Academic journal article Communication Research Trends

Research on Colombian Cinema

Academic journal article Communication Research Trends

Research on Colombian Cinema

Article excerpt

1. A Look Back: A Brief Account of Audiovisual Production in Colombia

An investigation into Colombian cinema bears a strong resemblance to the cinema production of that country. Both are marked by a general unfamiliarity with what preceded them; both are incipient but more important than the general public estimates; and both lose their impact when fragmented or not communicated to others.

National cinema has always been subject to the ebb and flow of cultural politics of a state that goes from little support for the film industry to not supporting it at all, and back again to providing some help. The promotion of the industry has not been enough, even though we must recognize that in the last years this situation has improved a little thanks to Law 814 in 2003 (the "Cinema Law"), which for the first time regulates and promotes cinema activity in the country.

The public and Colombian cinema have undergone a relationship marked by encounters and disagreements, mutual convenience and the ongoing complaints of audiences facing the combination of cinema reality and violence that appears in Colombian cinema. This has led to the public's inability to connect with the stories that the national cinema presents.

In the first half of the 20th century, Colombian cinema took inspiration from Colombian literature. This gave it characteristics similar to that literature: bucolic, local, romantic, with high doses of nostalgia for the countryside (especially in the transition from rural to urban areas, which began in the fifties with a massive migration to the cities). These characteristics clearly appear in works of literature such as Maria by Jorge Isaacs; in 1922 this became the first movie in Colombian cinema (Maximo Calvo, director). In these early years, other movies that claim the "campesino" style include Alma Provinciana (Felix Rodriguez, 1925), Alle en el trapiche (Roberto Saa, 1943), and Flores del valle (Maximo Calvo, 1941). Unfortunately for the history of Colombian cinema, many of the early movies were lost or have deteriorated in family or personal archives, and today none of these copies are conserved due to the lack of state policies on archives and document conservation, policies that took form only in 1986.

Between the first years and the 1940s, Colombian cinema dedicated itself to designing an idealized image of the country through a nostalgic cinema featuring rural values, traditional customs, and folklore. Between 1922 (the year of the first production) and 1940, Colombian cinema released 13 movies featuring these themes alone. From the 1950s only five productions remain, none of them representative of the national film history; only in 1965 did the first milestone in national film making occur, with the exhibition of the movie El Rio de las tumbas (Julio Luzardo, 1965), a political film of good technical quality and storytelling. This movie preceded another big production Pasado el meridiano (Jose Maria Arzuaga, 1967), which according to many critics, marked a pivotal point for the history of Colombian cinema.

In the 1960s and 1970s the influence of international movements such as Italian Neo-realism, the French New Wave, and the Brazilian Cinema Novo became evident in Colombian cinema. A committed and activist film movement, with Marxist political influence and a greater tendency to documentary, introduced a new group of young filmmakers educated abroad. They brought to the big screen "complaint stories," inspired by internal conflicts and social inequalities.

The 1980s manifested the need in Colombia to build a national film industry, even over the objections of a wide range of critics and aesthetic concerns. Some good movies had to share space with a variety of films of the so-called "popular cinema," which sought to reach the public with light products, ranging from the purely entertaining to the grotesque. Its main purpose was to build up a Colombian film tradition that a mass audience would enjoy, through a simple narrative technique with low technical costs--a cheap film that would achieve good results. …

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