Third Cinema (Spanish: Tercer Cine) is a Latin American film movement that started in the 1960s–70s which decries neocolonialism, the capitalist system, and the Hollywood model of cinema as mere entertainment to make money. The term was coined in the manifesto Hacia un tercer cine (Toward a Third Cinema), written in the late 1960s by Argentine filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, members of the Grupo Cine Liberación and published in 1969 in the cinema journal Tricontinental by the OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America).
Solanas and Getino's manifesto considers 'First Cinema' to be the Hollywood production model that idealizes bourgeois values to a passive audience through escapist spectacle and individual characters. 'Second Cinema' is the European art film, which rejects Hollywood conventions but is centred on the individual expression of the auteur director. Third Cinema is meant to be non-commercialized, challenging Hollywood's model. Third Cinema rejects the view of cinema as a vehicle for personal expression, seeing the director instead as part of a collective; it appeals to the masses by presenting the truth and inspiring revolutionary activism. Solanas and Getino argue that traditional exhibition models also need to be avoided: the films should be screened clandestinely, both in order to avoid censorship and commercial networks, but also so that the viewer must take a risk to see them.
There are still some difficulties to clearly define what is considered "First Cinema" versus "Third Cinema". For example, Bollywood, one of the largest centres of film production in the world, can be viewed as resistance against "First Cinema" due to political, cultural and aesthetic differences, but at the same time it can also be said that Bollywood is a popular commercialized industry
There are four manifestos accredited to beginning the genre of Third Cinema: Glauber Rocha’s “Aesthetic of Hunger” (1965), Julio García Espinosa’s “For an Imperfect Cinema” (1969), “Problems of Form and Content in Revolutionary Cinema” (1976) by Jorge Sanjinés, and finally “Toward a Third Cinema” (1969) by Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino. Although all four define the broad and far reaching genre, Solanas and Getino's “Toward a Third Cinema” is well known for its political stance and outline of the genre.
"Toward a Third Cinema"
Explaining the neo-colonialist dilemma and the need for “a cinema of subversion” or “a revolutionary cinema”, “Toward a Third Cinema” begins by explaining the dilemma that the anti-imperialist film-maker is left with a paradoxical need to survive within as well as subvert “the System”.
“Third cinema is, in our opinion, the cinema that recognizes in that struggle the most gigantic cultural, scientific, and artistic manifestation of our time, the great possibility of constructing a liberated personality with each people as the starting point – in a word, the decolonization of culture.”
Solanas and Getino define the problem with 'the System' (the political and cultural authorities in place) as being one that reduces film to a commodity that exists to fill the needs of the film industry that creates them—mainly in the United States. This “spectator cinema” continues a lack of awareness within the masses of a difference between class interests or “that of the rulers and that of the nation”. To the authors, films of 'the System' do not function to change or move the culture forward; they function to maintain it.
Availability of technology
With the advancement of technology in film in the late 1960s (simplification of cameras and tape recorders, rapid film that can be shot in normal light, automatic light meters, improved audio/visual synchronization), Solanas and Getino argue that an alternative cinema is finally possible. The authors cite the Imperfect Cinema movement in Cuba, Cinegiornali liberi in Italy, Zengakuren documentaries in Japan as proof that it is already happening.
Urging the need to further politicize and experiment with the format of film—mainly the documentary—Solanas and Getino illustrate the somewhat obscure and non-universal steps that must be taken to make “revolutionary cinema”:
Paradoxically, Solanas and Getino continue to state that it is not enough to simply rebel against 'the System'. The manifesto uses Jean-Luc Godard and the French New Wave throughout as a formidable example of a group which failed to properly to subvert 'the System'. Referring to it as “second cinema” or “author's cinema”, the problem begins with the genre's attempt to exist parallel, be distributed by, and funded by 'the System'. Solanas and Getino quote Godard's self-description as being 'trapped inside the fortress' and refer to the metaphor throughout the manifesto.
Because of this paradox of subversion but need for distinctions between commodified rebellion and “the cinema of revolution”, Solanas and Getino recognize that film-makers must function like a guerilla unit, one that “cannot grow strong without military structures and command concepts.” The authors also recognize that the difficulties encountered by those attempting to make revolutionary cinema will stem mainly from its need to work as a synchronized unit. Claiming that the only solution to these difficulties is common awareness of the basics of interpersonal relationships, Solanas and Getino go further to state that “The myth of the irreplaceable technicians must be exploded.”
The guerilla-film unit requires that all members have general knowledge of the equipment being used and caution that any failure in a production will be ten-fold that of a first cinema production. This condition—based on the fact that monetary support will be slim and come mainly from the group itself—also requires that members of the guerilla-film unit be wary and maintain an amount of silence not custom to conventional film-making.
“The success of the work depends [on]…permanent wariness, a condition that is difficult to achieve in a situation in which apparently nothing is happening and the film-maker has been accustomed to telling all…because the bourgeoisie has trained him precisely on such a basis of prestige and promotion.”
Distribution and Showing
The manifesto concludes with an explanation for how to best distribute third cinema films. Using their own experience with La Hora de los Hornos (The Hour of the Furnaces), Solanas and Getino share that the most intellectually profitable showings were followed by group discussions. The following elements (Solanas and Getino even refer to them as mise en scène) that “reinforce the themes of the films, the climate of the showing, the ‘disinhibiting’ of the participants, and the dialogue”:
- Art pieces such as recorded music, poetry, sculpture, paintings, and posters
- A program director to chair the debate and present the film
- Refreshments such as wine or yerba mate
When distributed correctly, third cinema films will result in the audience members becoming what Solanas and Getino refer to as “man-actor-accomplices” as they become crucial to the film achieving its goal to transform society. It is only when the “man-actor-accomplice” responds to the film that third cinema becomes effective.
Third Cinema manifestos and theories evolved in the 1960s and 1970s as a response to the social, political, and economic realities in Latin American countries which were experiencing oppression from perceived Neo-colonial policies. In their manifesto, Solana and Getino describe Third Cinema as a cinematic movement and a dramatic alternative to First Cinema, which was produced in Hollywood, for the purpose of entertaining its audiences; and from Second Cinema that increased the author's liberty of expression. Fundamentally different, Third Cinema films sought to inspire revolution against class, racial and gender inequalities. Spectators were called upon to reflect on social injustices and the process by which their realities occurred, and to take action to transform their conditions. Even though Third Cinema films arose during revolutionary eras in Latin America and other countries, this filmmaking is still influential today. This style of filmmaking includes a radical form of production, distribution and exhibition that seeks to expose the living conditions of people at the grassroots level.
Purpose and Goals of Third Cinema Third Cinema seeks to expose the process by which oppression occurs; and to criticize those responsible for social inequality in a country or community. Some of the goals of Third Cinema are:
- Raise political consciousness in the viewer/spectator
- Expose historical, social, political and/or economic policies that have led to exploitive conditions for the nation
- Engage spectators in reflection which will inspire them to take revolutionary action and improve their conditions
- Create films that express the experiences of the masses of a particular region
- Produce and distribute films that are uncensored by oppressive entities
Production Due to their political nature, Third Cinema films were often censored and therefore, the production and distribution of these films were innovative. Films used documentary clips, news reels, photographs, video clips, interviews and/or statistics and in some cases, non-professional actors. These production elements are combined in an inventive manner to create a message that is specific to its local audience. The staff in production share all aspects of the production process by working collectively. In Third Cinema, for example, a Director can be the Cameraman, the Photographer or the Writer at different phases of the production. Since Third Cinema films were highly politicized, they often lacked the funding and support needed for production or distribution and instead sought funding outside government agencies or traditional financing opportunities available to commercial films. Other unique aspects of Third Cinema film production is the use of their local natural landscape for film shootings often in parts of the country not previously seen. This unique feature was augmented by highlighting the local history and culture of its nation.
Women in Third Cinema
Third Cinema's critique and resistance of Hollywood's imperialist “spectator” cinema also opened for differing representations of women in film. While feminist film movements in the United States in the 1970s critiqued the eurocentric and heteronormative sexism within the First-World, the intersection of heterosexism with racism and imperialism seemed to get little attention from mainstream film journals. Because of the reluctance of First-World feminists to acknowledge the importance of nationalism and geographic identity within differing struggles of women, the films made by the women of Third Cinema were usually seen as “burdened” from the Western feminist perspective by these identities.
“Notions of nation and race, along with community-based work, are implicitly dismissed as both too “specific” to qualify for the theoretical realm of “feminist theory” and as too “inclusive” in their concern for nation and race that they presumably “lose sight” of feminism.”
Along with the advancement and availability of technology, and the revolutionary tactics proposed by Third Cinema, third-worldist feminist film-makers began to tell their own stories. Because the genre proposed a non-homogeneous approach to cinema (one which allowed variation from region to region and intersection between fiction and documentary), differing stories of “womanhood” and women's position within revolutions could be told. Lebanese film director Heiny Srour commented in one interview:
“Those of us from the Third World have to reject the ideas of film narration based on the 19th century bourgeois novel with its commitment to harmony. Our societies have been too lacerated and fractured by colonial powers to fit into those neat scenarios.”
Notable films include Sarah Maldoror’s Sambizanga (Mozambique, 1972) which takes place in Angola where a woman awakens to “revolutionary consciousness” to the struggle of the ruling party the MPLA. In Heiny Srour’s documentary Saat al Tahrir (The Hour of Liberation) (Oman, 1973) followed women fighters during the revolution in Oman. Srour’s 1984 film Leila wal dhiab (Leila and the Wolves) (Lebanon) followed the role of women in the Palestine Liberation Movement. Helena Solberg Ladd’s Nicaragua Up From the Ashes (U.S. 1982) documents the role of women in the Sandinista revolution. Sara Gomez’s De cierta manera (One Way or Another) epitomizes Third Cinema’s involvement in the intersection of fiction and documentary as it gives a feminist critique of the Cuban revolution.
Third Cinema film-makers by Country
This is an incomplete list and still does not reflect the number of film-makers that have contributed to Third Cinema.
|Fernando Solanas||Grupo Cine Liberación|
|Octavio Getino||Grupo Cine Liberación|
|Raymundo Gleyzer||Cine de la Base|
|Glauber Rocha||Cinema Nôvo|
|the Brazilian Modernists|
|Nelson Pereira Dos Santos|
|Julio García Espinosa||Cuban revolutionary cinema|
|Tomás Gutiérrez Alea|
|Helena Solberg Ladd|
|Djibril Diop Mambéty||Ousmane Sembène|
Third Cinema Films
- Agarrando Pueblo, Louis Ospina and Carlos Mayolo (Colombia, 1978)
- Antonio das Mortes, Glauber Rocha (Brazil, 1969)Film Link
- Blood of the Condor, Jorge Sanjines (Bolivia, 1969)Film Link
- La Hora de Los Hornos, Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getina (Argentina, 1968)Film Link
- Mandabi, Ousmane Sembene (Senegal, 1969)Film Link
- Memorias del Subdesarrollo, Thomas Guiterrez Alea, (Cuba, 1968)Film Link
- México : La revolución congelada, Raymond Glevzer (Argentina, 1971)Film Link
- The Principle Enemy, Jorge Sanjines (Peru, 1974)
- Towers of Silence, Jamil Dehlavi (Pakistan, 1975)Film Link
- Vidas Secas, Nelson Perreira Dos Santos (Brazil, 1963)Film Link
- Political cinema
- Dictator novel, a Latin American contemporary literary genre
- Films depicting Latin American military dictatorships
- Wayne, Mike Political Film:The Dialectics of Third Cinema. Pluto Press, 2001.
- Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, "Towards a Third Cinema" in: Movies and Methods. An Anthology, edited by Bill Nichols, Berkeley: University of California Press 1976, pp 44–64
- All Third Cinema manifestos collected and translated into English in this book: New Latin American Cinema Vol. 1
- Octavio Getino. "Some notes on the concept of a 'Third Cinema'", in Martin, Michael T. New Latin American Cinema vol. 1. Wayne State University Press, Detroit 1997.] (in English)
- David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film History: An Introduction, 2nd edtn. (McGraw-Hill, 2003), 545.
- Tyrell, Heather. 2012. "Bollywood versus Hollywood: Battle of the Dream Factories". In The Globalization Reader, edited by Frank Lechner and John Boli. Fourth Edition ed., 372-378. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
- Stam, Robert (2003). "Beyond Third Cinema: The Aesthetics of Hybridity". In Gunerante, Anthony R.; Dissanayake, Wimal (eds.). Rethinking Third Cinema. London: Routledge. pp. 31–48.
- Guneratne, Anthony R. (2003). "Introduction: Rethinking Third Cinema". In Guneratne, Anthony R.; Dissanayake, Wimal (eds.). Rethinking Third Cinema. London: Routledge. pp. 1–28.
- Getino, Octavio; Solanas, Fernando (1969). "Hacia un Tercer Cine (Toward a Third Cinema)" (PDF). Tricontinental: 107–132. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
- Gabriel, Teshome Habte. "Third Cinema in the Third World: The Dynamics of Style and Ideology. Order No. 8001422 University of California, Los Angeles, 1979. Ann Arbor: ProQuest.
- Dodge, Kim. http://thirdcinema.blueskylimit.com, Web. 2007
- Shohat, Ella (2003). "Post-Third-Worldist culture". In Guneratne, Anthony R.; Dissanayake, Wimal (eds.). Rethinking Third Cinema. London: Routledge. pp. 51–78.
- "Laila and the Wolves + Ismael - Eye On Palestine". Eye On Palestine. Retrieved 2016-04-11.