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Writing National Cinema

Film Journals and Film Culture in Peru

Jeffrey Middents

Publication Year: 2009

Writing National Cinema traces the twenty-year history of the Peruvian film journal Hablemos de cine alongside that of Peruvian filmmaking and film culture. Similar to the influential French journal Cahiers du cinema, Hablemos de cine began with a group of young critics interested in claiming the director's use of mise-en-scene as the exclusive method of film analysis rather than thematic or star-oriented topics -- hence, the title of the publication, derived from their battle cry at post-screening discussions: "Let's talk about film." Their critical authority grew with the rise of local filmmaking and the nationalist fervor of the late 1960s and early 1970s. When government sponsorship spurred feature filmmaking in the mid-1970s, their perspective eschewed the politically militant readings that characterized most writing and film from the rest of Latin America at the time. By the 1980s, the critics at Hablemos de cine had helped to engender a commercial, Hollywood-influenced cinematic vision--best exemplified by Peruvian auteur Francisco Lombardi--and stimulated a unique, if isolating, national identity through film. The first book-length study of Peruvian film culture to appear in English, Middents's work offers thoughtful consideration of the impact of criticism on the visual stylings of a national cinema.

Published by: Dartmouth College Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. v


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p. vi

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pp. vii-viii

This project first came to light in 1998 and therefore there are many people to thank. First and foremost, I must warmly thank Carina Yervasi, Margarita de la Vega-­ Hurtado, Catherine Benamou, and Santiago Colás, who helped shepherd and steer this project while I was a graduate student at the University of Michigan. My colleagues at American University...

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pp. 1-14

South American cinema was especially ripe for the confluence between critic and filmmaker in the mid-1960s, when a growing worldwide trend in cinephilia arrived at the time that filmmaking was becoming possible again (during World War II, cinematic efforts had been halted throughout the continent). In Peru, the emergence of an as yet undefined national cinematic tradition coincided with the...

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1. A History of the Peruvian Cinematic Tradition

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pp. 15-42

Isaac León’s introductory statements in his first attempt at delineating a history of Peruvian filmmaking within the pages of Hablemos de cine has the characteristic tone of the time of its writing in the late 1960s. Not only in Peru, but in cinematic traditions as varied as those of France, Cuba, and even the United States, the late 1960s marked the rise of “new cinemas,” characterized just by using the moniker...

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2. Publication, Authority, Identity: Constructing the Film Journal

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pp. 43-66

Before the first issue was published, Isaac León Frías, Federico de Cárdenas, Carlos Rodríguez Larraín, and Juan Bullitta put to paper the initial plans for Hablemos de cine. According to a typed, unpublished document dated January 2, 1965, the publication would comprise a one- to two-page editorial, written by the editor-in- chief...

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3. Shaping Peruvian Taste: “Good” and “Bad” Peruvian Movies

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pp. 67-95

From the very first issue in February 1965, the fostering of active local film production was a major goal of Hablemos de cine. As stated in its opening editorial: “The purpose that we have proposed is to make films in Peru, to which end we wish to stimulate an eagerness in the development of the art of our time...

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4. Latin American Dis/Connections: Peru versus the New Latin American Cinema

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pp. 96-126

Filmmaking in the late 1960s and the early 1970s from several regions throughout the world often reflected and embraced a politically motivated activism. Referred to by many Eurocentric critics as “new cinema,” these films reacted to productions, strategies, themes, and aesthetic considerations that were regarded by some as “dominant” or hegemonic within most Hollywood and European commercial...

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5. For a Few Minutes: Considering the Short-­ Film Industry

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pp. 127-147

At the dawn of cinema, all films were “short,” no more than ten minutes or the length of one reel. The short film was simply another part of an entertainment program descended from vaudeville that also featured newsreels, cartoons, and live performances. Eventually, narratives lengthened to cover several reels to be-­ come the “feature film” and short-­ film exhibition was relegated to exhibition...

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6. Creating the “Lombardi Generation”: The Rise of an Urban Cinematic Aesthetic

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pp. 148-179

When Hablemos de cine covered a short-­ film contest in 1965, the editorial that opened volume 12 commented in passing that “it cannot be overlooked that the majority of films presented came from the provinces. Limeños seem to be less interested in film.”1 True enough: of the seven films reviewed from the festival, only Jorge Volkert’s Forjadores de mañana, the second-­ place winner, was actually set in Lima. The editors loved the winner, César Villanueva’s Estampas del...

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7. The Changing of the Guard: Peruvian Cinema in the Twenty-first Century

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pp. 180-215

Peruvian feature films of the 1980s and 1990s suggest a distinct voice and vision that could not be identified as explicitly Hollywood, European, or even Latin American, despite being obviously influenced by all those cinematic traditions; they also do not look anything like Peruvian features of the 1960s. At the same time, by the time of its closing for economic reasons in 1985, Hablemos de cine...


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pp. 217-250


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pp. 251-263


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pp. 265-276

E-ISBN-13: 9781584658429
E-ISBN-10: 1584658428
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584657767

Page Count: 290
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 646815632
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Writing National Cinema

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Film criticism -- Peru -- History.
  • Motion pictures -- Peru -- History -- 20th century.
  • Motion pictures -- Periodicals -- History.
  • Peruvian periodicals -- History -- 20th century.
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