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Grégory Valens

Contributing editors
José Carlos Avellar
Steve Ayorinde
Mohammed Bakrim
Olivier Barlet
Pamela Bienzobas
Pedro Butcher
Anchalee Chaiworaporn
Baba Diop
Aijaz Gul
Diego Lerer
Hassouna Mansouri
Luciano Monteagudo
Ashley Ratnavibhushana
Clément Tapsoba
Luvy Virgen
Sergio Wolf


Ronald Bergan
Pamela Bienzobas
Barbara Lorey
Jean Roy
Steven Yates

This project was made possible thanks to the support of IFTC (International Council for Film, Television
and Audiovisual Communication) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).








Cinemas of the South

The origins of this publication are to be found in a triple frustration: first, even though international distribution makes progresses and the work of film festivals worldwide helps making discoveries, the cinemas of the Southern hemisphere are still the ones which have the biggest trouble circulating not only in the Western world, but even and above all on their own continents. Second, most of the studies available in English or French are due to Western specialists, who are very fine connoisseurs of film but cannot but lack of one essential element in analyzing the national cinema of a Southern culture: the belonging to that culture. Finally, it is not easy to read the studies of our colleagues coming from these countries where national cinemas emerge or have lesser known histories, as a lot remains to be translated from works published in languages unknown to a lot of cinephiles in Europe or North America.

The publication of this ensemble tries to answer these frustrations by asking film critics, members of FIPRESCI, in Southern countries to present aspects of their national or continental cinemas. A particular focus has been made on major filmmakers who helped cinematographies in South America, Africa or Southern Asia to be widely known. But we have also wished to present lesser known national cinemas, a direction we will follow up in a second wave of essays which will concern Chilean, Mexican and Nigerian cinemas, among others, as well as further essays on essential steps in the history of Brazilian and African cinematographies.

We hope you enjoy taking the sideways offered by our colleagues from Africa, South America and Southern Asia and following them in the discovery of vivid and diverse cinematographies.

Grégory Valens


African cinema

Adventures and Misadventures of African Cinema. How African Cinema is compromising itself in order to appeal to the larger world by making films about the human, rather than African, condition. Oliver Barlet believes a return to the auteur values of Ousmane Sembene or Souleymane Cissé is the only way to make their film industry great again. Read the article

North African Cinema: Tendencies and Perspectives. There has been a slow but definite recovery in recent years for North African countries after reaching something of a standstill in the 1980s and 90s. Read the article

Western African Cinemas. A perpetual phase of renewal. Clement Tapsoba studies the specificities of West African cinematographies ouest-africaines in the three geopolitical ensembles which compose it: francophone, anglophone and Portuguese speaking. Read the article

Ousmane Sembene: The Elder of Elders. In African Cinema, one director's name stands above all else. Despite a relatively modest output in nearly 50 years of filmmaking, Ousmane Sembene is now looked upon as the father of the continent's cinema because he has made indigenous films with subjects that show no influence from the outside world in terms of form or content. Read the article

Souleymane Cissé. The right of expression through cinema. For Hassouna Mansouri, Mali filmmaker Souleymane Cissé is the one who better treated "the complexes of Africa, the complexity and the richness of its culture". He bases his comment on two essential works, Waati et Yeelen, and analyses the necessity of an examplary oeuvre. Read the article

South American cinema

Writing the speech. A continuing history that transposes the Brazilian Cinema of the 1960s to its renaissance in the 1990s - from directors like Nelson Pereira dos Santos and Glauber Rocha to Walter Salles - with some interesting insights into the way their cinematic language follows progressive codes of semiology akin to spoken and written communication. Read the article

A Dream That Came True. Writing some 20 years later, Carlos Diegues explains how two landmark Brazilian films from 1963 were the culmination of a New Cinema movement in that country and not the start of it. He also draws attention to the Quilombo and their role in the Brazilian dream. Read the article

Making Films with the People. The film-maker and writer Nelson Pereira dos Santos, who helped make Brazilian cinema internationally recognised, introduced a 1975 retrospective of his films in Rio. With some very intriguing stories behind his notable works, he outlines the struggles involved in getting them made. Read the article

The Re-birth of Brazilian Cinema. How the Brazilian Cinema found itself again in the early 21st century after a decade of recovery and reinvention to become, along with Mexico, arguably the most exciting country for elbow new filmmaking talent and producing some internationally acclaimed and commercially successful films. Read the article

Fernando Solanas: a Profile. With a career spanning nearly 45 years, one of Argentina 's most famous directors is just still as passionate now about his art, his country and history as when he began. His documentaries and film essays, alongside controversial fiction films, has often put him at risk of the authorities but he has resolutely continued, taking charge with different aspects of the production himself, therefore making him the ultimate author of his films. Read the article

The Aesthetics of the New Argentinean Cinema. The present day Argentinean cinema is one of great hope for the so-called Generation of Orphans. Aware of their past, new filmmakers such as Pablo Trapero, Alejandro Agresti and Raúl Perrone have created a collective new cinema wave that found a common ground on the streets of Argentina but is now progressing into more individualistic works. Read the article

Pablo Trapero: Family Pictures. One of the most talented directors to have emerged out of Argentinean Cinema in recent years, Pablo Tapero's films have taken a neorealist foundation for a more contemporary and intimate look at the lives of his people, the world they live in and the problems they face. Read the article

Southern Asian cinema

A Short History of Pakistani Films. A look at Pakistani films from their humble but enthusiastic beginnings in the late 1940s through to the present day. Issues of state intervention have dogged this oppressed nation's cinema but an independent film culture has been borne out of the struggles. Read the article

A Brief History of Cinema in Thailand. Compiled by Anchalee Chaiworaporn, the main steps in the history of this rediscovered national cinematography. Read the chronology

New Thai Cinema. The film industry in Thailand has been producing works for eighty three years but with little to contribute to international cinema. In the last ten years, the country has come from nowhere to produce films that are captivating international audiences, and festivals like Cannes. Anchalee Chaiworaporn provides an insight into what went right for the country's cinema. Read the article

Lester James Peries: A Pioneer of a Tradition. A look at how the Sri Lankan cinema was shaped by an individual who, helped by an indigenous literary tradition, set the course and standard for the Sinhalese cinema from the mid-20th Century to the present. Read the article






Adventures and    Misadventures
North African Cinema
   Tendencies, Perspectives

Western Africa
   Perpetual Renewal

Ousmane Sembene
   The Elder of Elders

Souleymane Cissé
   The Right of Expression

   South America

Brazilian cinema
   Writing the speech

Diegues on Rocha
   A Dream That Came True

Nelson Pereira dos Santos
   Making Films with People

The Re-birth
   of Brazilian Cinema

Fernando Solanas
   A Profile

The Aesthetics of the    New Argentinean Cinema
Pablo Trapero
   Family Pictures

   Southern Asia

A Short History
   of Pakistani Films

A Brief History
   of Cinema in Thailand

New Thai Cinema
Lester James Peries
   A Pioneer of a Tradition