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  • Contemporary Hispanic Cinema: Interrogating the Transnational in Spanish and Latin American Film ed. by Stephanie Dennison
  • Sarah Thomas
Dennison, Stephanie, ed. Contemporary Hispanic Cinema: Interrogating the Transnational in Spanish and Latin American Film. Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2013. 244 pp.

Stephanie Dennison’s edited volume provides a wide-ranging introduction to key issues in transnational filmmaking from Spain and Latin America. Its publication is timely, as examinations of the transnational aspects of Latin American and Iberian cinema have taken on increasing visibility and importance in scholarly criticism (for example, serving as the topic of a 2012 issue of the Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos), driven by growing attention to the transnational in cinema studies at large. Within this broader global debate, the volume provides a needed contribution by tracing the particular contours of Hispanic transnational cinema in Latin America, and to a lesser degree, Spain. Its diverse lines of inquiry include: what might constitute a transnational Hispanic cinema; what role transnational funding initiatives play in fostering production and distribution of Latin American cinema; whether such initiatives suppose Spanish neo-colonial hegemony or whether we can speak of a Spanish/Latin American community of shared interests; whether transnational initiatives and collaborations have created an aesthetic that is recognizable or marketable as “Hispanic;” and what the interplay between “national” cinemas and transnational structures of production and distribution looks like in the twenty-first century. The volume suggests avenues for further inquiry valuable to scholars of transnational Hispanic cinema on both sides of the Atlantic, and addresses (in a thoughtful afterword) the on-going evolution of the relationship between Spain and Latin America, especially in the wake of the recent financial crisis.

Based partly on the proceedings of a 2009 symposium and also incorporating additional commissioned chapters, the nine contributions are not formally grouped into thematic sections. However, based on the order in which they are presented they could be classified under three broad categories: “Mapping Terms,” “Funding Initiatives,” and “National Case Studies,” in which several common threads run throughout. The first section, composed of three predominantly conceptual chapters by Dennison, Libia Villazana, and Deborah Shaw, provides an informative and detailed approach to defining the object of study. These chapters theorize the intricacies of what constitutes “Hispanic” and “Latin American” cinema in the transnational geopolitical context (Dennison); interrogate how to define the transnational in cinema through a “transdisciplinary” social science-inflected framework bridging Migration Studies, Film Studies, and Transnational Studies maintaining the methodology of each (Villazana); and seek to deconstruct and solidify the concept of transnational cinema by introducing concrete and interrelated categories of analysis (Shaw). Shaw’s chapter, building on the conceptual questions laid out in the first two, provides an insightful taxonomy for approaching transnational concerns, ranging from economic factors of production and distribution to the presence of transnational stars or directors, exilic or diasporic filmmaking, and multiple filming locations (52–65). These classifications underlie many of the particular case studies that follow. [End Page 647]

The second section of the book, composed of two chapters by Tamara L. Falicov and Núria Triana Toribio, examines key examples of transnational funding: the Programa Ibermedia co-production funding initiative (Falicov) and film festivals as well as the Cine en Construcción funding competition (Triana Toribio). Both chapters provide detailed overviews and analyses of these programs, with special attention to Spain’s potentially neo-colonialist role emblematized by its majority funding share in Ibermedia, which is also based in Spain. Triana Toribio’s nuanced analysis draws from the work of Néstor García Canclini to address the symbiotic relationships between Spanish institutions and Latin American filmmakers. She proposes that despite colonial legacies, these connections might still configure a new “Euro-Latin American space,” that could “shift the axis of audiovisual distribution and exhibition,” away from the dominance of the United States and Hollywood cinema (109).

This Euro-Latin American space is then explored by Marvin D’Lugo’s contribution, which proposes that Pedro Almodóvar’s production ventures through his company El Deseo cultivate a deterritorialized Hispanic sensibility, evidenced by a thought-provoking close reading of the film Volver (2006). This chapter, more optimistic about possibilities for forging a transnational community...


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