Ism, Ism, Ism: Recycled Film in Latin America

Film - Feature | October 10 | 7-8:15 p.m. |  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive


 Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

A 1960 Cuban newsreel (Number 49) shows triumphant supporters of the Revolution atop the former offices of Warner Brothers and United Artists on the island, smashing the signage of those Hollywood distributors with sledgehammers. Over the images of the large, illuminated letters falling one by one, an unseen narrator intones soberly: “for many years, North American films poisoned the screens of Cuban cinemas, justifying imperialism and preaching violence and crime. . . . Now we can see the revolutionary films from all over the world.” With these and other expropriations, the new Cuban administration also seized countless reels of commercial films, later to be fragmented and repurposed in a variety of ICAIC productions. The reuse of Hollywood footage (as well as fragments from other national cinemas, including its own) in postrevolutionary Cuban cinema resonates with an important tradition of appropriation and recycling within the history of the Latin American avant-garde. In Oswald de Andrade’s landmark 1928 provocation, Manifesto antropófago, the polemical poet calls for seizure and ingestion: “I am only concerned with what is not mine. Law of Man. Law of the cannibal.” The practice of experimental filmmaking with appropriated fragments of preexisting movies suggests the cannibal archetype functions not just as a paradigm for a critical cinematic practice, but also more broadly as a strategy of decolonization and as a powerful model for Latin American cultural production.

 CA,, 5106420808