DEFINING THIRD WORLD REVOLUTIONARY CINEMA
Three essays set the agenda for Third World political filmmaking: Rocha's "Aesthetics of Hunger" (1965), Espinosa's "For an Imperfect Cinema" (1969), and Solanas and Getino's "Third Cinema" manifesto (1969). The authors all subsequently reconsidered their ideas. Espinosa explained that he conceived "imperfection" not as clumsiness but as an acknowledgment of the filmmaker's political position (Julio Garcia Espinosa, "Meditations on Imperfect Cinema . . . Fifteen Years Later," Screen 26, nos. 3–4 [May–August 1985]: 94). Solanas explained that not all big productions were necessarily First Cinema, just as not all auteur-based films were necessarily Second Cinema. Third Cinema did, however, support anticolonialism and social change (quoted in "L'Influence du 'Troisième Cinéma' dans le monde," Revue tiers monde 20, no. 79 [July–September 1979]: 622). Writing later in the 1970s, Getino noted ruefully that "the force and cohesion of the popular movements in these countries—and in Argentina—were not as strong as we had imagined" (Octavio Getino, "Some Notes on the Concept of a 'Third Cinema,'" in Tim Barnard, ed., Argentine Cinema [Toronto: Nightwood, 1986], p. 107).
Most expansively, in a 1971 essay, "The Aesthetics of the Dream," Rocha defined three types of revolutionary art: that useful for immediate political action (e.g., The Hour of the Furnaces), that which opens up political discussion (e.g., most of Cinema Nôvo), and a revolutionary art based on the people's dreams, as reflected in magic and myth (quoted in Sylvie Pierre, Glauber Rocha [Paris: Cahiers du Cinéma, 1987], pp. 129–30). This art of the dream had been ignored by the traditional left, Rocha claimed, although he glimpsed it in the 1968 youth revolutions.
As the force of Third World cinema was waning, film scholars began to study the phenomenon extensively. Some took the position that there was an international Third Cinema, linking disparate countries and characterized by recurrent political themes and formal conventions. The most extensive argument for this view is set forth in Teshome Gabriel, Third Cinema in the Third World: The Aesthetics of Liberation (Ann Arbor, Michigan: UMI Research Press, 1982). A condensed statement of his position is "Towards a Critical Theory of Third World Films," in Jim Pines and Paul Willemen, eds., Questions of Third Cinema (London: British Film Institute, 1989), pp. 30–52. The view is criticized by Julianne Burton in "Marginal Cinemas and Mainstream Critical Theory," Screen 26, nos. 3–4 (May–August 1985): 2–21. Gabriel replies in "Colonialism and 'Law and Order' Criticism," Screen 27, nos. 3–4 (May–August 1986): 140–47.
MAY '68 AND CANNES: CURTAINS FOR THE FESTIVAL
In May 1968, strikes, marches, and demonstrations brought France to a standstill. Virtually every facet of business and government shut down. Three million workers were on strike. Meanwhile, the Cannes International Film Festival was scheduled to continue as usual. Soon, however, filmmakers pushed for the festival to shut down, in solidarity with the students and workers.
One of the most notable moments occurred at the start of a screening of Peppermint Frappé. Truffaut, Godard, the film's star Geraldine Chaplin, and the film's director Carlos Saura rushed onstage and grabbed the curtain to keep it from rising. "The whole thing was very funny," Roman Polanski recalled. "The curtain was huge, and there must have been a very powerful motor, because they were hanging off it like grapes."
The festival closed five days before it was scheduled to end, but Gilles Jacob, long-standing director of the festival credits the 1968 edition with establishing a new agenda. In 1969 Cannes established the "Directors Fortnight," a sidebar for major films not in competition. Soon after that, Jacob recalls, competition films were selected by the festival staff, not nominated by the countries that produced them. This put more power in the hands of the festival team and, indirectly, the international press, who took the responsibility of promoting films that might otherwise have been overlooked.
See Tobias Grey, "Flashback: Cannes 1968," Variety (8 May 2008). Available at http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117985372.html?categoryid=13&cs=1.
FILM STUDIES AND THE NEW FILM THEORY
The era this chapter surveys witnessed the enormous growth of academic film studies in Britain, Europe, and North America. The political movements of the late 1960s influenced many film courses; instructors and students often analyzed the ideological implications of mainstream Hollywood film and considered critical political films as "oppositional" cinema.
Along with these developments went major changes in film theory. Building on semiological ideas of the early 1960s (see "Notes and Queries," Chapter 20), film theorists in the wake of 1968 sought to explain how cinema functioned politically while providing pleasure. The newly radicalized editors of Cahiers du cinéma proposed a taxonomy that distinguished films wholly in the grip of dominant ideology from those that use political critique opportunistically (e.g., Z). The editors left a space for committed works, for modernist efforts, and for those mainstream films that could be read "symptomatically," as if they were "splitting under an internal tension" (see Jean-Luc Comolli and Paul Narboni, "Cinema/Ideology/Criticism," in Bill Nichols, ed., Movies and Methods, vol. 1 [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976], p. 27). Another early theoretical effort, drawing upon current psychoanalytic ideas, was Jean-Pierre Baudry's 1970 essay "Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus." Baudry suggested that the very technology of film—camera shutter, screen, light beam—manifested a bourgeois worldview.
Feminists also posed theoretical questions about film's role in promoting patriarchal values. Journals like Camera Obscura and frauen und film took as part of their task the elaboration of a feminist film theory. The most influential essay in this direction was Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (1975), which generated a vast range of comment. By the end of the 1970s, not only had film study established itself as a discipline, but women's cinema found an audience among feminists.
These and other important essays can be found in Nichols, ed., Movies and Methods, vol. 1 (cited above) and vol. 2 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985); Philip Rosen, ed., Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Theory Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986); Constance Penley, ed., Feminism and Film Theory (London: Routledge, 1988); and Nick Browne, ed., Cahiers du cinéma 1969–1972: The Politics of Representation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990). Historical overviews can be found in introductions to the above volumes, as well as in Christine Gledhill, "Recent Developments in Feminist Film Theory," in Mary Ann Doane, Patricia Mellencamp, and Linda Williams, eds., Re-Vision: Essays in Feminist Film Theory (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1984), pp. 18–48; and David Bordwell, Making Meaning: Inference and Rhetoric in the Interpretation of Cinema (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 43–104.