Creating Alternative Images: "The Others" Present Themselves
The previous section gave us a historical sense of the presentation of "the Other" in films focusing on Latinos. In this section of the book, we look at how the Others have presented themselves and the alternative images they have created. A historical overview of films and developments in Puerto Rican cinema in New York is the subject of Chapter 11 by Jiménez. In her description, we see the outlines of a Puerto Rican vision that challenged, in very basic ways, then-accepted practices. According to Jiménez, the films produced by Puerto Rican filmmakers were intended to "expose the terrible conditions under which Puerto Ricans were forced to live." The films were also intended to challenge the assumptions under which these conditions thrived. An important message of these films was the need to re-create and rebuild the institutions and the society that had engendered the conditions. Finally, Jiménez notes how Puerto Rican filmmakers privileged poor people and highlighted the active resistance of Puerto Ricans against unjust conditions. She places in historical context the persistent Puerto Rican protests to negative media depictions and thus puts to rest the image of Puerto Ricans and other Latinos as passive, accepting, silent victims. She also describes how Puerto Rican filmmakers took up the struggle to "discover their history" and "to expose, challenge and change their reality and images." (Their situation is similar to that of the Chicano filmmakers described by Noriega in Chapter 5.)
At the forefront of efforts by "the Others" to redefine themselves is the work by Latina filmmakers. In Chapter 12, Kotz examines the new perspectives that Latinas bring to filmmaking. She also explores the institutional, structural, psychological, and aesthetic reasons why Latinas choose documentaries as their medium. Kotz clarifies the differences between these Latinas and male filmmakers, for example, in the frequent integration of fiction, documentary, biography, and autobiography in Latina films. She documents Latina contributions to filmmaking in general while also showing how in mixing genres Latinas acknowledge the complex relationships between women's external and internal realities.