Despite its scant international visibility, Latin American cinema has a long and complex history bound to international aesthetic movements and local social conditions, global economics—particularly the control of distribution by transnational conglomerates—and the building of national cultures. These particular dialectics between center and periphery intensify cinema's intrinsic tension between its industrial base and its aesthetic presumptions as well as its dual, contradictory nature as an art form and a commodity. As a result, Latin American filmmakers developed over decades the theoretical and practical foundations of postcolonial Third World Cinema, as articulated in the Cuban theory of Imperfect Cinema, the Argentinean theory of Third Cinema, and the Brazilian movements first of Cinema Novo and later of Tropicalism.

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