Common interests, competing subjectivities: U.S. and Latin American avant-garde film theory and practice
Childress, Sarah Louise
This study focuses on seven canonical filmmakers of the 1960s: Fernando Birri, Stan Brakhage, TomÃ¡s GutiÃ©rrez Alea, Glauber Rocha, Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, and Andy Warhol. By reading their manifestos and interviews in conversation with their films, we can see how their public statements about filmmaking serve as a place of epistemological reflection. Their films enact these questions while also presenting perspectives that challenge established ideas. Central to their investigations is a focus on subjectivity. In contrast to political modernism, which emphasizes how film practice can determine subjectivity, I examine how filmmaker concepts of subjectivity shape their formal experiments. I also read their manifestos, interviews, and films in conversation with one another and, by doing so, I have discovered a variety of common interests and shared influences that connect them. How systemic pressures shape subjectivity is one of those concerns, as is Hollywood â€“ the economic and aesthetic monolith they think themselves through and against. These filmmakers also draw inspiration, at least initially, from the new cinema practices of European auteurs. These shared concerns and influences unite them, as does a discourse network. Their films, manifestos, and interviews circulate throughout the hemisphere and eventually make their way to Europe. Given these connections, we should begin to think about new cinema in the Americas as just that, new American cinema in the hemispheric sense. These seven filmmakers share orientations, anxieties, influences, and distribution networks that are unique to them. We can also see their success in creating a uniquely â€œAmericanâ€ cinema as European filmmakers and critics in the late 1960s â€œdiscoverâ€ them and their work. This event not only affirms the North-South flow of ideas, it also prompts us to capture the ways the new American cinema serves as a site where existing epistemological frames are put into question and redrawn.