Jorge SanjinÉs - Director

Nationality: Bolivian. Born: La Paz, Bolivia, 31 July 1936. Education: Studied filmmaking and philosophy at Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, late 1950s. Career: Made first film, Sueños y realidades , with Oscar Soria, in Bolivia, 1961; named head of Bolivian Film Institute, 1965; left Bolivia following coup led by Hugo Banzer, 1972; returned to Bolivia, 1979. Address: c/o Consejo Nacional del Cine, Casilla 9933, La Paz, Bolivia.

Films as Director:


Sueños y realidades (co-d)


Revolución ; Una día Paulino (co-d)






Yawar mallku ( Blood of the Condor )


El coraje del pueblo


El enemigo principal


Fuera de aquí


Las banderas del amanecer (co-d)


La nacion clandestina (+ sc)


Para recibir el canto de los pajaros (+ sc)



Theory and Practice of a Cinema with the People , with Ukamau Group and Richard Schaaf, Willimantic, 1989.

By SANJINÉS:articles—

"Cinema and Revolution," an interview in Cineaste (New York), Winter 1970/71.

" Ukamau and Yawar Mallku : An Interview with Jorge Sanjinés," in Afterimage (London), Summer 1971.

"Sobre Fuera de Aquí! ," and "Llamado del Grupo Ukamau ," in Cine Cubano (Havana), no. 93, 1980.

"El Cine revolucionario en Bolivia," in Cine Cubano (Havana), no. 99, 1981.

"Faire du cinéma un instrument de liberation," an interview with G. Gervais, in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), March 1982.

"Nuestro principal destinatario," in Cine Cubano (Cuba), no. 105, 1983.

"Revolutionary Cinema: The Bolivian Experience," in Cinema and Social Change in Latin America: Conversations with Filmmakers , edited by Julianne Burton, Austin, Texas, 1986.

"El plano secuencia integral," in Cine Cubano (Cuba), no. 125, 1989.

"Voraussetzung fuer das Verstaendnis sind Interesse an und Achtung gegenueber der anderen Kultur," an interview with R. Nierich and P. B. Schumann, in Filmbulletin , vol. 33, no. 4, 1991.

On SANJINÉS: books—

Gisbert, Carlos D. Mesa, and others, Cine Boliviano: Del realizador al critico , La Paz, 1979.

Gisbert, Carlos D. Mesa, La aventura del cine boliviano 1952–85 , La Paz, 1985.

Armes, Roy, Third-World Filmmaking and the West , Berkeley, 1987.

On SANJINÉS: articles—

Wilson, David, "Aspects of Latin American Political Cinema," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1972.

Campbell, Leon G., and Carlos Cortes, "Film as Revolutionary Weapon: A Jorge Sanjinés Retrospective," in History Teacher , May 1979.

Ledgard, M., "Jorge Sanjinés: El cine urgente," in Hablemos de Cine (Lima), June 1981.

West, Dennis, "Film and Revolution in the Andes," in New Scholar (San Diego), vol. 8, no. 1/2, 1982.

West, Dennis, "Alternative Cinema in Latin America," in Roads to Freedom: The Struggle against Dependence in the Developing World , edited by Edwin G. Clausen and Jack Bermingham, Brookfield, Vermont, 1989.

Ruggle, W., "Die eigene Identitaet zurueckerobern," in Filmbulletin , vol. 33, no. 4, 1991.

Malandrin, Stéphane, "Toulouse à l'heure latine," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1995.

Convents, G., in Film en Televisie + Video (Brussels), October 1995.

Chaput, Luc, "Jorge Sanjines: Amérindien mon frére," in Séquences (Haute-Ville), September-October 1997.

* * *

The Bolivian Jorge Sanjinés has become internationally recognized as a leading filmmaker in spite of the fact that his country has few significant filmmaking traditions or production facilities. Working outside of a film-industry context, Sanjinés has doggedly overcome formidable obstacles, including economic ones. For instance, to finance the fiction feature Yawar mallku Sanjinés and other members of his Ukamau production group sold personal belongings and accepted contributions. After finishing Yawar mallku , members of the Ukamau collective toured the Bolivian highlands with a 16mm print and portable projection equipment in an effort to reach the film's intended audience—the Indian peasantry.

Sanjinés is a militant filmmaker whose primary goal is to bring a revolutionary Marxist political agenda to peasant and working-class audiences. His principal films respond to a militant Marxist aesthetic by examining oppressed collective protagonists (for example, an Andean peasant community) in their historical situations, by educating viewers to an understanding of those situations, and by inspiring audiences to transform the political and socioeconomic status quo in order to build a higher stage of society. The depiction of oppression in these films has in some cases been based on documented historical events.

Sanjinés's works offer a defense of the Andean Indian way of life and expose and attack the Indians' enemies. Yawar mallku denounces a Progress Corps (read Peace Corps) pediatrics clinic that sterilizes unsuspecting Andean women, while in the documentary reconstruction El coraje del pueblo , Bolivian government and military officials responsible for the massacres of Indian miners are specifically identified. The fiction feature El enemigo principal illustrates the exploitation and brutality suffered by indigenous peasants at the hands of powerful landowners and links the power of the landowners to U.S. imperialism. The mise-en-scène of these films reflects Sanjinés's defense of the Indian way of life. For instance, in El enemigo principal the Inca heritage of the modern Andean Indian pervades the mise-en-scène: the predominance of Quechua dialogue, the centuriesold custom of chewing coca leaves, the trapezoidal niches and doors characterizing Inca masonry, the ancient agricultural ritual, the everyday work of spinning and weaving.

The structural, narrative, and stylistic approaches used by Sanjinés have evolved in accordance with his basic goal of optimum communication with his peasant and working-class audiences. When exhibiting Yawar mallku to Indians in remote areas, Sanjinés drew on an Inca oral tradition; and before showing the film he first had a narrator introduce the story and the characters to the cinematically unsophisticated audiences. Later, in El enemigo principal , Sanjinés built a narrator into the film itself: a well-known Indian peasant leader periodically appears to speak, in Quechua, directly to viewers in order to introduce the characters and events which will follow. From peasant reaction to his early films, Sanjinés found that unsophisticated viewers were shocked when a close shot follows an establishing shot. Therefore, in El enemigo principal outdoor group scenes appear initially in long shot; and then the camera slowly zooms in, much as a spectator would approach. Although Yawar mallku involved an Indian community in the filming, Sanjinés later sought from indigenous groups an even more active collective participation in an effort to make films "from the people, to the people." In El coraje del pueblo , survivors of the army's 1967 massacre of miners actively participated in the filmmaking by re-creating their own activities before and during the bloodbath.

Since the appearance of Yawar mallku , Sanjinés has been a well-known and controversial figure in Bolivia; but he has at times been banished from his native country by right-wing regimes because of his highly political filmmaking activities. International critical opinion considers Sanjinés one of the leading Latin American militant filmmakers because of his oft-demonstrated ability to make aesthetically and politically significant feature films—both documentaries and fiction features—in spite of extremely limited technical and financial resources.

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