such activities would imply the possibility of learning something from Mexico and Mexicans, something Hollywood’s ethnocentric prejudice typically denies even the most open-minded, liberal, countercultural characters.” (199) -Charles Ramirez Berg

23 23 Border as Plot Device Likeable thieves running from the law Adventurers looking for a good time (party) Lovers fleeing romantic entanglements Business men or swindlers looking to improve their fortune Disenchanted expatriates seeking retreat

24 24 Chicana/o Crossings “In contrast, the people in Chicana/o border documentaries voluntarily return to Mexico, either physically, or in their dreams and memories, or in their folkways (music, murals, food). Moreover, as opposed to Hollywood’s south-of-the- border travelers, these willing border crossers do so almost entirely for cultural reasons.” (199-200) -Charles Ramirez Berg

25 25 The Big Point The experiences of Mexican-Americans and their film production is a discourse that reflects postmodernism in the following ways: double-coding and contradictions, hybridity, ironic attitude towards history, tradition and memory, an oppositional stance, and an incoherent narrative. This great mix of attitudes and expressions are not only postmodern in form and content, but reflect the mix that informs Chicana/o identity.

26 26 Lourdes Portillo Lesson 12: Part 3

27 27 Chicana Cinema Born in Mexico in 1944 Her father was an administrator for a newspaper office Because of his job, there were many different kinds of books around the house; she was an avid reader Moved to Los Angeles as an adolescent

28 28 Informed by Freud, Marx “The Soviets were giving magazines away in Mexico and I thought what a romantic place this was because they depicted the Soviet Union in a very romantic way. And also, I remember Bohemia, which was another magazine that was published in Cuba, a very famous magazine I found out later. You know, those things I remember affecting me a lot. And also, later when we came to the United States, we still had a lot of books, because my father was always working in some kind of printing thing. I remember reading Freud when I was fifteen.” -From an interview with Lourdes Portillo by Michelle Martinez

29 29 Films After the Earthquake/Despues del Terremoto (1979) –Short narrative film about Central American exiles to San Francisco –Explores assimilation Las Madres: The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (1986) –Documentary exploring the political crisis regarding disappearances in Argentina –Nominated for an Academy Award

30 30 Films Vida (1989) –Short narrative film about a Latina with AIDS in NYC Columbus On Trial (1992) –Collaboration with Culture Clash –Subversive performance video challenging notions about Christopher Columbus

31 31 Films Corpus: A Home Movie for Selena (1999) –Feature length documentary about the impact of Selena on girls/women in TX Conversations With Intellectuals About Selena (1999) –Documentary My McQueen (2004) –Documentary exploring filming of Bullit –Explores masculinity

32 32 La Ofrenda La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead (1988) –Cultural exploration of Mexican heritage –Documents celebrations of El Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico –Then shifts to celebrations in San Francisco –Bilingual/Transborder –Won several honors on film festival circuit

33 33 La Ofrenda as ofrenda “With Las Madres I ended up very angry after finding out everything that I found out. It was devastating for me. And the way I reacted was, ‘Let’s talk about death the way Mexicans talk about death. Let’s find out what it’s about in Mexico. It will be a happier film’.”

34 34 La Ofrenda as ofrenda continued “So basically, that’s what it was. And at the same time, I saw at La Galeria de la Raza, my friend Ralph Maradiaga started doing these beautiful celebrations for the dead. It was just the very very beginning of the renaissance of The Day of the Dead in the United States. I wanted to capture that moment, because it went on to become a cultural phenomenon, right now.” -From an interview with Lourdes Portillo by Michelle Martinez

35 35 As Postmodern “…for the unassimilated Mexican American, the move (between Mexico and the U.S) is smooth and natural and makes sense culturally because it mimics the back-and- forth cultural shifts that Mexican Americans make daily.” (208) -Charles Ramirez Berg

36 36 The Devil Never Sleeps The Devil Never Sleeps/ EI Diablo Nunca Duerme (1994)

37 37 The Devil Never Sleeps continued Experimental documentary that blurs the lines between borders: –Private/public –Voyeur/exhibitionist –Mexico/United States –Filmmer/Filmed –Spanish/English Example of Chicana Film Noir –Filmmaker as detective

38 38 Experimental Form “…using mirrors in film is very evocative, because you are already seeing a mirror, then a mirrored mirror, you know what I’m saying? That was a strategy that we used in filming The Devil Never Sleeps that was really thought out with the cinematographer.” -From an interview with Lourdes Portillo by Michelle Martinez

39 39 As Postmodern “The primary message for Mexican American viewers is that, for all their nostalgia about their roots, they can’t easily go home again. What’s worse, with Mexican Americans marginalized from both the U.S. and Mexican systems, they have no home. From this perspective, The Devil Never Sleeps is a persuasive postmodern treatise on Mexican American alienation, illustrating how we are caught betwixt and between, unable to fit on either side of the border.” (213) -Charles Ramirez Berg

40 40 Señorita Extraviada Señorita Extraviada: Missing Young Woman (2001) –Documentary –Tells the story of the hundreds of kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico –Filmmaker as investigator –Examines global economy

41 41 Seeking Justice through Film “…Señorita Extraviada, was very very hard for me because the theme of it was so hard, what’s happening is so hard, and then the follow up and doing all of the human rights work was very difficult. It took me like five years to actually get it out of my system, you know.” -From an interview with Lourdes Portillo by Michelle Martinez

42 42 The Big Point Portillo’s unique style in filmmaking has brought her critical attention and she has opened the door for many younger Latina filmmakers. Her ease as a transborder investigator is indelibly postmodern as work seeks truth in solving mysteries of identity.

43 43 End of Lecture 12 Next Lecture: Resistance ain’t futile, is it?

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