Marxism



THE THIRD WORLD

The cinema of Latin America, Asia, and Africa has produced what many critics argue to be the most radical cinema, despite often meager production resources of the overexploited nations interested in participating in cinematic discourse about Western imperialism. Many Third World films of a radical orientation enjoy little if any distribution within the United States; as a consequence, the work of Marxist directors from Latin America or Africa are often lost to all but the most diligent radical scholars. A key example of the problem is Hora de los hornos ( The Hour of the Furnaces , 1967), by the Argentine director Fernando Solanas (b. 1936), with Octavio Getino (b. 1935) and Santiago Alvarez (1919–1998), one of the most radical condemnations, in agitprop form, of American and European imperialism ever filmed, which has yet to appear in the United States in a serviceable video or DVD version. The Cuban filmmaker Santiago Alvarez is perhaps the most renowned documentarian working in a communist country. His rather modest, often satirical agitprop films, such as LBJ (1968), and the tributes to Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh, Hasta la victoria siempre (Until the Victory Always, 1967), and 79 primaveras ( 79 Springs , 1969), are remarkable works partaking fully of the avant-garde tradition in their satirical montage, their caustic condemnation of imperialism, and their celebration of the international struggle for liberation. Another Cuban filmmaker, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (1928–1996), offers a sophisticated meditation on liberalism and its hypocritical equivocations in Memorias del subdesarrollo ( Memories of Underdevelopment , 1968).

Africa's most renowned radical director is perhaps the Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene (b. 1923), whose films offer sublime, understated challenges to Western imperialism in a career spanning almost forty years. His Emitai (God of Thunder, 1971) is representative of his project of reclaiming African identity as it forces the Western viewer to understand her or his own imagination, and the ways by which this imagination has been projected on Africa. Concerned with the French occupation of Senegal during World War II and a resultant massacre, the film is among the most important postwar challenges by an African filmmaker. Sembene's film Xala ( The Curse , 1975) deconstructs the colonialist mindset as internalized by the colonized—as such, Xala is a kind of cinema reflection on the essential thesis of Frantz Fanon's pivotal 1961 study The Wretched of the Earth . Guelwaar (1992) is an especially relevant comment on conflicts between the Muslim and Christian worlds in contemporary Africa, as it foregrounds the ongoing struggle for freedom from colonialism.

In the Middle East, Iran at the beginning of the twenty-first century seems to have the strongest potential for the production of a radical cinema despite its theocratic government. Dariush Mehrjui (b. 1939) appears an heir to Buñuel in such films as Baanoo ( The Lady , 1999) and Dayereh mina ( The Cycle , 1978). The prolific filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (b. 1940) has enjoyed much acclaim in recent years for his largely humanist films.



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