Transnational filmmaking in South America

Authored by: Dolores Tierney

The Routledge Companion to World Cinema

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138918801
eBook ISBN: 9781315688251
Adobe ISBN:


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Different forms of transnational filmmaking have been a feature of Latin American film production since its inception, an eagerly sought out option since the 1970s, and an increasing necessity since the late 1980s and early 1990s (García Canclini 1997: 256). What has changed in Latin America over the last twenty years to make the transnational mode so key has been a shift in the way the state funds and organises Latin America’s national industries. As the state has lessened or completely withdrawn financial support for the different national filmmaking endeavours, filmmakers have had to seek funding opportunities privately and often abroad from Europe and the United States. At the same time, media conglomerates and quasi-state cultural organisations in Europe and the US, as well as some individual auteurs such as Pedro Almodóvar, have looked to Latin America to develop new markets and to seek out cultural renewal (D’Lugo 2003: 104; Donoghue 2014). This dismantling of state protection for national filmmaking and exposure to global market forces has had both detrimental and beneficial effects on its major national industries. On the one hand, these measures have decimated production numbers and further increased the hold Hollywood films have on the domestic box office. On the other hand, these measures have facilitated both the distribution and circulation of some films and creative and technical personnel across borders and into global film markets and metropolitan production venues and initiated a series of artistically innovative but also commercially successful films. Although the state has, in the course of these twenty years, returned to a position of dominance in support for filmmaking in the three major national traditions (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina), and production numbers have recovered, contemporaneously, state support (via a system of grants, loans, subsidies, tax incentives and screen quotas) only accounts for a part of a film’s complex financial structure. At some point in their development, production, post-production or distribution, Latin American films may benefit from a form of financial support that comes from outside its national borders, whether it is funding from a European or US institution or from a Motion Picture Academy member company with these latter agencies proving essential in order to secure distribution both domestically and abroad. These differing forms of transnational support are actively encouraged and sought out by the state. Prominent filmmakers have also emerged as key players in this transnationalised cinematic sphere. Acting as mediators between the art and commerce of filmmaking, and using the leverage their transnational careers have afforded them, Latin America’s most famous transnational directors (Iñárritu, Cuarón, del Toro, Meirelles, Salles) and their production companies (Esperanto Filmoj, VideoFilmes, Tequila Gang, Cha Cha Chá, O2 Filmes) have played an active role in fomenting the film cultures in their respective nations (D’Lugo 2003: 103).

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