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  • On Pirate Cinema and Crying in Airports:A Conversation with Alberto Fuguet
  • Brantley Nicholson and Lucia Reinaga

Conducted September 11, 2009.

Brantley Nicholson:

You describe yourself as a onetime film critic, which leads the outside observer to believe that you have given up criticism in order to become a full-time screenwriter, director, and film producer. Describe the role of cinema in contemporary Latin America letters and your involvement in the website Cinépata.

Alberto Fuguet:

First of all, for disclosure, I think that it is worth noting that it is dangerous to discuss what has been written about authors in the media. There are many things that are written about authors that are not true. And there are also things that writers write about people that are not true. I believe that I put that in my blog, onetime film critic because at one time, I was a real film critic, or a traditional film critic. I actually paid attention to the weekly film premiers. But I suppose that when I said that I was a onetime film critic, it meant that I will not always be a critic. I am interested in film criticism and I find it very important. Two years ago, I published a book about a film critic called Una vida crítica. I spent a lot of time and energy on that book. And for me it is a very important book in my body of work. I summarized forty years of Chilean film criticism in the book because, for me, film criticism is very important, a literary genre unto itself, in any language; it is something that I have read, that has helped me and that I have debated. I like it a lot. I read Anthony Lane from the New Yorker, for example, and feel that film criticism speaks about something just as key in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as cinema itself.


Do you view cinema as just as important as textual literature?


Why don't we say maybe more? I'm saying maybe, but I view it as a text. And even if it were not, but I think it is, we must take into consideration that there are more people watching movies than reading. And even though you can't just use numbers to quantify a problem, I think to ignore those numbers is to be elitist. [End Page 202]


How would you view the role of cinema in Latin America then? Right now we are saying that, globally, cinema is possibly more important than text-based literature, what about in Latin America?


Well in Latin America, I would say that, if we open the question up to audiovisual mediums, from video clips to shorts to telenovelas and bad TV, or generally fiction on TV, not just bad TV—narratives that are told through images and words—it's our glue. And many could say that telenovelas, which I personally don't like, are one of our contributions to global culture. In Brazil, for instance, El golem, probably has been more provocative on a massive scale than Jorge Amado. Not to mention that writers like Manuel Puig are very influenced by telenovelas and los radioteatros.


Discussing a more popular register, then, Cinépata is not all popular, it does not offer telenovela material. You set up Cinépata to disseminate Latin American cinema to a wider audience; would you discuss your goals with the website?


Just because I don't watch telenovelas, that does not mean that I don't know that they exist. I know that they are popular, like I know that Transformers 3 is the number one box office hit in the United States right now. I am alive and I am living in the world. I know what is working and what people are interested in. I believe that Hollywood, to use the word, or Televisa, has big enough channels to show these types of programs. And they basically dominate the market, or the cultural market. So, Cinépata is not trying to compete with them because I am not going to beat Hollywood; I am not going...


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pp. 202-217
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