Latin American Women's Documentary Cinema: Contexts, Processes, and Forms, 1975-1994

Latin American Women's Documentary Cinema: Contexts, Processes, and Forms, 1975-1994
Author: Cervera Ferrer, Lorena (January 2023)


From the 1970s, Latin American women began making documentary films with clear political intents. These films shed light on the precarious conditions that characterized women’s entry to the workforce and other labour struggles, on reproductive rights and women’s role in production and reproduction, and on the inevitable questioning of identity that results from migration and displacement. However, the historiography of Latin American cinema continues to ignore the legacy of these filmmakers. This thesis acknowledges and re-signifies women’s documentaries and reclaims their contributions to film history. Moreover, it provides a new lens through which to revisit the history of Latin American documentary while also adding to the scholarship on Latin American women’s filmmaking through both theoretical analysis and creative practice. In the written component, I propose three approximations to the study of Latin American women’s documentary cinema between 1975 and 1994. To do so, I have curated a selection of nine documentaries produced during these decades that illustrate some of the thematic interests, modes of authorship and production, and formal strategies and aesthetic devices employed by women filmmakers. Ultimately, I contend that this corpus of work was produced during a formative moment for women’s and feminist cinema. The analyses of these films have informed the making of the creative component. The short documentary Processing Images from Caracas traces the archive of activist, filmmaker, and photographer Franca Donda and the film collectives that she was part of, Cine Urgente and Grupo Feminista Miércoles. It also shows how Latin American women’s documentaries and other relevant materials that could make up an archive of women’s and feminist cinema are at the brink of disappearance and foregrounds the urgent need to create such an archive.

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