RESURRECTING A REVOLUTIONARY CINEMA The Hour of the Furnaces Jose Marti Che Guevara Louis Marcorelles Gianni Volpi

, Piero Arlorio, Goffredo Fo, Gianfranco Torri Jean-Luc Godard Fernando Solanas & Octavio Getino Vincent Canby Eduardo Galeano Robert Stam Octavio Getino Fernando Solanas Letter to Jose Dolores Poyo Message to the Tricontinental Solanas: Film as a Political Essay Cinema as a Gun: An Interview with Fernando Solanas 1

Jose Marti LETTER TO JOSE DOLORES POYO (5 December 1891) My Esteemed Friend and Compatriot: 2 13 18 I must ardently thank you for the decorous terms you used when speaking of me in El Yara on November 18th. The pen isn‘‘t as useful at any other tasks as it is for when men use it in order to speak about themselves directly or indirectly. But how will I leave without respectfully commenting upon such vividness, thus yearning on occasion to put what I have left of my heart next to that of the Key, to raise it before the fools of this world as proof of what, without foreign or tyrannical inuence, our republic can and should be, to say without fear that the kind of political work which needs to be founded, that which works for the good of us all, should be founded by all of us? I burn with the desire to see the Key with my eyes, and to respect the forms and methods that it has developed along with the local realities and necessities, and to show with my presence how those are combined, not in rhetorical aspiration, but in sagacious and urgent work, in the work that should inspire faith and affection to the country, in the work of forecast and order, of ample judgment and cordial action, all of whom have the will to challenge, the mentality to look ahead, and the hands to execute. Without grudges or exclusions. Without losing sight of truth and justice. Without tenacious antipathies. It is the hour of the furnaces, where the only thing visible should be the light. But how to go to the Key of my own will, like a solicitor or a seeker of his own fame in search of friends, when I should present myself as a simple and tender man, who trembles at the thought of his brothers falling under the deceptive and authoritarian politics of bad republics?! It is so sweet to obey the mandates of one‘‘s compatriots! It is my dream that every Cuban be an entirely free political man, as I understand the Cuban of the Key to be, and to employ themselves in acts according to their own judicious sympathy and independent selection, without the damaging outside inuence of some disguised interest. For even if one dies wishing to enter the sought-out house, what right does one have to present themselves, as an intrusive guest, where one was not been called? Better to pass through as a atterer, or a searcher, or meddler; than to deny a personal visit to the respect due to the independence and free will of the Cuban people. But put me in charge, and already you will see how Old my desire was to shake those founding hands. To You, whom correctly guessed my discouragement, and adjusts their noble and perspicacious mind to the needs of the nation, I present herein the testimony of my sincere affection.

Godard on Solanas, Solanas on Godard Towards a Third Cinema Argentine Epic The Tragedy Had Been a True Prophecy The Hour of the Furnaces and the Two Avant-Gardes Some Notes on the Concept of a "Third Cinema" Letter to the Spectators on the Occasion of the Revival

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4 April 2010 DocTruck 006 | Red Channels 001


In your service, Jose Marti ——Translated by Daniel Loría & Laura Schleifer

Che Guevara MESSAGE TO THE TRICONTINENTAL (April 1967) "Now is the time of the furnaces, and only light should be seen." Jose Marti Twenty-one years have already elapsed since the end of the last world conagration; numerous publications, in every possible language, celebrate this event, symbolized by the defeat of Japan. There is a climate of apparent optimism in many areas of the different camps into which the world is divided. Twenty-one years without a world war, in these times of maximum confrontations, of violent clashes and sudden changes, appears to be a very high gure. However, without analyzing the practical results of this peace (poverty, degradation, increasingly larger exploitation of enormous sectors of humanity) for which all of us have stated that we are willing to ght, we would do well to inquire if this peace is real. It is not the purpose of these notes to detail the different conicts of a local character that have been occurring since the surrender of Japan, neither do we intend to recount the numerous and increasing instances of civilian strife which have taken place during these years of apparent peace. It will be enough just to name, as an example against undue optimism, the wars of Korea and Vietnam. In the rst one, after years of savage warfare, the Northern part of the country was submerged in the most terrible devastation known in the annals of modern warfare: riddled with bombs; without factories, schools or hospitals; with absolutely no shelter for housing ten million inhabitants. Under the discredited ag of the United Nations, dozens of countries under the military leadership of the United States participated in this war with the massive intervention of U.S. soldiers and the use, as cannon fodder, of the South Korean population that was enrolled. On the other side, the army and the people of Korea and the volunteers from the Peoples‘‘ Republic of China were furnished with supplies and advice by the Soviet military apparatus. The U.S. tested all sort of weapons of destruction, excluding the thermo-nuclear type, but including, on a limited scale, bacteriological and chemical warfare. 2

In Vietnam, the patriotic forces of that country have carried on an almost uninterrupted war against three imperialist powers: Japan, whose might suffered an almost vertical collapse after the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; France, who recovered from that defeated country its Indo-China colonies and ignored the promises it had made in harder times; and the United States, in this last phase of the struggle. There were limited confrontations in every continent although in our America, for a long time, there were only incipient liberation struggles and military coups d‘‘etat until the Cuban revolution resounded the alert, signaling the importance of this region. This action attracted the wrath of the imperialists and Cuba was nally obliged to defend its coasts, rst in Playa Giron, and again during the Missile Crisis. This last incident could have unleashed a war of incalculable proportions if a US-Soviet clash had occurred over the Cuban question. But, evidently, the focal point of all contradictions is at present the territory of the peninsula of Indo-China and the adjacent areas. Laos and Vietnam are torn by a civil war which has ceased being such by the entry into the conict of U.S. imperialism with all its might, thus transforming the whole zone into a dangerous detonator ready at any moment to explode. In Vietnam the confrontation has assumed extremely acute character istics. It is not out intention, either, to chronicle this war. We shall simply remember and point out some milestones. In 1954, after the annihilating defeat of Dien-Bien-Phu, an agreement was signed at Geneva dividing the country into two separate zones; elections were to be held within a term of 18 months to determine who should govern Vietnam and how the country should be reunied. The U.S. did not sign this document and started maneuvering to substitute the emperor Bao-Dai, who was a French puppet, for a man more amiable to its purposes. This happened to be Ngo-DinDiem, whose tragic end——that of an orange squeezed dry by imperialism——is well known by all. During the months following the agreement, optimism reigned supreme in the camp of the popular forces. The last pockets of the anti-French resistance were dismantled in the South of the country and they awaited the fulllment of the Geneva agreements. But the patriots soon realized there would be no elections—— unless the United States felt itself capable of imposing its will in the polls, which was practically impossible even resorting to all its fraudulent methods. Once again the ghting broke out in the South and gradually acquired full intensity. At present the U.S. army has increased to over half a million invaders while the puppet forces decrease in number and, above all, have totally lost their combativeness. Almost two years ago the United States started bombing systematically the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, in yet another attempt to overcome the belligerence of the South and impose, from a position of strength, a meeting 3

at the conference table. At rst, the bombardments were more or less isolated occurrences and were adorned with the mask of reprisals for alleged provocations from the North. Later on, as they increased in intensity and regularity, they became one gigantic attack carried out by the air force of the United States, day after day, for the purpose of destroying all vestiges of civilization in the Northern zone of the country. This is an episode of the infamously notorious "escalation". The material aspirations of the Yankee world have been fullled to a great extent, regardless of the uninching defense of the Vietnamese anti-aircraft artillery, of the numerous planes shot down (over 1,700) and of the socialist countries aid in war supplies. There is a sad reality: Vietnam——a nation representing the aspirations, the hopes of a whole world of forgotten peoples——is tragically alone. This nation must endure the furious attacks of U.S. technology, with practically no possibility of reprisals in the South and only some of defense in the North——but always alone. The solidarity of all progressive forces of the world towards the people of Vietnam today is similar to the bitter irony of the plebeians coaxing on the gladiators in the Roman arena. It is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to his death or to victory. When we analyze the lonely situation of the Vietnamese people, we are overcome by anguish at this illogical moment of humanity. U.S. imperialism is guilty of aggression——its crimes are enormous and cover the whole world. We already know all that, gentlemen! But this guilt also applies to those who, when the time came for a denition, hesitated to make Vietnam an inviolable part of the socialist world; running, of course, the risks of a war on a global scale-but also forcing a decision upon imperialism. And the guilt also applies to those who maintain a war of abuse and snares——started quite some time ago by the representatives of the two greatest powers of the socialist camp. We must ask ourselves, seeking an honest answer: is Vietnam isolated, or is it not? Is it not maintaining a dangerous equilibrium between the two quarrelling powers? And what great people these are! What stoicism and courage! And what a lesson for the world is contained in this struggle! Not for a long time shall we be able to know if President Johnson ever seriously thought of bringing about some of the reforms needed by his people——to iron out the barbed class contradictions that grow each day with explosive power. The truth is that the improvements announced under the pompous title of the "Great Society" have dropped into the cesspool of Vietnam. The largest of all imperialist powers feels in its own guts the bleeding inicted by a poor and underdeveloped country; its fabulous economy feels the strain of the war effort. Murder is ceasing to be the most convenient business for its monopolies. Defensive weapons, and never in adequate number, is all these 4

extraordinary soldiers have——besides love for their homeland, their society, and unsurpassed courage. But imperialism is bogging down in Vietnam, is unable to nd a way out and desperately seeks one that will overcome with dignity this dangerous situation in which it now nds itself. Furthermore, the Four Points put forward by the North and the Five Points of the South now corner imperialism, making the confrontation even more decisive. Everything indicates that peace, this unstable peace which bears that name for the sole reason that no worldwide conagration has taken place, is again in danger of being destroyed by some irrevocable and unacceptable step taken by the United States. What role shall we, the exploited people of the world, play? The peoples of the three continents focus their attention on Vietnam and learn their lesson. Since imperialists blackmail humanity by threatening it with war, the wise reaction is not to fear war. The general tactics of the people should be to launch a constant and a rm attack in all fronts where the confrontation is taking place. In those places where this meager peace we have has been violated which is our duty? To liberate ourselves at any price. The world panorama is of great complexity. The struggle for liberation has not yet been undertaken by some countries of ancient Europe, sufciently developed to realize the contradictions of capitalism, but weak to such a degree that they are unable either to follow imperialism or even to start on its own road. Their contradictions will reach an explosive stage during the forthcoming years—— but their problems and, consequently, their own solutions are different from those of our dependent and economically underdeveloped countries. The fundamental eld of imperialist exploitation comprises the three underdeveloped continents: America, Asia, and Africa. Every country has also its own characteristics, but each continent, as a whole, also presents a certain unity. Our America is integrated by a group of more or less homogeneous countries and in most parts of its territory U.S. monopolist capitals maintain an absolute supremacy. Puppet governments or, in the best of cases, weak and fearful local rulers, are incapable of contradicting orders from their Yankee master. The United States has nearly reached the climax of its political and economic domination; it could hardly advance much more; any change in the situation could bring about a setback. Their policy is to maintain that which has already been conquered. The line of action, at the present time, is limited to the brutal use of force with the purpose of thwarting the liberation movements, no matter of what type they might happen to be. The slogan "we will not allow another Cuba" hides the possibility of perpetrating aggressions without fear of reprisal, such as the one carried out against the Dominican Republic or before that the massacre in Panama——and the clear warning stating that Yankee troops are ready to intervene anywhere in America where the ruling regime may be altered, thus endangering their interests. This policy enjoys an almost absolute impunity: the OAS is a suitable mask, in 5

spite of its unpopularity; the inefciency of the UN is ridiculous as well as tragic; the armies of all American countries are ready to intervene in order to smash their peoples. The International of Crime and Treason has in fact been organized. On the other hand, the autochthonous bourgeoisies have lost all their capacity to oppose imperialism——if they ever had it——and they have become the last card in the pack. There are no other alternatives; either a socialist revolution or a makebelieve revolution. Asia is a continent with many different characteristics. The struggle for liberation waged against a series of European colonial powers resulted in the establishment of more or less progressive governments, whose ulterior evolution have brought about, in some cases, the deepening of the primary objectives of national liberation and in others, a setback towards the adoption of pro-imperialist positions. From the economic point of view, the United States had very little to lose and much to gain from Asia. These changes beneted its interests; the struggle for the overthrow of other neocolonial powers and the penetration of new spheres of action in the economic eld is carried out sometimes directly, occasionally through Japan. But there are special political conditions, particularly in Indo-China, which create in Asia certain characteristics of capital importance and play a decisive role in the entire U.S. military strategy. The imperialists encircle China through South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, South Vietnam and Thailand at least. This dual situation, a strategic interest as important as the military encirclement of the Peoples‘‘ Republic of China and the penetration of these great markets——which they do not dominate yet——turns Asia into one of the most explosive points of the world today, in spite of its apparent stability outside of the Vietnamese war zone. The Middle East, though it geographically belongs to this continent, has its own contradictions and is actively in ferment; it is impossible to foretell how far this cold war between Israel, backed by the imperialists, and the progressive countries of that zone will go. This is just another one of the volcanoes threatening eruption in the world today. Africa offers an almost virgin territory to the neocolonial invasion. There have been changes which, to some extent, forced neocolonial powers to give up their former absolute prerogatives. But when these changes are carried out uninterruptedly, colonialism continues in the form of neocolonialism with similar effects as far as the economic situation is concerned. The United States had no colonies in this region but is now struggling to penetrate its partners‘‘ efs. It can be said that following the strategic plans of U.S. imperialism, Africa constitutes its long range reservoir; its present investments, though, are only important in the Union of South Africa and its penetration is beginning to be felt in the Congo, Nigeria and other countries where a violent 6

rivalry with other imperialist powers is beginning to take place (in a pacic manner up to the present time). So far it does not have there great interests to defend except its pretended right to intervene in every spot of the world where its monopolies detect huge prots or the existence of large reserves of raw materials. All this past history justies our concern regarding the possibilities of liberating the peoples within a long or a short period of time. If we stop to analyze Africa we shall observe that in the Portuguese colonies of Guinea, Mozambique and Angola the struggle is waged with relative intensity, with a concrete success in the rst one and with variable success in the other two. We still witness in the Congo the dispute between Lumumba‘‘s successors and the old accomplices of Tshombe, a dispute which at the present time seems to favor the latter: those who have "pacied" a large area of the country for their own benet——though the war is still latent. In Rhodesia we have a different problem: British imperialism used every means within its reach to place power in the hands of the white minority, who, at the present time, unlawfully holds it. The conict, from the British point of view, is absolutely unofcial; this Western power, with its habitual diplomatic cleverness——also called hypocrisy in the strict sense of the word——presents a facade of displeasure before the measures adopted by the government of Ian Smith. Its crafty attitude is supported by some Commonwealth countries that follow it, but is attacked by a large group of countries belonging to Black Africa, whether they are or not servile economic lackeys of British imperialism. Should the rebellious efforts of these patriots succeed and this movement receive the effective support of neighboring African nations, the situation in Rhodesia may become extremely explosive. But for the moment all these problems are being discussed in harmless organizations such as the UN, the Commonwealth and the OAU. The social and political evolution of Africa does not lead us to expect a continental revolution. The liberation struggle against the Portuguese should end victoriously, but Portugal does not mean anything in the imperialist eld. The confrontations of revolutionary importance are those which place at bay all the imperialist apparatus; this does not mean, however, that we should stop ghting for the liberation of the three Portuguese colonies and for the deepening of their revolutions. When the black masses of South Africa or Rhodesia start their authentic revolutionary struggle, a new era will dawn in Africa. Or when the impoverished masses of a nation rise up to rescue their right to a decent life from the hands of the ruling oligarchies. Up to now, army putsches follow one another; a group of ofcers succeeds another or substitute a ruler who no longer serves their caste interests or those of the powers who covertly manage him——but there are no great popular upheavals. 7

In the Congo these characteristics appeared briey, generated by the memory of Lumumba, but they have been losing strength in the last few months. In Asia, as we have seen, the situation is explosive. The points of friction are not only Vietnam and Laos, where there is ghting; such a point is also Cambodia, where at any time a direct U.S. aggression may start, Thailand, Malaya, and, of course, Indonesia, where we can not assume that the last word has been said, regardless of the annihilation of the Communist Party in that country when the reactionaries took over. And also, naturally, the Middle East. In Latin America the armed struggle is going on in Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela and Bolivia; the rst uprisings are cropping up in Brazil. There are also some resistance focuses which appear and then are extinguished. But almost all the countries of this continent are ripe for a type of struggle that, in order to achieve victory, can not be content with anything less than establishing a government of socialist tendencies. In this continent practically only one tongue is spoken (with the exception of Brazil, with whose people, those who speak Spanish can easily make themselves understood, owing to the great similarity of both languages). There is also such a great similarity between the classes in these countries, that they have attained identication among themselves of an international americano type, much more complete than in the other continents. Language, habits, religion, a common foreign master, unite them. The degree and the form of exploitation are similar for both the exploiters and the men they exploit in the majority of the countries of Our America. And rebellion is ripening swiftly in it. We may ask ourselves: how shall this rebellion ourish? What type will it be? We have maintained for quite some time now that, owing to the similarity of their characteristics, the struggle in Our America will achieve in due course, continental proportions. It shall be the scene of many great battles fought for the liberation of humanity. Within the frame of this struggle of continental scale, the battles which are now taking place are only episodes——but they have already furnished their martyrs, they shall gure in the history of Our America as having given their necessary blood in this last stage of the ght for the total freedom of man. These names will include Comandante Turcios Lima, padre Camilo Torres, Comandante Fabricio Ojeda, Comandantes Lobaton and Luis de la Puente Uceda, all outstanding gures in the revolutionary movements of Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru. But the active movement of the people creates its new leaders; Cesar Montes and Yon Sosa raise up their ag in Guatemala; Fabio Vazquez and Marulanda in Colombia; Douglas Bravo in the Western part of the country and Americo Martin in El Bachiller, both directing their respective Venezuelan fronts. New uprisings shall take place in these and other countries of Our America, as it has already happened in Bolivia, and they shall continue to grow in the midst of all the hardships inherent to this dangerous profession of being 8

modern revolutionaries. Many shall perish, victims of their errors, others shall fall in the touch battle that approaches; new ghters and new leaders shall appear in the warmth of the revolutionary struggle. The people shall create their warriors and leaders in the selective framework of the war itself——and Yankee agents of repression shall increase. Today there are military aids in all the countries where armed struggle is growing; the Peruvian army apparently carried out a successful action against the revolutionaries in that country, an army also trained and advised by the Yankees. But if the focuses of war grow with sufcient political and military insight, they shall become practically invincible and shall force the Yankees to send reinforcements. In Peru itself many new gures, practically unknown, are now reorganizing the guerrilla. Little by little, the obsolete weapons, which are sufcient for the repression of small armed bands, will be exchanged for modern armaments and the U.S. military aids will be substituted by actual ghters until, at a given moment, they are forced to send increasingly greater number of regular troops to ensure the relative stability of a government whose national puppet army is desintegrating before the impetuous attacks of the guerrillas. It is the road of Vietnam it is the road that should be followed by the people; it is the road that will be followed in Our America, with the advantage that the armed groups could create Coordinating Councils to embarrass the repressive forces of Yankee imperialism and accelerate the revolutionary triumph. America, a forgotten continent in the last liberation struggles, is now beginning to make itself heard through the Tricontinental and, in the voice of the vanguard of its peoples, the Cuban Revolution, will today have a task of much greater relevance: creating a Second or a Third Vietnam, or the Second and Third Vietnam of the world. We must bear in mind that imperialism is a world system, the last stage of capitalism——and it must be defeated in a world confrontation. The strategic end of this struggle should be the destruction of imperialism. Our share, the responsibility of the exploited and underdeveloped of the world is to eliminate the foundations of imperialism: our oppressed nations, from where they extract capitals, raw materials, technicians and cheap labor, and to which they export new capitals——instruments of domination——arms and all kinds of articles; thus submerging us in an absolute dependence. The fundamental element of this strategic end shall be the real liberation of all people, a liberation that will be brought about through armed struggle in most cases and which shall be, in Our America, almost indefectibly, a Socialist Revolution. While envisaging the destruction of imperialism, it is necessary to identify its head, which is no other than the United States of America. We must carry out a general task with the tactical purpose of getting the enemy out of its natural environment, forcing him to ght in regions where his own life and habits will clash with the existing reality. We must not underrate our adversary; the U.S. soldier has technical capacity and is backed by weapons 9

and resources of such magnitude that render him frightful. He lacks the essential ideologic motivation which his bitterest enemies of today——the Vietnamese soldiers——have in the highest degree. We will only be able to overcome that army by undermining their morale——and this is accomplished by defeating it and causing it repeated sufferings. But this brief outline of victories carries within itself the immense sacrice of the people, sacrices that should be demanded beginning today, in plain daylight, and which perhaps may be less painful than those we would have to endure if we constantly avoided battle in an attempt to have others pull our chestnuts out of the re. It is probable, of course, that the last liberated country shall accomplish this without an armed struggle and the sufferings of a long and cruel war against the imperialists——this they might avoid. But perhaps it will be impossible to avoid this struggle or its effects in a global conagration; the suffering would be the same, or perhaps even greater. We cannot foresee the future, but we should never give in to the defeatist temptation of being the vanguard of a nation which yearns for freedom, but abhors the struggle it entails and awaits its freedom as a crumb of victory. It is absolutely just to avoid all useless sacrices. Therefore, it is so important to clear up the real possibilities that dependent America may have of liberating itself through pacic means. For us, the solution to this question is quite clear: the present moment may or may not be the proper one for starting the struggle, but we cannot harbor any illusions, and we have no right to do so, that freedom can be obtained without ghting. And these battles shall not be mere street ghts with stones against tear-gas bombs, or of pacic general strikes; neither shall it be the battle of a furious people destroying in two or three days the repressive scaffolds of the ruling oligarchies; the struggle shall be long, harsh, and its front shall be in the guerrilla‘‘s refuge, in the cities, in the homes of the ghters——where the repressive forces shall go seeking easy victims among their families——in the massacred rural population, in the villages or cities destroyed by the bombardments of the enemy. They are pushing us into this struggle; there is no alternative: we must prepare it and we must decide to undertake it. The beginnings will not be easy; they shall be extremely difcult. All the oligarchies‘‘ powers of repression, all their capacity for brutality and demagoguery will be placed at the service of their cause. Our mission, in the rst hour, shall be to survive; later, we shall follow the perennial example of the guerrilla, carrying out armed propaganda (in the Vietnamese sense, that is, the bullets of propaganda, of the battles won or lost——but fought——against the enemy). The great lesson of the invincibility of the guerrillas taking root in the dispossessed masses. The galvanizing of the national spirit, the preparation for harder tasks, for resisting even more violent repressions. Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man 10

is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy. We must carry the war into every corner the enemy happens to carry it: to his home, to his centers of entertainment; a total war. It is necessary to prevent him from having a moment of peace, a quiet moment outside his barracks or even inside; we must attack him wherever he may be; make him feel like a cornered beast wherever he may move. Then his moral ber shall begin to decline. He will even become more beastly, but we shall notice how the signs of decadence begin to appear. And let us develop a true proletarian internationalism; with international proletarian armies; the ag under which we ght would be the sacred cause of redeeming humanity. To die under the ag of Vietnam, of Venezuela, of Guatemala, of Laos, of Guinea, of Colombia, of Bolivia, of Brazil——to name only a few scenes of today‘‘s armed struggle——would be equally glorious and desirable for an American, an Asian, an African, even a European. Each spilt drop of blood, in any country under whose ag one has not been born, is an experience passed on to those who survive, to be added later to the liberation struggle of his own country. And each nation liberated is a phase won in the battle for the liberation of one‘‘s own country. The time has come to settle our discrepancies and place everything at the service of our struggle. We all know great controversies rend the world now ghting for freedom; no one can hide it. We also know that they have reached such intensity and such bitterness that the possibility of dialogue and reconciliation seems extremely difcult, if not impossible. It is a useless task to search for means and ways to propitiate a dialogue which the hostile parties avoid. However, the enemy is there; it strikes every day, and threatens us with new blows and these blows will unite us, today, tomorrow, or the day after. Whoever understands this rst, and prepares for this necessary union, shall have the people‘‘s gratitude. Owing to the virulence and the intransigence with which each cause is defended, we, the dispossessed, cannot take sides for one form or the other of these discrepancies, even though sometimes we coincide with the contentions of one party or the other, or in a greater measure with those of one part more than with those of the other. In time of war, the expression of current differences constitutes a weakness; but at this stage it is an illusion to attempt to settle them by means of words. History shall erode them or shall give them their true meaning. In our struggling world every discrepancy regarding tactics, the methods of action for the attainment of limited objectives should be analyzed with due respect to another man‘‘s opinions. Regarding our great strategic objective, the total destruction of imperialism by armed struggle, we should be uncompromising. Let us sum up our hopes for victory: total destruction of imperialism by eliminating its rmest bulwark: the oppression exercized by the United States of 11

America. To carry out, as a tactical method, the peoples gradual liberation, one by one or in groups: driving the enemy into a difcult ght away from its own territory; dismantling all its sustenance bases, that is, its dependent territories. This means a long war. And, once more we repeat it, a cruel war. Let no one fool himself at the outstart and let no one hesitate to start out for fear of the consequences it may bring to his people. It is almost our sole hope for victory. We cannot elude the call of this hour. Vietnam is pointing it out with its endless lesson of heroism, its tragic and everyday lesson of struggle and death for the attainment of nal victory. There, the imperialist soldiers endure the discomforts of those who, used to enjoying the U.S. standard of living, have to live in a hostile land with the insecurity of being unable to move without being aware of walking on enemy territory: death to those who dare take a step out of their fortied encampment. The permanent hostility of the entire population. All this has internal repercussion in the United States; propitiates the resurgence of an element which is being minimized in spite of its vigor by all imperialist forces: class struggle even within its own territory. How close we could look into a bright future should two, three or many Vietnams ourish throughout the world with their share of deaths and their immense tragedies, their everyday heroism and their repeated blows against imperialism, impelled to disperse its forces under the sudden attack and the increasing hatred of all peoples of the world! And if we were all capable of uniting to make our blows stronger and infallible and so increase the effectiveness of all kinds of support given to the struggling people——how great and close would that future be! If we, in a small point of the world map, are able to fulll our duty and place at the disposal of this struggle whatever little of ourselves we are permitted to give: our lives, our sacrice, and if some day we have to breathe our last breath on any land, already ours, sprinkled with our blood let it be known that we have measured the scope of our actions and that we only consider ourselves elements in the great army of the proletariat but that we are proud of having learned from the Cuban Revolution, and from its maximum leader, the great lesson emanating from his attitude in this part of the world: "What do the dangers or the sacrices of a man or of a nation matter, when the destiny of humanity is at stake." Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism, and a battle hymn for the people‘‘s unity against the great enemy of mankind: the United States of America. Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this, our battle cry, may have reached some receptive ear and another hand may be extended to wield our weapons and other men be ready to intone the funeral dirge with the staccato singing of the machine-guns and new battle cries of war and victory.

Louis Marcorelles SOLANAS: FILM AS A POLITICAL ESSAY (March 1969) The political lm has its patent of nobility in the history of lm. In the forefront is Eisentsein (all his silent lms), then Leni Riefenstahl (The Triumph of the Will, 1934), and Frank Capra (Prelude to War, 1942). Dziga Vertov should also be mentioned, and to a lesser degree, King Vidor. The best works produced in this vein owe their particular quality to the cutting, whose principles had been laid down as early as the silent lm and were clearly dened by Soviet lmmakers, among them Eisenstein and Vertov. Neither Leni Riefenstahl, with Walter Ruttman as an intermediary, nor Frank Capra, backed by the analytical genius of William Hornbeck, ever really departed from these principles; at the very most, the considerable role played by dialogue beginning with Leni Riefenstahl may be noted: the weight of the words, the encompassing sound, recorded live, balance or correct pure action. In 1939, Frank Capra, in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, was to play with innite virtuosity on a whole range of sound effects, which by itself was an illustration of a certain conception of American democracy (the astonishing senators portrayed by Harry Carey, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, H.B. Warner, Porter Hall, and the young James Stewart). With the development of techniques of recording directly from life, that is to say, primarily since the advent of light synchronized camera, before the tape recorder and the mini-cassette were perfected, the sound track, for the rst time in the history of lm, proved to be, if not the equal of the image, at least possessed of potentialities that were almost equal. At the same time that it rediscovered its natural function——the one it had in the beginning——cutting and editing had to be redened. Gratuitous visual symbolism could not prevail exclusively, and sound, dialogue, and the general acoustics of the lm be considered as a complementary element, a mere useful tool. With guilty consciences relegated to the night of time, lmmakers could speak freely, confront ideology in its living state (Leacock) or its lived state (Perrault). Limiting oneself to the political lm, the intentionally political lm—— for every lm is political——it became possible to envisage, at the very outer limits of lm, the existence of an "essay,”” in every sense of that word, written directly for the screen, without literary or dramatic or plastic mediation. This is what Fernando Solanas, with the collaboration of Octavio Getino, has tried to do, and has succeeded in doing, in his monumental La hora de les hornos (The Hour of the Braziers).1 It is difcult to pin down Solanas’’ and Gettino’’s work precisely since they wanted it to be an "open”” work, to use the fashionable expression, which is here anything but a mere stylish phrase. The lm is addressed to militants, the situation changes, the lm identies itself with the need to act, and could never 13


be considered a nished product. This very notion of being "nished”” is totally alien to the lm, for history is never nished. At most once can try to observe the changes that are taking place. In its original version as Pesaro, in June, 1968, the lm lasted four hours and twenty minutes, being divided into three separate and distinct parts, lasting respectively 95, 120, and 45 minutes, the nal section being able to be expanded indenitely by documentation, letters, testimony gathered after each showing. The subtitle of the lm, "Notes and Testimonials Concerning Neo-colonialism, Violence, and Liberation,”” serves to indicate the overall plan. The rst part, the one which is best known in Europe and which wrongly tends to give a somewhat limited, if not distorted, idea of the work in toto, is called "Violence and Liberation.”” Essentially a tract, agitprop, to use the old Soviet term, a ying trapeze exercise, manipulation par excellence, its aim is to wake the Latin American spectator from his lethargy; it is addressed just as much to workers and peasants as it is to intellectuals. In thirteen "notes”” varying in length, Solanas analyzes one after the other the history, geography, and economy of the country, day-to-day violence (poorly paid workers, the constant presence of the police, the latifundia, disease), the port city (Buenos Aires), the oligarchy (the rural aristocracy and its dreams of grandeur, its nostalgia for the past, for Europe), the system (denunciation of the agrarian oligarchy and the industrial upper middle class), the political violence (Latin America everywhere the victim of coups d’’état), the neo-racism (inherited from colonialism and perpetuated by neo-colonialism), dependency (neo-colonial exploitation inseparable from underdevelopment, its logical consequence), the violence of the culture (the national concomitant of economic violence in a continent that is illiterate, the culture imported from Europe, outside of its natural context, merely serving to perpetuate oppression), the models (development of the preceding idea), the ideological war (everything perpetuates the culture based on European or American models, both for the young and for the "chosen few””), and nally, the choices (a shot of Che Guevara, dead at Camiri, which is held for ve minutes). The second part, the most masterful of the three, which was cut to pieces at the express wish of the lmmakers after the violent criticism it encountered in Europe on the part of all those who instantly identied Perón with Franco or Mussolini, is intended as an "Act for Liberation,”” and is in turn divided into two parts of unequal length, the rst, "A Chronicle of Peronism”” (1945-55), being the real detonator of the lm, and the second, "The Resistance”” (1955-66), which is more complex, being the logical conclusion of the rst, a new series of notes, thirteen of them to be found in the present modied version. Solanas, as opera buff and a musician himself, goes back to the style of the opening part of the lm, an overture, in almost the musical sense of the word: short phrases in large letters that are so many invitations to action. Dziga Vertov had also used the intercalated title to good advantage, combining the plastic effect with the dynamic effect, modifying the size of the letter when the lm’’s threat 14

or its passionate drive comes to the fore. Solanas, a partisan of the simple linear word, merely restores the chain of words as they are spoken, as will become even more evident later when, in the purest style of the animated lm, he puts phrases on the screen letter by letter, as if they were being written out by an invisible typewriter. Just after this introduction, "a few lights go on in the house,”” while Solanas’’ voice, which continues to be heard from the screen which has now gone black, invites the audience to consider the lm as an act, and to consider themselves as protagonists of the action. A calico banner proclaims in enormous letters: EVERY SPECTATOR IS A COWARD OR A TRAITOR (FRANTZ FANON). At the end of his discourse in the lm, a minute of silence is observed "in honor of Che Guevara and all the patriots who have falled in the struggle for the liberation of Latin America.”” After this minute of silence, the projection begins again, and the marvelous documents on the overthrow of Peronism explode——there is no other word——on the screen. From Perón’’s takeover on October 17, 1945, to his self-exile ten years later under pressure from the army, a page of history lmed live comes to life again before our eyes, brilliantly illustrated by impressive newsreels which are the source of the profound discomfort, if not of the often unfair attacks, of European spectators who have seen the complete version. I say unfair, because, without passing judgment on the content (I do not have enough information to do so), it seemed quite obvious to me that Solanas and Getino were in no way asking us to commune with the ecstatic mass of descamisados ("shirtless ones””) swarming around their leader, but rather were presenting evidence, as they themselves stated, of the rst appearance on the stage of history of the Argentinian masses as masses. The whole lm hinges upon this, and becomes probably the greatest historical lm ever made. The fact that it survives being cut into ribbons, plus the reection that follows (for the tone of the lm, after this shocking opening, will change completely, turning more and more toward active meditation, patient, implacable explanation) is sufcient proof of Solanas’’ talent. From this ood of shocking images, images which this time are not manipulated but crude, with both the sound and the picture lling the theatre to the point of crushing the spectator, we shall choose to remember, even more than the embarrassing passage in which Evita Perón speaks to the crowd with her usual fervor of a cheap plaster Madonna, the scene in which the army, on June 16, 1955, bombards the government palace and the center of the city while the crowd lls the streets——images of naked power, of stark repression brought to bear against what obviously was the will of the people. On August 31, 1955, Perón speaks to the crowd gathered in the Plaza de Mayo for the last time and announces his intention of remaining in power. A few days later the army deposes him, and immediately thereafter the bourgeoisie and the clergy joyfully parade through Buenos Aires. All trace of Peronism is erased: books are bured. There is no doubt that Solanas here obtains the shock effect that can 15

set off a whole chain of thought about the need to put Peronism in proper perspective, about the overly facile identication of Peronism with European Fascism and therefore with absolute evil. In Cuba, at least, justice has been dealth these simplistic views in various theoretical writings. The masses loyal to Perón have undergone their rst baptism of re, their rst act of awareness. From this point on the struggle will be carried on by the labor unions and the unemployed. But it would be unfair to ask Solanas and Getino to be absolutely objective, to act as if they were observing events from Sirius. They are playing their cards straight when they cruelly stigmatize the speeches of Communist and Progressive Democrat deputies allied in the Democratic Union, which in 1945 called upon the people to denounce Peronist Nazi-Fascism, at the time of the sacred alliance among the Allies of the World War II, the forerunner of what was later to become peaceful coexistence. The second part, "Resistance,”” in thirteen notes and testimonials, logically develops the forceful main theme of the opening section, the value of Peronism as the masses’’ rst experience, and illustrates by concerte examples the day-to-day struggle by members of the movement with a totally new class consciousness. We thus follow the evolution of Peronism between 1955, the date when Perón fell, and 1966, the date when La hora de los hornos was lmed. One after the other, labor leaders, students, writers, journalists bear witness to the need for political commitment, which as no sense unless mediated by the positive side of Peronism. At work in the factories, men and women militants describe the battle they are waging, the strikes, the occupation of factories, the relations with the power structure. The myth of "spontaneity”” suddenly rears its head, a spontaneity that has allowed the disoriented Peronist masses to survive, to nd other immediate solutions in order to continue the ght. This spontaneity is no longer enough. The last note, an introduction to the debate, serves as a transition to the third section, "Violence and Liberation.”” We are bludgeoned with the most brutal images of the lm in the space of a few minutes: Angel Taborda, whom we have previously seen ghting labor’’s battles, is beaten by policemen in civilian clothes, and dragged through the dust unconscious; the great strike of Tucumán is accompanied by the chant "Father, where is God?”” A leader of the Peronist youth group presents the alternative: from now on military action is called for, since political action is of no use in a democracy that does not exist. The house lights go on, and a discussion period with the audience begins. The third and last part, "Violence and Liberation,”” is shorter, more subversive, more committed——if that is possible. An old militant from Patagonia describes the oppression Argentinians once endured at the hands of the English colonizers. A militant’’s rst letter is read. At what is perhaps a crucial moment in the lm, Julio Troxler, a militant labor union ofcial who has gone underground, explains how he once escaped summary execution when Perón fell, how he was caught and tortured, why he continues to ght. We had read these things, but 16

we had never seen and heard them simultaneously. A second letter speaks of the political commitment of the intellectual. Just as, among other changes made in the lm after Pesaro, the second section introduced discussion between three students, the written testimonial of a priest who is an apostle of revolutionary violence is evoked a little later. The voices of the two lmmakers alternate. Solanas is more grandiloquent and Getino more passionate. Solanas stresses the need for revolutionary praxis, a term that has come more to the fore since Pesaro. Then there is another letter: "Latin America will be the Vietnam of the next ten years.”” Peaceful coexistence is impossible; the struggle must be begun here and now. The lm ends in a lyrical nightmare, with the ever-present police and violence which have lent their rhythm to the whole lm, in a song called "Violence and Liberation,”” with music and words by Solanas, calling for armed struggle. Will people talk of a madman? Either La hora de los hornos is an aberration, an hallucination of Latin American intellectuals, or it is a deliberate revolutionary act on the part of its makers. I don’’t know what the outcome of the struggle will be on the battleeld. In the theatre, there is a revolution: we cannot remain neutral, we are forced to react, to project ourselves into a precise problem, to which we cannot begin to respond unless we make an almost scientic——or structural, if you will-analysis of the lm, and I have only sketched the bare outlines of such an analysis. From today on, however, the history of Argentina, because of this conjunction of objective eyewitness accounts, newsreels, interviews made in the heat of battle, and of the subjectivity of two committed lmmakers, speaking to us live, in dialogue or written words, is no longer——for me at least, and I believe this will be true of every spectator who feels somewhat responsible——the unknown factor described in history texts. If Solanas’’ lm were not sufcient proof, his responsibility would also reside in this effort of his to restructure his work with the passage of time, on the basis of the experience he has acquired from contact with other since the lm was rst shown. The somewhat crude presentation of Peronism has taken on nuances; a new introduction to the second section will perhaps some day come oru way if circumstances permit. A "work in progress”” if ever there was one, the lm intersects other experiences which are perhaps less militant but no less political, such as Fernand Dansereau’’s Saint Jerome in Canada and other efforts in France. Its dialectic is based on living and lived witness, which is the incarnation of ideology. A simple intermediary medium, it solves nothing. It shows the dialectical movement of a given situation. An analysis in depth would distinguish between what was contributed by the live lming and more classical means, such as music, which dominate this lyrical lms; it would contrast sequences lmed live with sequences which are often remarkable montages based on the music. Without exaggerating its meaning, La hora de los hornos could be dened as a succession of themes and variations on revolution: the maximum commitment of the artist allies itself with the most subtle sense of balance. 17

Despite doddering, senile criticism, it is important that a work that forces us to redene our relationship to lm be distributed as widely as possible. ——Translated by Helen R. Lane 1. The literal meaning in English of La hora de los hornos is The Hour of the Braziers. It refers to the braziers lighted by the Indians seen by the rst European navigators along the Latin American coast (they were also found along Cape Horn). The expression appears in a sentence by José Martí, which Che Guevara cited: "It is the Hour of the Braziers, and all that need be seen is their light.””

country, the lm is now being distributed clandestinely (ironically, in Eastman Kodak Super-8 and sound) to student, labor and political groups in Argentina. The following interview originally appeared, in a somewhat longer version, in the Italian lm journal, Ombre Rosse, and was conducted by Gianni Volpi, Piero Arlorio, Goffredo Fo, Gianfranco Torri. Translation by Rebecca Douglass. Special assistance by Ruth McCormick. *The title refers to the braziers lighted by the Indians seen by the rst European navigators along the Latin American cost. The expression appears in a sentence by the 19th Century Cubuan patriot, Jose Marti, which Che Guevara cited: "It is the Hour of the Braziers, and all that need be seen is their light.”” THE HISTORIC MOMENT

Gianni Volpi, Piero Arlorio, Goffredo Fo, Gianfranco Torri CINEMA AS A GUN: AN INTERVIEW WITH FERNANDO SOLANAS (April 1969) The 1968 Pesaro (Italy) lm festival featured the rst screening of La hora de los hornos (The Hour of the Furnaces)*, a political lm essay on the Peron regime in Argentina and that country’’s struggle for national liberation. The lm had been made clandestinely over a period of two years in which its makers, Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, traveled across Argentina lming over 180 hours of interviews with intellectuals, labor leaders, workers, etc., most of the time using only a non-synchronous, 16mm spring-wound Bolex. Vast amounts of newsreel footage documenting Peron’’s rise to power and eventual military overthrow were also gathered. The result is a staggeringly four and a half hour, three part presentation, throughout which the audience is occasionally engaged in direct debate with political commentators on the stage. The rst part of the lm, "Neocolonialism and Violence”” (95 mins.), is a historical, geographic and economic analysis of Argentina, separated into thirteen ‘‘notes’’: the daily violence, neo-racism, colonial exploitation, the ideological war, etc. The second part, "An Act for Liberation”” (120 mins.), consists of two sections. The rst consists of newsreels which comprise "A Chronicle of Peronism (1954-1955),”” after which the house lights go on, leaets are passed among the audience, a huge banner proclaims "Every spectator is a coward or a traitor (Frantz Fanon),”” and a voice from the now dark screen invites the audience to consider the lm as an act and to consider themselves as protagonists of the action. After a discussion, the lm resumes with the second section, "Crhonicle of the Resistance,”” which documents, through interviews and critical analyses, the battle for liberation from 1955 to present. The third part, "Violence and Liberation”” (45 mins.), is a study of violence as a necessary means of liberation, and consists of interviews, testimonials, letters, etc. Solanas and Getino consider this part of an "open work”” to which they plan to add new sequences. Besides its screening at the Pesaro festival, La hora de los hornos has been screened in several other Italian cities including Milan and Turin, as well as in Paris. Bannned in its own 18


What were your fundamental motivations in making this lm?

A: To be brief, I will mention only the fundamental reasons that were the basis of La hora de los hornos. The lm, most of all, derived from the need of Octavio Getino and myself to clarify our ideas, our ideology on the problem of national liberation. At the end of 1965 we found ourselves dragged into the crises of the traditional left. That is, the imperious necessity for the militant intelligentsia to root itself in Argentine reality and to contribute to the process of the internal liberation of the movement of the masses. It involved the necessity to bridge, with revolutionary actions, the old dichotomy between intellectuals and the workers. It was a moment of research, an almost desperate one, which was necessary because of the split from the old Marxist left, a petit bourgeois, reformist left, and above all an ineffectual element with neither the real will to power nor ties with the workers’’ movement. The left that exemplies itself on the level of the grotesque can be seen in the history of the Argentine Communist Party——a Stalinist party, as are few, with a long history of betrayals of the working class and one that never has succeeded in understanding the phenomenon of a neo-colonized country or its process of liberation from the colonizing metropolis and its native allies. It limited itself to mechanically transferring the fundamental theories of Marxism——that were born of historical experiences and classes of other countries, from different economic conditions——and not neo-colonial. On the other hand, her loyalty to the PCU’’s [Russian Community Party –– ed.] made her postpone the problem of national liberation and the necessity for armed struggle, in favor of the interests and development of the USSR as a world power. The real aim of the seizure of power was disregarded when the theses of the 20th Congress were accepted, according to which Argentina would be able to progress peacefully toward socialism. In fact, this meant a betrayal of the masses and the workers’’ movements. Thus, as the expression of a Latin American revolutionary left which is trying to organize itself, we have been forced to go back to discussing the 19

viability of the intellectual in the process of liberation. What our lm involved, on one hand, was personal necessity, for which the lm was an expression of our ideological research and, on the other hand, an expression of the necessity to establish a connection with the movement of the masses and to contribute concretely, as intellectuals, to the process of liberation. This involved the necessity to bridge the dichotomy between the intellectual operative in the eld of culture and the militant revolutionary. THE CINEMATIC ROOTS Q: What was your previous experience in the cinema?

A: As regards our cinematic roots, we had tried to make certain lms within the traditional structures of the system but, for different reasons, met with disappointing results. Since we were new and inexperienced and had not made a lm before, we were deprived of ofcial support and nancial means. Also there was little hope for a maximum liberty of expression. Certain projects such as shorts on very specic subjects——in particular one with the provisional title Los Que Madan which touched on the theme of power in a mass movement——were not accepted by the ofcial commission which approves nancing. Therefore we decided to face the facts and not to lose any more time. We started by creating a structure of real economic power, in the process destroying a series of myths that subsist around the traditional concept of the lmmaker, his crew, a producer and the capital. We began a production company of documentary, industrial and publicity lms which had two advantages: rst, it permitted us to be our own producers and, second, we could adapt our working methods as required by the projected work. We had, among other things, to take upon ourselves, along with a few others, the functions of an entire crew. In Argentina the traditional crew numbers no less than twenty people. It was thus necessary for us to possess the technical skills in all aspects of lm production. Since we were not able to hire many people, I, Getino, and a few others made up the whole crew——Getino worked on the sound, the script, the production and the editing, and I on the editing, the photography and the production. AN IDEOLOGICAL-POLITICAL ARGUMENT Our attempt to realize the lm with this independence from Argentine economic conditions was signicant in breaking the structure of colonialism. In cinematic terms, it meant breaking with foreign models——the model of the perfect work, of the "great cinema”” almost Viscontian, Bergmanian, American, of the new waves and cinematic models tied to the novel, to the story, to the theater. We started to discuss the cinema as a tool of expression, arriving at the awareness that cinema is a tool for communication of knowledge, and we decided to use it 20

in that sense. It was necessary for us to make an ideological-political lm. The problem was considerably difcult since there weren’’t any real precedents, at least we didn’’t know of any (very little documentary lm gets to Argentina). We also wanted to break down the pejorative connotation of an ideological-political cinema since it was synonymous with the concept of colonized intellectuality, of a cinema pamphlet, of a political discourse in which the lm depended on the expressive possibility of intellectually levels. It was a cinema of shit in ultimate terms. On this point we were very much inuenced by our knowledge of the thinking of Frantz Fanon and we were conscious that the extent of colonialization in our country was very great. From this came our decision to make a cinema discussion, a cinema of consciousness, a cinema of ideological and political arguments, a cinema of ideas to replace an old cinema of sentiments, of characters. And so we put ourselves to work with these hypotheses and it was a process of discoveries, of continual clarications as one went ahead. The great conict with which we were confronted was intrinsic to the cinemas as a medium. The written argument, for example, permits the writer to peruse the theme according to the necessity. The reader can approach the book as he wishes; if there is an idea, a thought that interests him, he can stop on a page and continue the next day. Not with the cinema because the machine operates non-stop and if the spectator hasn’’t understood, he’’s lost. And this is a great limitation because our theme was quite vast, mainly because there weren’’t any works as precedents. It is possible that now in Argentina there is developing a cinema of ideological argument besides La hora deo los hornos and this somewhat facilitates the task and is, I think, the major merit of our lm’’s intentions. Our lm, however was a rst and great fresco on a situation, the initial work along the way of a very great discourse. The contradiction between an enormous theme and the economic and temporal limitations of our situation, and the limitations of our ideology and awareness in relation to the enormity of the subject presented a formidable task but the contradiction was eventually resolved. We had no pretensions to make a perfect work, one according to the concept of a work of art in other countries, such as in Europe, rather it was an ideal desire to renew a historical process of liberation through the lm. The decisive problem was therefore that of the lm’’s effectiveness, its usefulness in the process of liberation (it is necessary to keep well in mind for whom we made it and in view of what; the important moment was the working moment of the lm). In this sense, a precedent existed. We had attended a series of private screenings of Cuban lms and, during these clandestine experiences, we realized that the important thing was not the lm itself but that which the lm provoked. There was a great need among the people to clarify the immediate political problem, the ideological problems and certain lms served to stimulate extensive discussions and to provoke questions from the people on the international problems, and the problem of liberation, etc. From this was born the structure of our lm as an open work, designed to 21

stimulate discussion. We hoped that the limitations of our lm——in terms of exposition of an immediate theme——could be overcome by the audience’’s ability to complete, develop, criticize and penetrate the themes, to depart from that which we had made concrete. The lm was designed as a detonator, an element which would provoke a penetration of the themes concerned. We maintain that an art of the masses should avoid making the audience feel marginal to the experience but rather a participant, and encourage responsibility and conscience. A DEFINITION To recapitulate, I could say that our efforts were to realize a decolonizing lm, a lm of disruption as compared to the traditional values of American and European cinema; it would not have been a decolonized lm if it didn’’t decolonize its language. A cinema of class: a cinema that chose its public and not a cinema of cultural co-existence with a generalized public. A cinema outside the system, with a specic intention. A cinema of liberation and for the liberation, an historic cinema of political-ideoogical argument. A cinema of profound analysis. A cinema which is very violent not only because it deals with the themes of reactionary violence and revolutionary violence, but because it is also designed for its expression. A cinema which could provide for our liberation on expressive grounds as a lm fundamentally of research on the basis of language and expression. It is an intense cinema like an instrument of battle, of concrete struggle. Cinema like a gun, a guerrilla lm, a lm of and for the masses. An historic lm although when we consider that it is a lm of the masses in this particular period in which we live, it seems to operate in a rather small dimension. Its limitation in not being seen by great masses is redeemed by its intesive effect on small groups. Because the lm is open, inclusive, it must complete itself in the spectator. Fundamentally this lm is valid in as much as it effects a connection between the mass audience and the masses as protagonist in the lm’’s story——the audience becomes actor and protagonist of the story and the lm can jump from the audience to the screen and vice versa. On the other hand, it isn’’t a cinema of expression or a cinema of communication but more of an attempt at cinema-action, a cinema for action, incorporating the audience which becomes actor and protagonist. EXPERIENCES Q: If it has already been screened for the militants and to whom it is addressed, what type of reactions have there been? A: It is evident that the development of a revolutionary cinema in a country not yet free is a fairly new hypothesis. Certain critics confronted by a cinema of class, of revolution, of contestation in a country not freed, judge it on the basis of precedents that they know: Eisenstein, even Santiago Alvarez. But there is a 22

difference in situation——Eisenstein counted on Soviet power, and this is also true of Santiago Alvarez. The revolutionary cinema that is made in Latin America is found on the periphery of the system. It is a great adventure just to make it, it is a revolutionary political act and it is a great victory to be able to nish the lm without the government conscating the negative. Whether the lm would be good or not is of secondary importance, the rst is to nish it in liberty and get it shown. This order of priorities should be very clear. It is evident that the hypothesis of a revolutionary class-oriented cinema, being new and untried, involves errors and uncertainties and it is only in conjunction with the experience that we can judge the effectiveness of our efforts and in what ways we can improve our effectiveness. I contend that revolution is not made with books and lms, they are not cannons. But for those militant revolutionaries who work in the eld of culture, they can relate to the movement of the masses, to help necessitate the process of liberation by the the elaboration and diffusion of revolutionary ideology. In Latin America this means an ideology of class decolonialization and, in concrete political terms, the strategy of the armed struggle for the takeover of political power. We nished the lm about six months ago, though we were forced to nish it outside of Argentina. Since then we have discovered that it is the distribution of a revolutionary cinema that offers the greatest difculty and requires the greatest efforts. Thus, to work with political lms, organization, mainly political, is required rst of all. While the effects of our lm have been few, in reality, they have been few for reasons other than problems of distribution. THE TWO CULTURES We are struggling in our country to legalize our culture which nds its major expression in the struggle of the masses, of its cultural avant-garde that pregures a future revolutionary culture, and this requires an attempt to legalize it so as to publicly defend our ideology. This is necessary because there are two legalities, as if one could speak of two cinemas that are expressions of two cultures. We are living in a situation in which the class struggle between a minority, supported by an external force of oppression (imperialism) against the populace, reproduces itself at the level of superstructure, which consists of an ofcial, dominating culture——our native bourgeois culture allied with the culture of the oppressor——and a culture that surges from the people and is elaborated by concerend revolutionary intellects. It is, therefore, a war between the two cultures——one that enjoys all the ofcial advantages, the means of distribution, and the other that must invent its possibilities of development. But we are struggling for the legality of our lm and the rst thing that we will do will be to send the lm to the commission of censorship for its approval for public distribution. This may seem grotesque but it means demonstrating publicly that we aren’’t hiding our ideas. This revolutionary action of making a lm of liberation was undertaken with the intention that it would be distributed in the 23

widest manner possible and its authors assume complete responsibility for it. On the other hand, and this is the most important thing, we maintain that any actions against us will only serve to clarify and dene the situation——i.e., prohibition of the lm will explain eloquently that there is not a single culture and that there is no possibility for either cultural co-existence or a dialogue. And despite all the potential of our lm at the level of student political action, revolutionary union organizations present possibilities for distribution of the lm if it is, and it will be certainly, prohibited by the public authorities. The screenings we have had have been truly remarkable; it was as if during the reign of fascism in Italy a lm had been made on the question of resistance and had been shown to a group of militants. I have heard of a projection in Venezuela where the impact of the lm was fairly great. Friends of mine in attendance told me that after the projection at the national cinematheque, part of the audience left demonstrating and singing the International. A few hours later the lm was prohibited by the Ministry of the Interior. We say that the lm lives in those existing in a neo-colonial situation, inspiring them in their political and ideological efforts. THE IDEAL Q: The screening lasts quite a long time. Was the lm conceived in this manner?

THE INVENTION AT THE SERVICE OF THE IDEA Q: In your lm, besides rigorous political discussion, there are sequences of fable-like narrative, for example the sequence in the cemetery with the mausoleums, the statues and the song on the death of the bourgeoisie. What function do these sequences have in a discussion which is for the most part political, in a rigorous, dry, immediate manner? A: The rst part of the lm tells the militant facts he knows well enough—— the oligarchy, the system, the daily violence. It was a prologue which established the bases of an objective reality and which allowed, in the second and third parts, the development of the argument and analysis of the experiences of the concrete struggle. This avoided the problem of repeating things 100 times: "the oligarchy is……" We preferred to make an idelogical-political argument on the level of imaginative invention. In fact the lm, taking advantage of certain types of editing, could have been a discussion much more extensive than we had spoken for an hour and a half. At any rate, we would not have succeeded in elaborating on that which the existing literature on the subject already says. Only certain sequences, such as that on pedagogical colonization, the cultural violence, are original or little discussed. Therefore the lm is born of our presuppositions of the necessity to rediscover the situation of the daily violence and neo-colonialism in which we are immersed. The rst part proposes to describe the neo-colonial situation to make this violence felt, to move the spectator from a passive stand. In a certain sense it is a lm of provocation, to immerse him within history and pass to the moment of reection, which is in the second part. There are sequences like those which you mention which are absolutely free, almost narrative, such as the sequence of the prostitute, the funeral, or certain interviews, that with the writer and many others. I believe that they explain much better than simpy relating facts. Ours was an attempt to create an argument in the terms of cinema. Our work in the future will be to develop a cinematic argument which will always be more autonomous on the grounds of imagination and in which every frame, every scene in itself, and in its counterpoint with the sound, etc., will arrive at an expressive synthesis in such a way as to clearly explain a thought rather than a sentiment. In fact I think that we are still in the phase of pre-cinema as language. It is necessary that every frame, every scene develop the clarity of a written word and it is necessary to have a montage of ideas and thoughts. Some of these things we have tried and they are perhaps more indicative of future developments than veried results. Q: That is a cinema of invention at the service of the idea?

A: The lm is four hours long, it was supposed to last eight. Many things are missing, for example in the whole second part we couldn’’t develop the critical analysis——nationalism of the right and non-revolutionary left. The lm is the result of that which we hav ebeen able to do, not the ideal concept. It has also been modied in the last months. The rst print we had prepared just for the Pesaro festival. Many seuquences are missing——that on the student movement, on the enlightened neo-colonial bourgeoisie, expressed in the politics of Frondizi, the development of the use of violence in a full continental contest, the international situation, etc. THE PRACTICAL FUNCTION If the lm lasts four hours, it isn’’t entirely projected because the discussions last from four to ve hours and are led by a political militant. This emphasizes that the discussion is to be important; it actualizes the discussion, let us say, in an emotionally charged situation that permits you to objectivize a fairly large reality that in Latin America is not often analyzed. Having the militant lead the discussions assists the audience by clarifying and providing a total vision of the political phenomenon. It succeeds in making them forget the contingent and the immediate so as to rediscover a new dimension.

A. It is fundemental. We will be effective as revolutionary intellectuals to the extent that we are successful in expressive our ideology as cineastes, if we have the capacity to invent a cinematic expression which will be inventive and workable. 25


This seems to me to be the most fundemental thing. THE LATIN AMERICAN CINEMA Q: What are your feelings about Latin American cinema? Which lms have a prospective value, either of the cinema made within the system and therefore with possibility of limited or indirect political action, or of a marginal cinema with a well dened public and of major political potential? A: My rst problem is that I haven’’t seen much Latin American cinema because the Latin American countries are not opened up, and cultural communication is scarce. I’’m not speaking of commercial cinema which has other problems: spectacular cinema, cinema of violence, of sex, of cause and effect, of terror, in imitation of their North American models and which are shown to a mass audience. I am speaking rather of a cinema of cultural accord. Let us distinguish rst of all, in Argentina, between a cinema within the system and one outside the system, such as ours, which is in the course of development. Within the system there exists a cinema that historically has had a great value for 10 or 15 years in this region. It is the expression of a cinema of inquietude based on the social reality, a concern with important cultural problems which has developed a cinema of bourgeois-reformist expression, let us say almost social democratic. This cinema, on the ideological level, doesn’’t ever go beyond criticism of underdevelopment and the injustice of the system. It is the cinema of the Establishment left. But, more than a critical cinema, it is an expressive cinema. Its foremost quality is the treatment of its themes in the most stylistically successful manner. Its models are European ones, the concept of the perfect work. This explains the dependence, the colonization of certain secotrs of the Argentine intellectuality. The most important contributions of the new cinema come from Murua, Khun, Feldman, Martinez Suarez and Birri, who continue the work begun by Torre Nilsson——the early Torre Nilsson. Today the circumstances are changed and the panorama is radicalized. Certain directors, however, such as Torre Nilsson and Autin irt with the temptations of the system (television, publications, the brilliant future) and openly consort with the VIP’’s of the system. Nilsson, after having earned almost a million dollars with Martin Fierro, prepared to lm the life of San Martin with the aid of the authorities and the Army in order to draw a parallel between the creator of the anti-colonialist army and Ongania, the current Argentine president, head of the neo-colonial Army. Manuel Antino, called the "Argentine Resnais" by the critic and the cineclub elites, is preparing to produce on the most famous stories by Borges, with Orson Welles. Antin, producer of publication lms and programs for television, recently nished a series of programs for television whose theme and titles was Los Argentinos. The last transmission of a half-hour was dedicated to the aforementioned Ongania.* Speaking of ‚‚Cinema Novo‘‘ from Brazil, which is really a cinema within the system, the difference there is that the forces of the national and popular culture 26

are very strong, stronger than they are in Argentina. The Argentine bourgeois is a fairly marginal one, dependent on the bourgeois of the oppressor countries, many of whom live in the capital. The typical cultivated Argentine intellectual is better informed on the situation in Europe than in the rest of Argentina. The opposite is true for Brazil. But I would not speak in general of the Brazilian ‚‚Cinema Novo‘‘ because, if we are concerned with a movement in which they work together over a period of generations, there is a great difference between the work of Rocha, Pereira, Dos Santos, Ruy Guerra and perhaps some others such as Hirzmann. The Latin American cinema as an expression of a national and popular culture nds its highest expression in the idiom of Glauber Rocha. He is in fact very important for our continent; he is concerned, perhaps for the rst time, with research authentically "ours." Another very important lm is Ukamu, the lm by Sanjines, the Bolivian. It is a lm which is one of the most important in Latin American cinema. It is inuenced by the work of Santiago Alvarez, the most prominent lmmaker of the Cuban cinema, a cinema renowned for its capacity of invention, its originality and its themes. Paralleling the work of the documentary group in Cuba, a movement of revolutionary cinema concerned with the problem of national liberation has begun to develop in countries such as Uruguay, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Bolivia. The importance of this development is that it is a cinema which has developed from almost nothing; it is a revolutionary cinema in a pre-revolutionary situation. As for Cuba, that is a different situation. The elaboration of a revolutionary culture doesn’’t resolve itself with the take-over of political power. It is a complicated process and must be seen in its historical context. The Cuban revolution itself as an historical fact is the major expression of the Latin American culture of this century. On the cultural level, we are searching for our own idiom, an interpretation of culture as a celebration of the concrete history of a people. It is the Cuban people who have begun their rst national cultural developments aside from the revolution. The Cuban cinema is going through an important process which is the research of its own idiom, in which they are experimenting with different hypotheses. Even though Garcia Espinosa, Massip, Pineda Barnet, Fraga, Guillen and Cortazar comrpise a nucleus rich in talent and concern and are experimenting in various ways, they haven’’t yet found a proper method as has Glauber Rocha in Brazil. Q: If you were invited to make a lm within the system, would you accept and, if so, what would you make? A: Let’’s not maintain that within the system it is possible to make a lm of real consciousness or that you can really set up an effective relationship with the public (and not the intellectual elites, who are another thing). Disregarding our particular situation, which is outside the lm industry, let’’s suppose that we were not forced to compromise in an ideological-political battle, that there wouldn’’t be any political censorship, and that we would have a producer. Well then, in an ideal 27

situation we would make a lm that would have a certain ideological effect, and which would also be effective on other levels as well. In a culture in the process of national liberation, still ruled by an oppressive neo-colonial regime, it would be necessary in a ctional, narrative cinema to deal with real Argentine history and a radical treatment of problems on the level of metaphor and analogy since it would be impossible to say certain things directly. Since the public is mainly made up of the middle classes, the petit bourgeois employees, students, etc., it would be possible to work with a non-direct cinema but the use of anaologies would be essential. We would be very interested in an historical cinema and it is conceivable that it could possess such cultural values that it could overcome highly reactionary conditioning and censorship. It is the problem of creating a cinema which would be able to deal with the necessities and problems of the masses that go to the cinema in Argentina. PROJECTS But these are discources that are somewhat idealized. We prefer to work on that which is possible. At the moment we aren’’t working on anything. Now that battle will be to continue our cinematic work. We are sure that we will succeed because if we don’’t succeed in Argentina we will do it in some other Latin American country. But in two years, considering that we have to elaborate on a new script, new projects, conduct further studies, we will have nished a second feature. THE NEW Still there are perhaps some instances of valuable cinema within the system. In the new generation of lmmakers there is some recognition of the country’’s actual problems and cultural heritage. Gerardo Vallejo is a young lmmaker who was trained at the Birri school in Santa Fe. His is an interesting story. He made his lm with only one assistant, with real people rather than actors, and under very poor nancial conditions. His lm, El camino hacia la muerte del viejo Reales, is one of the most important lms that has ever been made in Argentina and on the entire continent. It is a narrative short but with an extremely modern structure with a documentarian base. Vallejo is a poet who has narrated in documentary style the life of a Tucuman family of peasants and workers in the elds. It is a lm of daily life, told with a freedom and an exceptional violence. When I saw the workprint of the lm, I was amazed by it. Rarely have I seen such a pure lm, one as human or as cruel as this one. It is one of the few lms that combines a popular Argentine culture with a culture of liberation. I would say that it is a lm of a new beauty, of an anti-bourgeois aesthetic.

THE PROSPECTS Q: I would like to conclude with a somewhat provacative question. Even from the Latin American and Argentine viewpoint, one can state the objection to La hora de los hornos that it is an interesting and important lm but it doesn’’t open prospectives; it is an unrepeatable, unique experience. A: We are living in a world controlled by the enemy, colonized, divided and confronted by the enemy. Our lm molests, irritates, disconcerts. Some people try to minimize its import by ignoring it or relegating it to the level of a unique, limited experience. It is not for nothing that a lm such as ours has the sense of negating social status, the myths, the commodity of a petit bourgeois intellectuality. Instead the trend developed by La hora de los hornos is already being adopted and continued in Argentina by the young lmmakers and in part we have inuenced certain elements of Latin American cinema as I have determined from various lms made after ours and shown at the recent festival in Merida. Beyond the direct inuences (Santiago Alvarez had already initiated the line of openly political cinema), La hora is signicant as an enormous step in the reafrmation that within a situation of neo-colonial oppression it is possible to realize a political cinema and one of great vision (and I mean a relevant production because there are three features). It is impossible to do it if one wishes to retain the advantages that the system offers to those who yield to it. Still one thing remains certain——the revolutionary attempts are not the rule but the exception; we have only started a long discourse which is far from completion. In our lm we have only sketches about 60 themes and any of them is the basis for a feature. Independently of these encountered reactions that spring from a typical situation in a colonial world, this reaction against us makes us very happy because the lm serves to radicalize and clarify many situations. One thing is certain, however——La hora has a relevant importance in the national culture. *A separate notice is merited by Fernando Birri, who brought to a high level of development documentaries of social denunciation.



Jean-Luc Godard GODARD ON SOLANAS, SOLANAS ON GODARD (October 1969) JEAN-LUC GODARD: the Furnaces? How would you dene your lm, The Hour of

nd in the future new occurrences that needed to the incorporated. The "acts”” end when the participants decide to end them. The lm has been the detonator of the act, the agent that mobilizes the old spectator. Furthermore, we believe in what Fanon said: "If we must involve everyone in the ght for our common salvation, there can be no spectators, there are no innocents. We all dirty our hands in the swamps of our soil and in the emptiness of our minds. Every spectator is either a coward or a traitor.”” That is to say, that we are not facing a lm for expression, nor a lm for communication, but a lm for action, a lm for liberation. JLG: What sort of problems did you have?

FERNANDO SOLANAS: As an ideological and political lm-essay. Some people have talked about a lm-book and this is correct because we supply information, elements for reection, titles, and didactic forms…… The structure of the narration is constructed as it is in a book: prologue, chapters and the epilogue. It is a lm absolutely free in its form and its language. We have used everything that was necessary or useful for our educational ends: from direct sequences or interviews to others whose form approaches that of a story, or tale, or a song, or even montage of concepts as images. The subtitle of the lm shows its documentary character, it is intended to be a proof, a testimony, concrete evidence of a particular reality: "Notes and Testimonies on NeoColonialism, Violence and Liberation.”” It is a documentary lm of accusation but at the same time it is a lm that wants to educate and to research. It is a lm whose contribution lies in its orientation; it points a direction, it points a way. Because the lm is not addressed to anyone, it is not addressed to an audience that believes in "cultural coexistence,”” but, on the other hand, it is addressed to the masses who suffer the great neocolonial oppression. This is shown mainly in the second and third part, because the rst tells that which the masses already know, intuitively feel and love; the rst part plays the role of a prologue. The Hour of the Furnaces is also a lm "act,”” an anti-show, because it denies itself as lm and opens itself to the public for debate, discussion and further developments. Each show becomes a place of liberation, an act in which man takes cognizance of his situation and of the need for a deeper praxis to change the situation. JLG: How does the "act”” take place?

FS: Besides all the problems common to any economic production, I could say that the biggest problem was to overcome our dependence on foreign cinematographic models. Meaning that we had to liberate ourselves as creators. It is this dependence, fundamentally aesthetic, of our lm via-a-vis the American and European lm, which is its biggest limitation. And this could not be understood separately from the analysis of the Argentine cultural situation. The ofcial Argentine culture, the culture of the neocolonial bourgeoisie, is a culture of imitation, second-hand, old and decadent. A culture built with the cultural models of the oppressive, imperialist bourgeoisies. A culture European-style, today Americanized. That is why the greatest part of Argentine lms made today are built open the productive, argumentative and aesthetic models of yankee lms, or on the so-called "author-oriented”” European lmmaking. There are no inventions, no search of our own. There is translation, development or copy. There is dependence…… JLG: American lm is lm to be sold……

FS: There are pauses in the lm, interruptions so that the lms and the topics presented can pass from the screen to the theatre, that is, to life, to the present. The old spectator, the subject who beholds, the onlooker, according to the traditional lm that develops from the bourgeois concepts of the arts of the 1800s, that nonparticipant, becomes the live protagonist, a real actor in the story of the lm and in the history itself, since the lm is about our contemporary history. And it is a lm about liberation, about an unnished stage in our history; it cannot be anything but an unnished lm, a lm open to the present and to the future of this act of liberation. That is why the lm must be completed by the protagonists, and we are not discarding the possibility of adding new notes and lm testimonies if were to 30

FS: Exactly, a lm tied up with shows and business; subservient to and conditioned by capitalist exploitation. Of this prot-seeking mode of production are born all genres, techniques, language and even the duration of present day lms. It was to break with these conceptions, with this conditioning, which gave us the most difculty. We had to liberate ourselves: lm made sense if we could use it as a writer or a painter do to accomplish their task, if we could bring about our experience starting from our needs. So we decided to risk, to try, to search before conditioning ourselves to the masters of the "seventh art,”” who could only express themselves through the novel, the short story or drama. We started to liberate ourselves of the "Viscontis, Renoirs, Giacondas, Resnaises, Paveses, etc.””…… committed to nd a new form, our form, our language, our structure…… That which would coincide with the needs of our audiences and with the needs of the total liberation of the Argentine man; meaning that this search in the lm media did not come as an aesthetic category, but as a category of the liberation of our people and our country. This way a new lm was born that gave up the 31

holding of the theme-novel, or the lm that is a lm of actors, stories and feelings, to become a lm of concepts, of thoughts, of topics. History as a novel gave way to history told with ideas, to a lm to see and to read, to feel and to think, a lm of research equivalent to the ideological essay…… JLG: What role can this lm play in the process of liberation?

situation analogous to that of a worker who must abandon the strike because he owes four months to the grocer. There are lmmakers, like Truffaut, who sincerely say that they are not going to change their life styles, and others just keep playing a dual game, like those of Cahiers…… FS: JLG: FS: JLG: FS: JLG: FS: Is the "author-oriented”” lm a bourgeois lm category? Exactly, the "author”” is something like a professor in a university…… How do you ideologically dene this type of "author”” lm? Objectively, today’’s "author”” lms are allied with the reaction. Who stand out as examples? Fellini, Antonioni, Visconti, Bresson, Bergman…… What about young ones?

FS: First of all, to transmit the information that we do not have. The means of communication, the mechanism of culture, are in the hands of or are controlled by the system. The information that is made available is that which the system wants to make available. The role of the lm of liberation is, above all, to prepare and to propagate our information. Bringing up once again: that which is theirs and that which is ours. From another point of view, the whole concept of our lm——open lm, lm of participation, etc.——points to one and only one fundamental objective: to help set free, to liberate man. A man who is oppressed, repressed, inhibited and manacled. It is a lm for this combat. To raise the level of consciousness and understanding of those sectors of the people who are the most uneasy above their condition. Will it just reach a limited circle? Maybe. But the so-called lm of the masses only transmits that which the system allows, that is, it becomes an instrument of escape, of evasion, of mystication. Film of liberation, on the other hand, reaches, at this stage, smaller groups, but reaches them in greater depth. It comes with the truth, it is better to disseminate ideas that help liberate a single man, than to contribute to the mass colonization of the people. JLG: The Cubans say that the duty of every revolutionary is to make the revolution. What is the duty of the revolutionary lmmaker? FS: To use lm as a weapon, or as a gun, to transform the work itself into an act, into a revolutionary act. What is for your this duty or commitment? JLG: To work fully as a militant, to make less lms and be more militant. This is very difcult because the lmmaker has been educated in the realm of individualism. But in lms too it is necessary to start anew…… FS: Your experience after the "May events”” [May ‘‘68] are paramount. I’’d like you to share them with our Latin American colleagues…… JLG: The "May events”” have brought us a fantastic liberation. "May”” has imposed its truth; it has forcesd us to talk and to articulate the problems in a different light. Before "May”” here in France all the intellectuals had an alibi which permitted them to live comfortably, that is, to have a car, an apartment…… But "May”” has created a very simple problem, that of changing our lifestyles, of breaking with the system. To the successful intellectuals "May”” ushered in a 32

JLG: In France, Godard before May, Truffaut, Rivette, Demy, Resnais…… everyone …… in England, Lester, Brooks…… in Italy, Pasolini, Bertolucci…… lastly Polanski…… everyone. FS: JLG: FS: Do you think these lmmakers are integrated within the system? Yes, they are integrated and they do not want to be de-integrated…… And the more critical lmmaking, is it also recovered by the system?

JLG: Yes, these lms are also recovered by the system because they are not strong enough in relation to their integrating potentialities. For example, the American "Newsreels”” are as poor as you and me, but if CBS offered them $10,000 to project one of their lms, they would refuse because they would be integrated…… and why would they be integrated? Because the structure of American television is so strong that it recovers for the system everything that it shows. The only way in which we would get back at TV in the USA would be not to project anything during two or four hours that the TV station pays precisely for showing and recovering. In Hollywood they are now preparing a lm about Che Guevara, and there is even a lm with Mao Tse Tung…… Those Newsreel lms, if they were to be shown by French TV, they would not be recuperative, at least not totally because they are coming from another country…… Similarly my lms, which here are recuperated, have a certain value in Latin America.


FS: I don’’t agree with the last thing you said. I believe that when a national lm deals with a subject from the point of view of the oppressed classes, when it is clear and deep, it becomes practically indigestible for the system…… I do don’’t believe that CBS would buy a lm about "Black Power,”” or a lm with Carmichael talking to Blacks about violence, or that French TV would show a lm about Cohn-Bendit saying everything he believe…… In our countries there are a lot of things allowed when they refer to foreign problems, but when these same problems are international, because of their political nature, they cannot be absorbed…… A few months back, censorship prevented Strike and October by Eisenstein…… On the other hand; most of all "author-oriented”” lms deal with bourgeois problems from all the point of view of the bourgeoisie. They are not only absorbed by the system, they actually become in our countries the aesthetic and thematic models of our neocolonized "author”” lmmaking. JLG: I agree. But when, here in France, the political becomes difcult for them, [the system] can no longer absorb like before…… This is the case with your lm, which I am sure will not be absorbed, and will be censored…… But it is not only in the political scene that absorption occurs, it also happens in the aesthetic eld. My most difcult lms to be absorbed were the last ones that I made within the system, where the aesthetic was turned political, like in Weekend and La Chinioise…… A political position must correspond to an aesthetic position. We must not make an "author-oriented”” cinema, but a scientic cinema. Aesthetics must also be studied scientically. Every investigation in science, as in art, corresponds to a political line, even if you ignore it. In the same manner as there are scientic discoveries, there are aesthetic discoveries. This is why we must consciously clear the role we have chosen and to which we are committed. Antonioni, for example, at a certain moment accomplished some valid work, but he no longer does…… He did not radicalize himself. He makes a lm about students as it would be done in the United States, but he does not make a lm coming from the students…… Pasolini has talent, lots of talent, he knows how to make lms on a particular topic as one learns to make compositions at school…… For example, he can make a beautiful poem about the Third World…… But it is not the Third World that has made the poem. Then, I believe it is necessary to be the Third World, and then one day it is the Third World who has made the poem and if you are the one who sings it, it is simply because you are a poet and you must know how to do it…… It’’s as you say, a lm must be a weapon, a gun…… But there are still people in the dark and they need more than a pocket ashlight to bring light around themselves, and this is precisely the role of theory…… We need a Marxist analysis of image and sound. Even Lenin, when he talked about lm, did not make a theoretical analysis, but rather an analysis in terms of production, so that there could be lms everywhere. Only Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov occupied themselves with this topic.


How do you lm now? Do you have a producer?

JLG: I have never had a producer. I had one or two producer friends of mine, but I never worked with the usual production houses. When I did it, once or twice, it was an error…… It is now impossible for me. I don’’t know how the others do it. I see some of my comrades, like Cournot or Bertolucci, for example, who are forced to ring the bell at the house of a cretin to save their work. But I never did this. Now I am the producer with whatever I have…… and I lm much more than before, because I lm in a different way, in 16mm, or with my small TV equipment …… and different also in another sense, even if it sounds preposterous to use the Vietnamese example. I refer to the use the Vietnamese give to the bicycle in combat or resistance. Here a champion cyclist could not make use of the bicycle as a Vietnamese does. Well, I want to learn to use the bicycle as Vietnamese. I have a lot to do with my bicycle, a lot of work ahead, and this is what I have to do, and this is what I must do. This is why now I lm so much. This year I made four lms. FS: What is the difference between what you used to do and the sort of lm you make now? JLG: Now I try to make a lm that consciously tries to participate in the political struggle. Earlier it was unconscious, a sentimentalist…… I was in the Left, if you want, although I started from a position in the right, and also because I was bourgeois, an individualist. Afterwards I evolved psychologically to the Left, until I reached the not the position of a "parliamentary left,”” but a revolutionary left, radicalized, with all the contradictions that presupposes…… FS: And cinematographically?

JLG: Cinematographically, I always tried to do that which was never done, even when I worked with the system. Now I try to tie up "what is never done”” with the revolutionary struggle. Before, my search was an individual’’s struggle. Now I want to know if I am wrong, why I am wrong, and if I am right, why I am right. I try to do that which is not done because everything that is done is almost totally imperialist. The cinema of the East is imperialist cinema; the Cuban cinema——with the exception of Santiago Alvarez and one or two documentary lmmakers——is a cinema that functions half-way with an imperialist model. All the Russian cinema has turned rapidly into imperialist, it has been bureaucratized, with the exception of two are three persons who have struggles against this: Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov and [Medvedkin], who is absolutely unknown…… Now I make cinema with workers, I do that which ideologically they want, but I also say: "Careful!””…… It is necessary that in addition to making this type of lm, they do not on Sundays patronize the system’’s crappy lms. This is our obligation and our way to help "he struggle of the lmmakers.”” In short, I have reached the conclusion that the movie scene 35


being so confused and complicated, it is important to make lms with people who are not lmmakers, with people who are interested in what they see on the screen bearing a relationship with themselves…… FS: Why do you work with people who do not belong to lmmaking?

JLG: Because in regards to the language of lmmaking it is a small handful of individuals, in Hollywood or in Moslm, or wherever, that imposes their language, their speech, to the whole population, and it is not sufcient to get away from the this small group and say, "I make a different cinema””…… Because one still has the same ideals about lmmaking. This is why to overcome this one must give the opportunity to make cinematographic speech to those people who, up to now, never had this opportunity…… A very extraordinary thing about the events of last May in Paris happened when all the people started to write on the walls…… the only ones who had the right to write on the walls were advertisers…… People were made to believe that writing on the walls was dirty and ugly, but I also had the impulse to write on the walls and I have kept it up since "May””…… It was no longer an anarchistic idea but a deep desire…… Also for lmmaking it is necessary to begin anew…… I made a lm with students talking to workers and it was very clear: the students talked all the time and the workers never…… The workers among themselves talked a lot…… but where are their words? Not in the newspapers, not in the lms. Where are the words of the people who constitute the 80%? We must allow the word of the majority to be expressed. That is why I do not want to belong to the minority who talks and talks all the time, or the minority who make lm, but I want my language to express what the 80% want to say…… This is why I do not want to make lms with lm people but with the people who constitute the great majority of humanity…… Fernando Solanas & Octavio Getino TOWARDS A THIRD CINEMA: Notes and Experiences for the Development of a Cinema of Liberation in the Third World (October 1969) "...we must discuss, we must invent..." ——Frantz Fanon Just a short time ago it would have seemed like a Quixotic adventure in the colonised, neocolonised, or even the imperialist nations themselves to make any attempt to create lms of decolonisation that turned their back on or actively opposed the System. Until recently, lm had been synonymous with 36

spectacle or entertainment: in a word, it was one more consumer good. At best, lms succeeded in bearing witness to the decay of bourgeois values and testifying to social injustice. As a rule, lms only dealt with effect, never with cause; it was cinema of mystication or anti-historicism. It was surplus value cinema. Caught up in these conditions, lms, the most valuable tool of communication of our times, were destined to satisfy only the ideological and economic interests of the owners of the lm industry, the lords of the world lm market, the great majority of whom were from the United States. Was it possible to overcome this situation? How could the problem of turning out liberating lms be approached when costs came to several thousand dollars and the distribution and exhibition channels were in the hands of the enemy? How could the continuity of work be guaranteed? How could the public be reached? How could System-imposed repression and censorship be vanquished? These questions, which could be multiplied in all directions, led and still lead many people to scepticism or rationalisation: ‚‚revolutionary cinema cannot exist before the revolution‘‘; ‚‚revolutionary lms have been possible only in the liberated countries‘‘; ‚‚without the support of revolutionary political power, revolutionary cinema or art is impossible.‘‘ The mistake was due to taking the same approach to reality and lms as did the bourgeoisie. The models of production, distribution, and exhibition continued to be those of Hollywood precisely because, in ideology and politics, lms had not yet become the vehicle for a clearly drawn differentiation between bourgeois ideology and politics. A reformist policy, as manifested in dialogue with the adversary, in coexistence, and in the relegation of national contradictions to those between two supposedly unique blocs——the USSR and the USA——was and is unable to produce anything but a cinema within the System itself. At best, it can be the ‚‚progressive‘‘ wing of Establishment cinema. When all is said and done, such cinema was doomed to wait until the world conict was resolved peacefully in favour of socialism in order to change qualitatively. The most daring attempts of those lm-makers who strove to conquer the fortress of ofcial cinema ended, as Jean-Luc Godard eloquently put it, with the lmmakers themselves ‚‚trapped inside the fortress.‘‘ But the questions that were recently raised appeared promising; they arose from a new historical situation to which the lm-maker, as is often the case with the educated strata of our countries, was rather a latecomer: ten years of the Cuban Revolution, the Vietnamese struggle, and the development of a worldwide liberation movement whose moving force is to be found in the Third World countries. The existence of masses on the worldwide revolutionary plane was the substantial fact without which those questions could not have been posed. A new historical situation and a new man born in the process of the antiimperialist struggle demanded a new, revolutionary attitude from the lm-makers of the world. The question of whether or not militant cinema was possible before the revolution began to be replaced, at least within small groups, by the question of whether or not such a cinema was necessary to contribute to the possibility 37

of revolution. An afrmative answer was the starting point for the rst attempts to channel the process of seeking possibilities in numerous countries. Examples are Newsreel, a US New Left lm group, the cinegiornali of the Italian student movement, the lms made by the Etats Generaux du Cinema Francais, and those of the British and Japanese student movements, all a continuation and deepening of the work of a Joris Ivens or a Chris Marker. Let it sufce to observe the lms of a Santiago Alvarez in Cuba, or the cinema being developed by different lmmakers in ‚‚the homeland of all‘‘, as Bolivar would say, as they seek a revolutionary Latin American cinema. A profound debate on the role of intellectuals and artists before liberation is today enriching the perspectives of intellectual work all over the world. However, this debate oscillates between two poles: one which proposes to relegate all intellectual work capacity to a specically political or political-military function, denying perspectives to all artistic activity with the idea that such activity must ineluctably be absorbed by the System, and the other which maintains an inner duality of the intellectual: on the one hand, the ‚‚work of art‘‘, ‘‘the privilege of beauty,’’ an art and a beauty which are not necessarily bound to the needs of the revolutionary political process, and, on the other, a political commitment which generally consists in signing certain antiimperialist manifestos. In practice, this point of view means the separation of politics and art. This polarity rests, as we see it, on two omissions: rst, the conception of culture, science, art, and cinema as univocal and universal terms, and, second, an insufciently clear idea of the fact that the revolution does not begin with the taking of political power from imperialism and the bourgeoisie, but rather begins at the moment when the masses sense the need for change and their intellectual vanguards begin to study and carry out this change through activities on different fronts. Culture, art, science, and cinema always respond to conicting class interests. In the neocolonial situation two concepts of culture, art, science, and cinema compete: that of the rulers and that of the nation. And this situation will continue, as long as the national concept is not identied with that of the rulers, as long as the status of colony or semi-colony continues in force. Moreover, the duality will be overcome and will reach a single and universal category only when the best values of man emerge from proscription to achieve hegemony, when the liberation of man is universal. In the meantime, there exist our culture and their culture, our cinema and their cinema. Because our culture is an impulse towards emancipation, it will remain in existence until emancipation is a reality: a culture of subversion which will carry with it an art, a science, and a cinema of subversion. The lack of awareness in regard to these dualities generally leads the intellectual to deal with artistic and scientic expressions as they were ‚‚universally conceived‘‘ by the classes that rule the world, at best introducing some correction into these expressions. We have not gone deeply enough into developing a revolutionary theatre, architecture, medicine, psychology, and cinema; into 38

developing a culture by and for us. The intellectual takes each of these forms of expression as a unit to be corrected from within the expression itself, and not from without, with its own new methods and models. An astronaut or a Ranger mobilises all the scientic resources of imperialism. Psychologists, doctors, politicians, sociologists, mathematicians, and even artists are thrown into the study of everything that serves, from the vantage point of different specialities, the preparation of an orbital ight or the massacre of Vietnamese; in the long run, all of these specialities are equally employed to satisfy the needs of imperialism. In Buenos Aires the army eradicates villas miseria (urban shanty towns) and in their place puts up ‚‚strategic hamlets‘‘ with town planning aimed at facilitating military intervention when the time comes. The revolutionary organisations lack specialised fronts not only in their medicine, engineering, psychology, and art——but also in our own revolutionary engineering, psychology, art, and cinema. In order to be effective, all these elds must recognise the priorities of each stage; those required by the struggle for power or those demanded by the already victorious revolution. Examples: creating a political sensitivity to the need to undertake a political-military struggle in order to take power; developing a medicine to serve the needs of combat in rural or urban zones; co-ordinating energies to achieve a 10 million ton sugar harvest as they attempted in Cuba; or elaborating an architecture, a city planning, that will be able to withstand the massive air raids that imperialism can launch at any time. The specic strengthening of each speciality and eld subordinate to collective priorities can ll the empty spaces caused by the struggle for liberation and can delineate with greatest efcacy the role of the intellectual in our time. It is evident that revolutionary mass-level culture and awareness can only be achieved after the taking of political power, but it is no less true that the use of scientic and artistic means, together with political-military means, prepares the terrain for the revolution to become reality and facilitates the solution of the problems that will arise with the taking of power. The intellectual must nd through his action the eld in which he can rationally perform the most efcient work. Once the front has been determined, his next task is to nd out within that front exactly what is the enemy‘‘s stronghold and where and how he must deploy his forces. It is in this harsh and dramatic daily search that a culture of the revolution will be able to emerge, the basis which will nurture, beginning right now, the new man exemplied by Che——not man in the abstract, not the ‚‚liberation of man‘‘, but another man, capable of arising from the ashes of the old, alienated man that we are and which the new man will destroy by starting to stoke the re today. The anti-imperialist struggle of the peoples of the Third World and of their equivalents inside the imperialist countries constitutes today the axis of the world revolution. Third cinema is, in our opinion, the cinema that recognises in that struggle the most gigantic cultural, scientic, and artistic manifestation of our time, the great possibility of constructing a liberated personality with each people 39

as the starting point——in a word, the decolonisation of culture. The culture, including the cinema, of a neocolonialised country is just the expression of an overall dependence that generates models and values born from the needs of imperialist expansion. In order to impose itself, neocolonialism needs to convince the people of a dependent country of their own inferiority. Sooner or later, the inferior man recognises Man with a capital M; this recognition means the destruction of his defences. If you want to be a man, says the oppressor, you have to be like me, speak my language, deny your own being, transform yourself into me. As early as the 17th century the Jesuit missionaries proclaimed the aptitude of the [South American] native for copying European works of art. Copyist, translator, interpreter, at best a spectator, the neocolonialised intellectual will always be encouraged to refuse to assume his creative possibilities. Inhibitions, uprootedness, escapism, cultural cosmopolitanism, artistic imitation, metaphysical exhaustion, betrayal of country——all nd fertile soil in which to grow. (1) Culture becomes bilingual. ...not due to the use of two languages but because of the conjuncture of two cultural patterns of thinking. One is national, that of the people, and the other is estranging, that of the classes subordinated to outside forces. The admiration that the upper classes express for the us or Europe is the highest expression of their subjection. With the colonialisation of the upper classes the culture of imperialism indirectly introduces among the masses knowledge which cannot be supervised. (2) Just as they are not masters of the land upon which they walk, the neocolonialised people are not masters of the ideas that envelop them. A knowledge of national reality presupposes going into the web of lies and confusion that arise from dependence. The intellectual is obliged to refrain from spontaneous thought; if he does think, he generally runs the risk of doing so in French or English——never in the language of a culture of his own which, like the process of national and social liberation, is still hazy and incipient. Every piece of data, every concept that oats around us, is part of a framework of mirages that is difcult to take apart. The native bourgeoisie of the port cities such as Buenos Aires, and their respective intellectual elites, constituted, from the very origins of our history, the transmission belt of neocolonial penetration. Behind such watchwords as ‚‚Civilisation or barbarism‘‘, manufactured in Argentina by Europeanising 40

liberalism, was the attempt to impose a civilisation fully in keeping with the needs of imperialist expansion and the desire to destroy the resistance of the national masses, which were successively called the ‚‚rabble‘‘, a ‚‚bunch of blacks‘‘, and ‚‚zoological detritus‘‘ in our country and the ‚‚unwashed hordes‘‘ in Bolivia. In this way the ideologists of the semicountries, past masters in ‚‚the play of big words, with an implacable, detailed, and rustic universalism‘‘ (3), served as spokesmen of those followers of Disraeli who intelligently proclaimed: ‚‚I prefer the rights of the English to the rights of man.‘‘ The middle sectors were and are the best recipients of cultural neocolonialism. Their ambivalent class condition, their buffer position between social polarities, and their broader possibilities of access to civilisation offer imperialism a base of social support which has attained considerable importance in some Latin American countries. If in an openly colonial situation cultural penetration is the complement of a foreign army of occupation, during certain stages this penetration assumes major priority. It serves to institutionalise and give a normal appearance to dependence. The main objective of this cultural deformation is to keep the people from realising their neocolonialised position and aspiring to change it. In this way educational colonisation is an effective substitute for the colonial police.(4) Mass communications tend to complete the destruction of a national awareness and of a collective subjectivity on the way to enlightenment, a destruction which begins as soon as the child has access to these media, the education and culture of the ruling classes. In Argentina, 26 television channels; one million television sets; more than 50 radio stations; hundreds of newspapers, periodicals, and magazines; and thousands of records, lms, etc., join their acculturating role of the colonialisation of taste and consciousness to the process of neocolonial education which begins in the university. ‚‚Mass communications are more effective for neocolonialism than napalm. What is real, true, and rational is to be found on the margin of the law, just as are the people. Violence, crime, and destruction come to be Peace, Order, and Normality.‘‘(5) Truth, then, amounts to subversion. Any form of expression or communication that tries to show national reality is subversion. Cultural penetration, educational colonisation, and mass communications all join forces today in a desperate attempt to absorb, neutralise, or eliminate any expression that responds to an attempt at decolonisation. Neocolonialism makes a serious attempt to castrate, to digest, the cultural forms that arise beyond the bounds of its own aims. Attempts are made to remove from them precisely what makes them effective and dangerous; in short, it tries to depoliticise them. Or, to put it another way, to separate the cultural manifestation from the ght for national independence. Ideas such as ‚‚Beauty in itself is revolutionary‘‘ and ‚‚All new cinema is revolutionary‘‘ are idealistic aspirations that do not touch the neocolonial 41

condition, since they continue to conceive of cinema, art, and beauty as universal abstractions and not as an integral part of the national processes of decolonisation. Any attempt, no matter how virulent, which does not serve to mobilise, agitate, and politicise sectors of the people, to arm them rationally and perceptibly, in one way or another, for the struggle——is received with indifference or even with pleasure. Virulence, nonconformism, plain rebelliousness, and discontent are just so many more products on the capitalist market; they are consumer goods. This is especially true in a situation where the bourgeoisie is in need of a daily dose of shock and exciting elements of controlled violence (7)——that is, violence which absorption by the System turns into pure stridency. Examples are the works of a socialist-tinged painting and sculpture which are greedily sought after by the new bourgeoisie to decorate their apartments and mansions; plays full of anger and avant-gardism which are noisily applauded by the ruling classes; the literature of ‚‚progressive‘‘ writers concerned with semantics and man on the margin of time and space, which gives an air of democratic broadmindedness to the System‘‘s publishing houses and magazines; and the cinema of ‚‚challenge,‘‘ of ‚‚argument,‘‘ promoted by the distribution monopolies and launched by the big commercial outlets. In reality the area of permitted protest of the System is much greater than the System is willing to admit. This gives the artists the illusion that they are acting ‚‚against the system‘‘ by going beyond certain narrow limits; they do not realise that even anti-System art can be absorbed and utilised by the System, as both a brake and a necessary self-correction.(7) Lacking an awareness of how to utilise what is ours for our true liberation—— in a word, lacking politicisation——all of these ‚‚progressive‘‘ alternatives come to form the leftist wing of the System, the improvement of its cultural products. They will be doomed to carry out the best work on the left that the right is able to accept today and will thus only serve the survival of the latter. ‚‚Restore words, dramatic actions, and images to the places where they can carry out a revolutionary role, where they will be useful, where they will become weapons in the struggle.‘‘ (8) Insert the work as an original fact in the process of liberation, place it rst at the service of life itself, ahead of art; dissolve aesthetics in the life of society: only in this way, as Fanon said, can decolonisation become possible and culture, cinema, and beauty——at least, what is of greatest importance to us——become our culture, our lms, and our sense of beauty. The historical perspectives of Latin America and of the majority of the countries under imperialist domination are headed not towards a lessening of repression but towards an increase. We are heading not for bourgeois-democratic regimes but for dictatorial forms of government. The struggles for democratic freedoms, instead of seizing concessions from the System, move it to cut down on them, given its narrow margin for manoeuvring. The bourgeois-democratic facade caved in some time ago. The cycle opened during the last century in Latin America with the rst attempts at selfafrmation of a national bourgeoisie differentiated from the metropolis (examples 42

are Rosas‘‘ federalism in Argentina, the Lopez and Francia regimes in Paraguay, and those of Bengido and Balmaceda in Chile) with a tradition that has continued well into our century: national-bourgeois, national-popular, and democraticbourgeois attempts were made by Cardenas, Yrigoyen, Haya de la Torre, Vargas, Aguirre Cerda, Peron, and Arbenz. But as far as revolutionary prospects are concerned, the cycle has denitely been completed. The lines allowing for the deepening of the historical attempt of each of those experiences today pass through the sectors that understand the continent‘‘s situation as one of war and that are preparing, under the force of circumstances, to make that region the Vietnam of the coming decade. A war in which national liberation can only succeed when it is simultaneously postulated as social liberation - socialism as the only valid perspective of any national liberation process. At this time in Latin America there is room for neither passivity nor innocence. The intellectual‘‘s commitment is measured in terms of risks as well as words and ideas; what he does to further the cause of liberation is what counts. The worker who goes on strike and thus risks losing his job or even his life, the student who jeopardises his career, the militant who keeps silent under torture: each by his or her action commits us to something much more important than a vague gesture of solidarity. (9) In a situation in which the ‚‚state of law‘‘ is replaced by the ‚‚state of facts,‘‘ the intellectual, who is one more worker, functioning on a cultural front, must become increasingly radicalised to avoid denial of self and to carry out what is expected of him in our times. The impotence of all reformist concepts has already been exposed sufciently, not only in politics but also in culture and lms——and especially in the latter, whose history is that of imperialist domination——mainly Yankee. While, during the early history (or the prehistory) of the cinema, it was possible to speak of a German, an Italian, or a Swedish cinema clearly differentiated and corresponding to specic national characteristics, today such differences have disappeared. The borders were wiped out along with the expansion of US imperialism and the lm model that is imposed: Hollywood movies. In our times it is hard to nd a lm within the eld of commercial cinema, including what is known as ‚‚author‘‘s cinema,‘‘ in both the capitalist and socialist countries, that manages to avoid the models of Hollywood pictures. The latter have such a fast hold that monumental works such as Bondarchuk‘‘s War and Peace from the USSR are also monumental examples of the submission to all propositions imposed by the US movie industry (structure, language, etc.) and, consequently, to its concepts. The placing of the cinema within US models, even in the formal aspect, in language, leads to the adoption of the ideological forms that gave rise to precisely that language and no other. Even the appropriation of models which appear to be only technical, industrial, scientic, etc., leads to a conceptual dependency, due to the fact that the cinema is an industry, but differs from other industries in that it has been created and organised in order to generate certain ideologies. The 35mm 43

camera, 24 frames per second, arc lights, and a commercial place of exhibition for audiences were conceived not to gratuitously transmit any ideology, but to satisfy, in the rst place, the cultural and surplus value needs of a specic ideology, of a specic world-view: that of US nance capital. The mechanistic takeover of a cinema conceived as a show to be exhibited in large theatres with a standard duration, hermetic structures that are born and die on the screen, satises, to be sure, the commercial interests of the production groups, but it also leads to the absorption of forms of the bourgeois world-view which are the continuation of 19th century art, of bourgeois art: man is accepted only as a passive and consuming object; rather than having his ability to make history recognised, he is only permitted to read history, contemplate it, listen to it, and undergo it. The cinema as a spectacle aimed at a digesting object is the highest point that can be reached by bourgeois lm-making. The world, experience, and the historic process are enclosed within the frame of a painting, the stage of a theatre, and the movie screen; man is viewed as a consumer of ideology, and not as the creator of ideology. This notion is the starting point for the wonderful interplay of bourgeois philosophy and the obtaining of surplus value. The result is a cinema studied by motivational analysts, sociologists and psychologists, by the endless researchers of the dreams and frustrations of the masses, all aimed at selling movie-life, reality as it is conceived by the ruling classes. The rst alternative to this type of cinema, which we could call the rst cinema, arose with the so-called ‚‚author‘‘s cinema,‘‘ ‚‚expression cinema,‘‘ ‚‚nouvelle vague,‘‘ ‚‚cinema novo,‘‘ or, conventionally, the second cinema. This alternative signied a step forward inasmuch as it demanded that the lm-maker be free to express himself in non-standard language and inasmuch as it was an attempt at cultural decolonisation. But such attempts have already reached, or are about to reach, the outer limits of what the system permits. The second cinema lm-maker has remained ‚‚trapped inside the fortress‘‘ as Godard put it, or is on his way to becoming trapped. The search for a market of 200,000 moviegoers in Argentina, a gure that is supposed to cover the costs of an independent local production, the proposal of developing a mechanism of industrial production parallel to that of the System but which would be distributed by the System according to its own norms, the struggle to better the laws protecting the cinema and replacing ‚‚bad ofcials‘‘ by ‚‚less bad,‘‘ etc., is a search lacking in viable prospects, unless you consider viable the prospect of becoming institutionalised as ‚‚the youthful, angry wing of society‘‘——that is, of neocolonialised or capitalist society. Real alternatives differing from those offered by the System are only possible if one of two requirements is fullled: making lms that the System cannot assimilate and which are foreign to its needs, or making lms that directly and explicitly set out to ght the System. Neither of these requirements ts within the alternatives that are still offered by the second cinema, but they can be found in the revolutionary opening towards a cinema outside and against the System, in a cinema of liberation: the third cinema. 44

One of the most effective jobs done by neocolonialism is its cutting off of intellectual sectors, especially artists, from national reality by lining them up behind ‚‚universal art and models‘‘. It has been very common for intellectuals and artists to be found at the tail end of popular struggle, when they have not actually taken up positions against it. The social layers which have made the greatest contribution to the building of a national culture (understood as an impulse towards decolonisation) have not been precisely the enlightened elites but rather the most exploited and uncivilised sectors. Popular organisations have very rightly distrusted the ‚‚intellectual‘‘ and the ‚‚artist‘‘. When they have not been ‚‚openly used by the bourgeoisie or imperialism, they have certainly been their indirect tools; most of them did not go beyond spouting a policy in favour of ‚‚peace and democracy‘‘, fearful of anything that had a national ring to it, afraid of contaminating art with politics and the artists with the revolutionary militant. They thus tended to obscure the inner causes determining neocolonialised society and placed in the foreground the outer causes, which, while ‚‚they are the condition for change, can never be the basis for change‘‘; (10) in Argentina they replaced the struggle against imperialism and the native oligarchy with the struggle of democracy against fascism, suppressing the fundamental contradiction of a neocolonialised country and replacing it with ‚‚a contradiction that was a copy of the world-wide contradiction.‘‘ (11) This cutting off of the intellectual and artistic sectors from the processes of national liberation——which, among other things, helps us to understand the limitations in which these processes have been unfolding today tends to disappear to the extent that artists and intellectuals are beginning to discover the impossibility of destroying the enemy without rst joining in a battle for their common interests. The artist is beginning to feel the insufciency of his nonconformism and individual rebellion. And the revolutionary organisations, in turn, are discovering the vacuums that the struggle for power creates in the cultural sphere. The problems of lm-making, the ideological limitations of a lmmaker in a neocolonialised country, etc., have thus far constituted objective factors in the lack of attention paid to the cinema by the people‘‘s organisations. Newspapers and other printed matter, posters and wall propaganda, speeches and other verbal forms of information, enlightenment, and politicisation are still the main means of communication between the organisations and the vanguard layers of the masses. But the new political positions of some lm-makers and the subsequent appearance of lms useful for liberation have permitted certain political vanguards to discover the importance of movies. This importance is to be found in the specic meaning of lms as a form of communication and because of their particular characteristics, characteristics that allow them to draw audiences of different origins, many of them people who might not respond favourably to the announcement of a political speech. Films offer an effective pretext for gathering an audience, in addition to the ideological message they contain. The capacity for synthesis and the penetration of the lm image, the 45

possibilities offered by the living document, and naked reality, and the power of enlightenment of audiovisual means make the lm far more effective than any other tool of communication. It is hardly necessary to point out that those lms which achieve an intelligent use of the possibilities of the image, adequate dosage of concepts, language and structure that ow naturally from each theme, and counterpoints of audiovisual narration achieve effective results in the politicisation and mobilisation of cadres and even in work with the masses, where this is possible. The students who raised barricades on the Avenida 18 de Julio in Montevideo after the showing of La hora de los hornos (The Hour of the Furnaces), the growing demand for lms such as those made by Santiago Alvarez and the Cuban documentary lm movement, and the debates and meetings that take place after the underground or semipublic showings of third cinema lms are the beginning of a twisting and difcult road being travelled in the consumer societies by the mass organisations (Cinegiornali liberi in Italy, Zengakuren documentaries in Japan, etc.). For the rst time in Latin America, organisations are ready and willing to employ lms for political-cultural ends: the Chilean Partido Socialista provides its cadres with revolutionary lm material, while Argentine revolutionary Peronist and non-Peronist groups are taking an interest in doing likewise. Moreover, OSPAAAL (Organisation of Solidarity of the People of Africa, Asia and Latin America) is participating in the production and distribution of lms that contribute to the anti-imperialist struggle. The revolutionary organisations are discovering the need for cadres who, among other things, know how to handle a lm camera, tape recorders, and projectors in the most effective way possible. The struggle to seize power from the enemy is the meeting ground of the political and artistic vanguards engaged in a common task which is enriching to both. Some of the circumstances that delayed the use of lms as a revolutionary tool until a short time ago were lack of equipment, technical difculties, the compulsory specialisation of each phase of work, and high costs. The advances that have taken place within each specialisation; the simplication of movie cameras and tape recorders; improvements in the medium itself, such as rapid lm that can be shot in normal light; automatic light meters; improved audiovisual synchronisation; and the spread of know-how by means of specialised magazines with large circulations and even through nonspecialised media, have helped to demystify lm-making and divest it of that almost magic aura that made it seem that lms were only within the reach of ‚‚artists‘‘, ‚‚geniuses‘‘, and ‚‚the privileged‘‘. Filmmaking is increasingly within the reach of larger social layers. Chris Marker experimented in France with groups of workers whom he provided with 8mm equipment and some basic instruction in its handling. The goal was to have the worker lm his way of looking at the world, just as if he were writing it. This has opened up unheard-of prospects for the cinema; above all, a new conception of lm-making and the signicance of art in our times. Imperialism and capitalism, whether in the consumer society or in the neocolonialised country, veil everything behind a screen of images and appearances. 46

The image of reality is more important than reality itself. It is a world peopled with fantasies and phantoms in which what is hideous is clothed in beauty, while beauty is disguised as the hideous. On the one hand, fantasy, the imaginary bourgeois universe replete with comfort, equilibrium, sweet reason, order, efciency, and the possibility to ‚‚be someone‘‘. And, on the other, the phantoms, we the lazy, we the indolent and underdeveloped, we who cause disorder. When a neocolonialised person accepts his situation, he becomes a Gungha Din, a traitor at the service of the colonialist, an Uncle Tom, a class and racial renegade, or a fool, the easy-going servant and bumpkin; but, when he refuses to accept his situation of oppression, then he turns into a resentful savage, a cannibal. Those who lose sleep from fear of the hungry, those who comprise the System, see the revolutionary as a bandit, robber, and rapist; the rst battle waged against them is thus not on a political plane, but rather in the police context of law, arrests, etc. The more exploited a man is, the more he is placed on a plane of insignicance. The more he resists, the more he is viewed as a beast. This can be seen in Africa Addio, made by the fascist Jacopetti: the African savages, killer animals, wallow in abject anarchy once they escape from white protection. Tarzan died, and in his place were born Lumumbas and Lobegulas, Nkomos, and the Madzimbamutos, and this is something that neocolonialism cannot forgive. Fantasy has been replaced by phantoms and man is turned into an extra who dies so Jacopetti can comfortably lm his execution. I make the revolution; therefore I exist. This is the starting point for the disappearance of fantasy and phantom to make way for living human beings. The cinema of the revolution is at the same time one of destruction and construction: destruction of the image that neocolonialism has created of itself and of us, and construction of a throbbing, living reality which recaptures truth in any of its expressions. The restitution of things to their real place and meaning is an eminently subversive fact both in the neocolonial situation and in the consumer societies. In the former, the seeming ambiguity or pseudo-objectivity in newspapers, literature, etc., and the relative freedom of the people‘‘s organisations to provide their own information cease to exist, giving way to overt restriction, when it is a question of television and radio, the two most important System-controlled or monopolised communications media. Last year‘‘s May events in France are quite explicit on this point. In a world where the unreal rules, artistic expression is shoved along the channels of fantasy, ction, language in code, sign language, and messages whispered between the lines. Art is cut off from the concrete facts——which, from the neocolonialist standpoint, are accusatory testimonies——to turn back on itself, strutting about in a world of abstractions and phantoms, where it becomes ‚‚timeless‘‘ and history-less. Vietnam can be mentioned, but only far from Vietnam; Latin America can be mentioned, but only far enough away from the continent to be effective, in places where it is depoliticised and where it does not lead to action. The cinema known as documentary, with all the vastness that the 47

concept has today, from educational lms to the reconstruction of a fact or a historical event, is perhaps the main basis of revolutionary lm-making. Every image that documents, bears witness to, refutes or deepens the truth of a situation is something more than a lm image or purely artistic fact; it becomes something which the System nds indigestible. Testimony about a national reality is also an inestimable means of dialogue and knowledge on the world plane. No internationalist form of struggle can be carried out successfully if there is not a mutual exchange of experiences among the people, if the people do not succeed in breaking out of the Balkanisation on the international, continental, and national planes which imperialism is striving to maintain. There is no knowledge of a reality as long as that reality is not acted upon, as long as its transformation is not begun on all fronts of struggle. The well-known quote from Marx deserves constant repetition: it is not sufcient to interpret the world; it is now a question of transforming it. With such an attitude as his starting point, it remains to the lm-maker to discover his own language, a language which will arise from a militant and transforming world-view and from the theme being dealt with. Here it may well be pointed out that certain political cadres still maintain old dogmatic positions, which ask the artist or lm-maker to provide an apologetic view of reality, one which is more in line with wishful thinking than with what actually is. Such positions, which at bottom mask a lack of condence in the possibilities of reality itself, have in certain cases led to the use of lm language as a mere idealised illustration of a fact, to the desire to remove reality‘‘s deep contradictions, its dialectic richness, which is precisely the kind of depth which can give a lm beauty and effectiveness. The reality of the revolutionary processes all over the world, in spite of their confused and negative aspects, possesses a dominant line, a synthesis which is so rich and stimulating that it does not need to be schematised with partial or sectarian views. Pamphlet lms, didactic lms, report lms, essay lms, witness-bearing lms——any militant form of expression is valid, and it would be absurd to lay down a set of aesthetic work norms. Be receptive to all that the people have to offer, and offer them the best; or, as Che put it, respect the people by giving them quality. This is a good thing to keep in mind in view of those tendencies which are always latent in the revolutionary artist to lower the level of investigation and the language of a theme, in a kind of neopopulism, down to levels which, while they may be those upon which the masses move, do not help them to get rid of the stumbling blocks left by imperialism. The effectiveness of the best lms of militant cinema show that social layers considered backward are able to capture the exact meaning of an association of images, an effect of staging, and any linguistic experimentation placed within the context of a given idea. Furthermore, revolutionary cinema is not fundamentally one which illustrates, documents, or passively establishes a situation: rather, it attempts to intervene in the situation 48

as an element providing thrust or rectication. To put it another way, it provides discovery through transformation. The differences that exist between one and another liberation process make it impossible to lay down supposedly universal norms. A cinema which in the consumer society does not attain the level of the reality in which it moves can play a stimulating role in an underdeveloped country, just as a revolutionary cinema in the neocolonial situation will not necessarily be revolutionary if it is mechanically taken to the metropolitan country. Teaching the handling of guns can be revolutionary where there are potentially or explicitly viable leaders ready to throw themselves into the struggle to take power, but ceases to be revolutionary where the masses still lack sufcient awareness of their situation or where they have already learned to handle guns. Thus, a cinema which insists upon the denunciation of the effects of neocolonial policy is caught up in a reformist game if the consciousness of the masses has already assimilated such knowledge; then the revolutionary thing is to examine the causes, to investigate the ways of organising and arming for the change. That is, imperialism can sponsor lms that ght illiteracy, and such pictures will only be inscribed within the contemporary need of imperialist policy, but, in contrast, the making of such lms in Cuba after the triumph of the Revolution was clearly revolutionary. Although their starting point was just the fact of teaching, reading and writing, they had a goal which was radically different from that of imperialism: the training of people for liberation, not for subjection. The model of the perfect work of art, the fully rounded lm structured according to the metrics imposed by bourgeois culture, its theoreticians and critics, has served to inhibit the lm-maker in the dependent countries, especially when he has attempted to erect similar models in a reality which offered him neither the culture, the techniques, nor the most primary elements for success. The culture of the metropolis kept the age-old secrets that had given life to its models; the transposition of the latter to the neocolonial reality was always a mechanism of alienation, since is was not possible for the artist of the dependent country to absorb, in a few years, the secrets of a culture and society elaborated through the centuries in completely different historical circumstances. The attempt in the sphere of lmmaking to match the pictures of the ruling countries generally ends in failure, given the existence of two disparate historical realities. And such unsuccessful attempts lead to feelings of frustration and inferiority. Both these feelings arise in the rst place from the fear of taking risks along completely new roads which are almost a total denial of ‚‚their cinema‘‘. A fear of recognising the particularities and limitations of dependency in order to discover the possibilities inherent in that situation by nding ways of overcoming it which would of necessity be original. The existence of a revolutionary cinema is inconceivable without the constant and methodical exercise of practice, search, and experimentation. It even means committing the new lm-maker to take chances on the unknown, 49

to leap into space at times, exposing himself to failure as does the guerrilla who travels along paths that he himself opens up with machete blows. The possibility of discovering and inventing lm forms and structures that serve a more profound vision of our reality resides in the ability to place oneself on the outside limits of the familiar, to make one‘‘s way amid constant dangers. Our time is one of hypothesis rather than of thesis, a time of works in progress——unnished, unordered, violent works made with the camera in one hand and a rock in the other. Such works cannot be assessed according to the traditional theoretical and critical canons. The ideas for our lm theory and criticism will come to life through inhibition-removing practice and experimentation. ‚‚Knowledge begins with practice. After acquiring theoretical knowledge through practice, it is necessary to return to practice.‘‘ (12) Once he has embarked upon this practice, the revolutionary lmmaker will have to overcome countless obstacles; he will experience the loneliness of those who aspire to the praise of the System‘‘s promotion media only to nd that those media are closed to him. As Godard would say, he will cease to be a bicycle champion to become an anonymous bicycle rider, Vietnamese-style, submerged in a cruel and prolonged war. But he will also discover that there is a receptive audience that looks upon his work as something of its own existence, and that is ready to defend him in a way that it would never do with any world bicycle champion. In this long war, with the camera as our rie, we do in fact move into a guerrilla activity. This is why the work of a lm-guerrilla group is governed by strict disciplinary norms as to both work methods and security. A revolutionary lm group is in the same situation as a guerrilla unit: it cannot grow strong without military structures and command concepts. The group exists as a network of complementary responsibilities, as the sum and synthesis of abilities, inasmuch as it operates harmonically with a leadership that centralises planning work and maintains its continuity. Experience shows that it is not easy to maintain the cohesion of a group when it is bombarded by the System and its chain of accomplices frequently disguised as ‚‚progressives‘‘, when there are no immediate and spectacular outer incentives and the members must undergo the discomforts and tensions of work that is done underground and distributed clandestinely. Many abandon their responsibilities because they underestimate them or because they measure them with values appropriate to System cinema and not underground cinema. The birth of internal conicts is a reality present in any group, whether or not it possesses ideological maturity. The lack of awareness of such an inner conict on the psychological or personality plane, etc., the lack of maturity in dealing with problems of relationships, at times leads to ill feeling and rivalries that in turn cause real clashes going beyond ideological or objective differences. All of this means that a basic condition is an awareness of the problems of interpersonal relationships, leadership and areas of competence. What is needed is to speak clearly, mark off work areas, assign responsibilities and take on the job as a rigorous militancy. 50

Guerrilla lm-making proletarianises the lm worker and breaks down the intellectual aristocracy that the bourgeoisie grants to its followers. In a word, it democratises. The lm-maker‘‘s tie with reality makes him more a part of his people. Vanguard layers and even masses participate collectively in the work when they realise that it is the continuity of their daily struggle. La hora de los hornos shows how a lm can be made in hostile circumstances when it has the support and collaboration of militants and cadres from the people. The revolutionary lm-maker acts with a radically new vision of the role of the producer, team-work, tools, details, etc. Above all, he supplies himself at all levels in order to produce his lms, he equips himself at all levels, he learns how to handle the manifold techniques of his craft. His most valuable possessions are the tools of his trade, which form part and parcel of his need to communicate. The camera is the inexhaustible expropriator of image-weapons; the projector, a gun that can shoot 24 frames per second. Each member of the group should be familiar, at least in a general way, with the equipment being used: he must be prepared to replace another in any of the phases of production. The myth of irreplaceable technicians must be exploded. The whole group must grant great importance to the minor details of the production and the security measures needed to protect it. A lack of foresight which in conventional lm-making would go unnoticed can render virtually useless weeks or months of work. And a failure in guerrilla cinema, just as in the guerrilla struggle itself, can mean the loss of a work or a complete change of plans. ‚‚In a guerrilla struggle the concept of failure is present a thousand times over, and victory a myth that only a revolutionary can dream.‘‘(13) Every member of the group must have an ability to take care of details, discipline, speed, and, above all, the willingness to overcome the weaknesses of comfort, old habits, and the whole climate of pseudonormality behind which the warfare of everyday life is hidden. Each lm is a different operation, a different job requiring variation in methods in order to confuse or refrain from alerting the enemy, especially since the processing laboratories are still in his hands. The success of the work depends to a great extent on the group‘‘s ability to remain silent, on its permanent wariness, a condition that is difcult to achieve in a situation in which apparently nothing is happening and the lm-maker has been accustomed to telling all and sundry about everything that he‘‘s doing because the bourgeoisie has trained him precisely on such a basis of prestige and promotion. The watchwords ‚‚constant vigilance, constant wariness, constant mobility‘‘ have profound validity for guerrilla cinema. You have to give the appearance of working on various projects, split up the material, put it together, take it apart, confuse, neutralise, and throw off the track. All of this is necessary as long as the group doesn‘‘t have its own processing equipment, no matter how rudimentary, and there remain certain possibilities in the traditional laboratories. Group-level co-operation between different countries can serve to assure 51

the completion of a lm or the execution of certain phases of work that may not be possible in the country of origin. To this should be added the need for a ling centre for materials to be used by the different groups and the perspective of coordination, on a continent-wide or even worldwide scale, of the continuity of work in each country: periodic regional or international gatherings to exchange experience, contributions, joint planning of work, etc. At least in the earliest stages the revolutionary lm-maker and the work groups will be the sole producers of their lms. They must bear the responsibility of nding ways to facilitate the continuity of work. Guerrilla cinema still doesn‘‘t have enough experience to set down standards in this area; what experience there is has shown, above all, the ability to make use of the concrete situation of each country. But, regardless of what these situations may be, the preparation of a lm cannot be undertaken without a parallel study of its future audience and, consequently, a plan to recover the nancial investment. Here, once again, the need arises for closer ties between political and artistic vanguards, since this also serves for the joint study of forms of production, exhibition, and continuity. A guerrilla lm can be aimed only at the distribution mechanisms provided by the revolutionary organisations, including those invented or discovered by the lm-maker themselves. Production, distribution, and economic possibilities for survival must form part of a single strategy. The solution of the problems faced in each of these areas will encourage other people to join in the work of guerrilla lm-making, which will enlarge its ranks and thus make it less vulnerable. The distribution of guerrilla lms in Latin America is still in swaddling clothes while System reprisals are already a legalised fact. Sufce it to note in Argentina the raids that have occurred during some showings and the recent lm suppression law of a clearly fascist character; in Brazil the ever-increasing restrictions placed upon the most militant comrades of Cinema Novo; and in Venezuela the banning of La hora de los hornos; over almost all the continent censorship prevents any possibility of public distribution. Without revolutionary lms and a public that asks for them, any attempt to open up new ways of distribution would be doomed to failure. But both of these already exist in Latin America. The appearance of the lms opened up a road which in some countries, such as Argentina, occurs through showings in apartments and houses to audiences of never more than 25 people; in other countries, such as Chile, lms are shown in parishes, universities, or cultural centres (of which there are fewer every day); and, in the case of Uruguay, showings were given in Montevideo‘‘s biggest movie theatre to an audience of 2,500 people, who lled the theatre and made every showing an impassioned anti-imperialist event. But the prospects on the continental plane indicate that the possibility for the continuity of a revolutionary cinema rests upon the strengthening of rigorously underground base structures. Practice implies mistakes and failures.(14) Some comrades will let themselves be carried away by the success and impunity with which they present 52

the rst showings and will tend to relax security measures, while others will go in the opposite direction of excessive precautions or fearfulness, to such an extent that distribution remains circumscribed, limited to a few groups of friends. Only concrete experience in each country will demonstrate which are the best methods there, which do not always lend themselves to application in other situations. In some places it will be possible to build infrastructures connected to political, student, worker, and other organisations, while in others it will be more suitable to sell prints to organisations which will take charge of obtaining the funds necessary to pay for each print (the cost of the print plus a small margin). This method, wherever possible, would appear to be the most viable, because it permits the decentralisation of distribution; makes possible a more profound political use of the lm; and permits the recovery, through the sale of more prints, of the funds invested in the production. It is true that in many countries the organisations still are not fully aware of the importance of this work, or, if they are, may lack the means to undertake it. In such cases other methods can be used: the delivery of prints to encourage distribution and a box-ofce cut to the organisers of each showing, etc. The ideal goal to be achieved would be producing and distributing guerrilla lms with funds obtained from expropriations from the bourgeoisie—— that is, the bourgeoisie would be nancing guerrilla cinema with a bit of the surplus value that it gets from the people. But, as long as the goal is no more than a middle- or long-range aspiration, the alternatives open to revolutionary cinema to recover production and distribution costs are to some extent similar to those obtained for conventional cinema: every spectator should pay the same amount as he pays to see System cinema. Financing, subsidising, equipping, and supporting revolutionary cinema are political responsibiities for revolutionary organisations and militants. A lm can be made, but if its distribution does not allow for the recovery of the costs, it will be difcult or impossible to make a second lm. The 16mm lm circuits in Europe (20,000 exhibition centres in Sweden, 30,000 in France, etc.) are not the best example for the neocolonialised countries, but they are nevertheless a complementary source for fund raising, especially in a situation in which such circuits can play an important role in publicising the struggles in the Third World, increasingly related as they are to those unfolding in the metropolitan countries. A lm on the Venezuelan guerrillas will say more to a European public than twenty explanatory pamphlets, and the same is true for us with a lm on the May events in France or the Berkeley, USA, student struggle. A Guerrilla Films International? And why not? Isn‘‘t it true that a kind of new International is arising through the Third World struggles; through OSPAAAL(15) and the revolutionary vanguards of the consumer societies? A guerrilla cinema, at this stage still within the reach of limited layers of the population, is, nevertheless, the only cinema of the masses possible today, since it is the only one involved with the interests, aspirations, and prospects of the vast majority of the people. Every important lm produced by a revolutionary cinema will be, explicitly, or not, a national event of the masses. 53

This cinema of the masses, which is prevented from reaching beyond the sectors representing the masses, provokes with each showing, as in a revolutionary military incursion, a liberated space, a decolonised territory. The showing can be turned into a kind of political event, which, according to Fanon, could be ‚‚a liturgical act, a privileged occasion for human beings to hear and be heard.‘‘ Militant cinema must be able to extract the innity of new possibilities that open up for it from the conditions of proscription imposed by the System. The attempt to overcome neocolonial oppression calls for the invention of forms of communication; it opens up the possibility. Before and during the making of La hora de los hornos we tried out various methods for the distribution of revolutionary cinema——the little that we had made up to then. Each showing for militants, middlelevel cadres, activists, workers, and university students became——without our having set ourselves this aim beforehand——a kind of enlarged cell meeting of which the lms were a part but not the most important factor. We thus discovered a new facet of cinema: the participation of people who, until then, were considered spectators. At times, security reasons obliged us to try to dissolve the group of participants as soon as the showing was over, and we realised that the distribution of that kind of lm had little meaning if it was not complemented by the participation of the comrades, if a debate was not opened on the themes suggested by the lms. We also discovered that every comrade who attended such showings did so with full awareness that he was infringing the System‘‘s laws and exposing his personal security to eventual repression. This person was no longer a spectator; on the contrary, from the moment he decided to attend the showing, from the moment he lined himself up on this side by taking risks and contributing his living experience to the meeting, he became an actor, a more important protagonist than those who appeared in the lms. Such a person was seeking other committed people like himself, while he, in turn, became committed to them. The spectator made way for the actor, who sought himself in others. Outside this space which the lms momentarily helped to liberate, there was nothing but solitude, noncommunication, distrust, and fear; within the freed space the situation turned everyone into accomplices of the act that was unfolding. The debates arose spontaneously. As we gained inexperience, we incorporated into the showing various elements (a mise en scene) to reinforce the themes of the lms, the climate of the showing, the ‚‚disinhibiting‘‘ of the participants, and the dialogue: recorded music or poems, sculpture and paintings, posters, a programme director who chaired the debate and presented the lm and the comrades who were speaking, a glass of wine, a few mates,(16) etc. We realised that we had at hand three very valuable factors: 1) The participant comrade, the man-actor-accomplice who responded to the summons; 2) The free space where that man expressed his concerns and ideas, became politicised, and started to free himself; and 54

3) The lm, important only as a detonator or pretext. We concluded from these data that a lm could be much more effective if it were fully aware of these factors and took on the task of subordinating its own form, structure, language, and propositions to that act and to those actors-to put it another way, if it sought its own liberation in its subordination to and insertion in others, the principal protagonists of life. With the correct utilisation of the time that that group of actorpersonages offered us with their diverse histories, the use of the space offered by certain comrades, and of the lms themselves, it was necessary to try to transform time, energy, and work into freedom-giving energy. In this way the idea began to grow of structuring what we decided to call the lm act, the lm action, one of the forms which we believe assumes great importance in afrming the line of a third cinema. A cinema whose rst experiment is to be found, perhaps on a rather shaky level, in the second and third parts of La hora de los hornos (‚‚Acto para la liberacion‘‘; above all, starting with ‚‚La resistencia‘‘ and ‚‚Violencia y liberacion‘‘). Comrades [we said at the start of ‚‚Acto para la liberacion‘‘], this is not just a lm showing, nor is it a show; rather, it is, above all A MEETING——an act of anti-imperialist unity; this is a place only for those who feel identied with this struggle, because here there is no room for spectators or for accomplices of the enemy; here there is room only for the authors and protagonists of the process which the lm attempts to bear witness to and to deepen. The lm is the pretext for dialogue, for the seeking and nding of wills. It is a report that we place before you for your consideration, to be debated after the showing. The conclusions [we said at another point in the second part] at which you may arrive as the real authors and protagonists of this history are important. The experiences and conclusions that we have assembled have a relative worth; they are of use to the extent that they are useful to you, who are the present and future of liberation. But most important of all is the action that may arise from these conclusions, the unity on the basis of the facts. This is why the lm stops here; it opens out to you so that you can continue it.] The lm act means an open-ended lm; it is essentially a way of learning. The rst step in the process of knowledge is the rst contact with the things of the outside world, the stage of sensations [in a lm the living fresco of image and sound]. The second step is the synthesising of the data provided by the sensations; their ordering and elaboration; the stage of 55

concepts, judgements, opinions, and deductions [in the lm the announcer, the reportings, the didactics, or the narrator who leads the projection act]. And then comes the third stage, that of knowledge. The active role of knowledge is expressed not only in the active leap from sensory to rational knowledge, but, and what is even more important, in the leap from rational knowledge to revolutionary practice . . . The practice of the transformation of the world ... This, in general terms, is the dialectical materialist theory of the unity of knowledge and action(17) [in the projection of the lm act, the participation of the comrades, the action proposals that arise, and the actions themselves that will take place later]. Moreover, each projection of a lm act presupposes a different setting, since the space where it takes place, the materials that go to make it up (actorsparticipants), and the historic time in which it takes place are never the same. This means that the result of each projection act will depend on those who organise it, on those who participate in it, and on the time and place; the possibility of introducing variations, additions, and changes is unlimited. The screening of a lm act will always express in one way or another the historical situation in which it takes place; its perspectives are not exhausted in the struggle for power but will instead continue after the taking of power to strengthen the revolution. The man of the third cinema, be it guerrilla cinema or a lm act, with the innite categories that they contain (lm letter, lm poem, lm essay, lm pamphlet, lm report, etc.), above all counters the lm industry of a cinema of characters with one of themes, that of individuals with that of masses, that of the author with that of the operative group, one of neocolonial misinformation with one of information, one of escape with one that recaptures the truth, that of passivity with that of aggressions. To an institutionalised cinema, it counterposes a guerrilla cinema; to movies as shows, it opposes a lm act or action; to a cinema of destruction, one that is both destructive and constructive; to a cinema made for the old kind of human being, for them, it opposes a cinema t for a new kind of human being, for what each one of us has the possibility of becoming. The decolonisation of the lm-maker and of lms will be simultaneous acts to the extent that each contributes to collective decolonisation. The battle begins without, against the enemy who attacks us, but also within, against the ideas and models of the enemy to be found inside each one of us. Destruction and construction. Decolonising action rescues with its practice the purest and most vital impulses. It opposes to the colonialisation of minds the revolution of consciousness. The world is scrutinised, unravelled, rediscovered. People are witness to a constant astonishment, a kind of second birth. They recover their early simplicity, their capacity for adventure; their lethargic capacity for indignation comes to life. Freeing a forbidden truth means setting free the possibility of indignation 56

and subversion. Our truth, that of the new man who builds himself by getting rid of all the defects that still weigh him down, is a bomb of inexhaustible power and, at the same time, the only real possibility of life. Within this attempt, the revolutionary lm-maker ventures with his subversive observation, sensibility, imagination, and realisation. The great themes——the history of the country, love and unlove between combatants, the efforts of a people who are awakening——all this is reborn before the lens of the decolonised camera. The lm-maker feels for the rst time. He discovers that, within the System, nothing ts, while outside of and against the System, everything ts, because everything remains to be done. What appeared yesterday as a preposterous adventure, as we said at the beginning, is posed today as an inescapable need and possibility. Thus far, we have offered ideas and working propositions, which are the sketch of a hypothesis arising from our personal experience and which will have achieved something positive even if they do no more than serve to open a heated dialogue on the new revolutionary lm prospects. The vacuums existing in the artistic and scientic fronts of the revolution are sufciently well known so that the adversary will not try to appropriate them, while we are still unable to do so. Why lms and not some other form of artistic communication? If we choose lms as the centre of our propositions and debate, it is because that is our work front and because the birth of a third cinema means, at least for us, the most important revolutionary artistic event of our times. (translation from Cineaste revised by Julianne Burton and Editor) (1) The Hour of the Furnaces ‚‚Neocolonialism and Violence‘‘ (2) Juan Jose Hernandez Arregui, Imperialism and Culture (3) Rene Zavaleta Mercado, Bolivia: Growth of the National Concept (4) The Hour of the Furnaces, ibid. (5) ibid (6) Observe the new custom of some groups of the upper bourgeoisie from Rome and Paris who spend their weekends travelling to Saigon to get a close-up view of the Vietcong offensive. (7) Irwin Silber, ‚‚USA: The Alienation of Culture,‘‘ Tricontinental 10. (8) The organisation Vanguard Artists of Argentina. (9) The Hour of the Furnaces, ibid. (10) Mao Tse-tung, On Practice (11) Rodolfo Puigross, The Proletariat and National Revolution (12) Mao Tng, op. Cit. (13) Che Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare (14) The raiding of a Buenos Aires union and the arrest of dozens of persons resulting from a bad choice of projection site and the large number of people invited. (15) The Organisation for the Solidarity of African, Asian and Latin American Peoples, based in Cuba. (16) A traditional Argentine herb tea, hierba mate. (17) Mao Tse-tung, op. cit. 57

Vincent Canby ARGENTINE EPIC (26 February 1971) La Hora de Los Hornos (The Hour of the Furnaces) is a three-part, four-hour and 20-minute, political documentary lm, directed (as well as photographed and written in part) by Fernando Ezequiel Solanas, a young Argentine lmmaker who has committed himself to the cause of violent revolution as the only means to true liberation and the establishment of a national Argentine consciousness. On the basis of the 90-minute Part One, subtitled "Neocolonialism and Violence," the work might well turn out to be a polemical epic, an essay lm of a political, cinematic and psychological complexity unlike anything I‘‘ve ever seen. For reasons I do not know, Solanas has allowed only Part One to be released for commercial distribution here, although the entire lm has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art and is available for 16 mm. showings by lm societies, universities and such. It has also been widely screened in Europe but, understandably, only privately in Argentina. Part One opened here yesterday at the New Yorker Theater on a program with Joseph Strick‘‘s 22-minute Interviews with Mylai Veterans, which has been nominated for an Academy Award. As its title implies, the lm is a series of interviews with ve enlisted men who participated in the Mylai action and all of whom are now out of the Army. The effect of the testimony——rueful, matter-offact, unsentimental, a lot of it smiling (at the interviewer and at the fact of being interviewed, rather than at the subject)——is terrifying, and almost indescribably sad. Because no movie genre makes quite as personal demands on the viewer as the political documentary, or plays on his prejudices with such accuracy, perhaps I should explain something of my own experiences, which, of course, I took with me when I entered the theater to see The Hour of the Furnaces. I‘‘m no student of either Argentina or Latin America, and just about everything I know of them is the more or less chance result of several short visits to Argentina in the early 1960‘‘s. First of all there was, for me, each time I arrived in Buenos Aires international airport, the feeling that I‘‘d arrived at the end of the line, if not the world. Although the airport services the largest city in South America, and is modern and efcient and handsome, it seems——as Solanas says of Buenos Aires itself——to have "turned its back on the country." It faces north and east and west, but not south, and if one had wanted to go to Tierra del Fuego, or even Córdoba, one had to go to another airport. Seen from the perspective of either British Empire or United States hegemony, Argentina is, quite literally, as far away as you can get, the last stop before the South Pole, a fact that has shaped a kind of national inferiority 58

complex——political, cultural and economic. It has set out to demonstrate that being Argentine, as well as Latin American, can be beautiful. La Hora de Los Homos, Part One, is a cool but furious examination of rst the British and then the American neocolonialism that, according to Solanas, had as its aim the "Balkanization" of Latin America for economic exploitation. Here is no unbiased report, but a vivid, angry, indoctrination lesson, sometimes crude but always cinematic, that has the look of the kind of documentary lm Godard might make if he opted to play on the bourgeois emotions he now scorns. The lm employs old prints, newsreels and interviews, as well as clips from the work of Joris Ivens and Fernando Birri (the only other young Argentine lmmaker I know who shares, with Solanas, an authentic Argentine vision). On the soundtrack there are lengthy quotations from Sartre and Fanon, slogans, and masses of facts, none of which I can easily authenticate. Some of Solanas‘‘s juxtapositions are so obvious they are unworthy of the quality of the passion of the lm that contains them. Mostly, however, the images, the editing and the sound track are ne, even witty, as in the section on the Argentine aristocracy, dened by its grandiose cemetery that looks like Washington‘‘s Resurrection City, sculptured in marble. The aristocrats, he notes, "take the past as [if it were] a future." I nd difcult (and depressing) Solanas‘‘s conclusions in favor of Perónism, which he describes as the rst popular expression of Argentina‘‘s national consciousness, and suspect that, in the style of other contemporary revolutionaries, he may well feel that the past can be rewritten, through re-evaluation, according to the needs of the present. Solanas‘‘s conclusions thus escape me; his arguments do not. La Hora de Los Hornos, Part One, is, most importantly, a unique lm exploration of a nation‘‘s soul. It‘‘s full of tremendous vigor, unlike the tired Buenos Aires dinner party at which the hostess, before introducing me, gave me quick sketches of everyone in the room. "Over there," she said, pointing to a handsome, morose man, who seemed to be getting quite drunk, "is José. . . . Poor José. He always wanted to be the Minister of War. In the last regime, he was——for three weeks. Now he has nothing to look forward to." Eduardo Galeano THE TRAGEDY HAD BEEN A TRUE PROPHECY (1978) -1In mid-1973 Juan Domingo Peron returned to Argentina after eighteen years of exile. 59

It was the largest political demonstration in the entire history of Latin America. In the elds near Ezeiza airport and all along the highway, more than two million people had gathered, with children and drums and guitars, from all parts of the country. The people, with long-lasting patience and an iron will, had recovered their caudillo and they returned him to his land with a royal welcome. The mood was festive. The people’’s happiness, contagious beauty, embraced me, lifted me up, gave me faith. My eyes still retained the image of the Broad Front’’s torches as they weaved along the avenues of Montevideo. Now, in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, gathered together in a gigantic, borderless campsite, were the older workers for whom Peronism was a vivid memory of dignity, and the young people, who had not lived through the experiences of 1946 and 1955, and for whom Peronism was constructed more out of hope than nostalgia. The party ended in a massacre. At Ezeiza, in one afternoon, more Peronists were killed than during the years of resistance against the previous military dictatorships. "And now, who should we hate?”” asked the stupeed people. The ambush had been planned by Peronists against Peronists. Peronism had its tyrants and its Trojans, its workers and its bosses; and within this scenario real history unfolded as a continuous contradiction. The union bureaycrats, and political bosses, and the agents of those in power had revealed their bankruptcy in the elds near Ezeiza. Like the king in the story, they appeared naked before the public eye. The professional killers then stepped in to take the place of the people. The merchants, briey expelled from the temple, reentered through the rear door. What happened at Ezeiza was a preview of what would come later. The government of Hector Campora was short-lived as a lily. After that, the promises lagged behind reality, until they dropped out of sight altogether. Sad epilogue to a popular movement. "God has prestige because he shows so little of himself,”” Peron had told me, years before in Madrid. Salaries increased, but this just proved that the workers were responsible for the crisis. A cow soon was worth less than a pair of shoes. And while the small and medium-sized manufacturers went under, the oligarchy, undefeated displayed itself in rags and gave vent to its anger through the newspapers, radio, and television. The agrarian reform proved to be worth less than the paper on which it was written, and the loopholes remained open through which the wealth generated by the country could——and still does——drain out. Those in power in Argentina, as all over Latin America, tuck their fortunes safely away in Zurich or New York. There the money performs a circus trick, returning to the country magically converted into very expensive international loans. -2Can national unity be obtained above, though, and despite the class 60

struggle? Peron had given body to this collective illusion. One morning, during the rst days of exile, the caudillo had explained to his host in Asuncion, Paraguay, the political importance of the smile. "Do you want to see my smile?”” he had asked. And he put his false teeth in the palm of his hand. During the course of eighteen years, for or against him, Argentine politics revolved around this man. The successive military coups were no more than tributes which fear paid to the truth: given free elections, Peronism would win. Everything depended on Peron’’s blessings and curses, thumbs up, thumbs down, and from the letters he wrote from far away, with the left hand or with the right, giving ever contradictory orders to the men who risked their lives. In Madrid in the fall of 1966 Peron told me: "Do you know how the Chinese kill sparrows? They don’’t let them rest on tree branches. They harass them with sticks and don’’t let them land, until the birds die in the air; their hearts give out, and they fall to the ground. Traitors y like sparrows, It’’s enough to harass them, to prevent them from resting, to bring them down, No, No…… To lead men you have to y like an eagle, not a sparrow. Leading men is a technique, an art. It requires military precision. You have to let the traitors y, but without letting them rest. And wait for Providence to do its work. You must let Providence act…… Especially because I control Providence.”” When the time came, when Peronism returned to power, it fell to pieces. It disintegrated slowly before the caudillo died. -3Jose Luis Nell was one of the victims of the Ezeiza massacre. A bullet shattered his spinal column. He was paralyzed. One day he decided to put an end to the impotence and the pity. He picked the date and the place: an overpass at a train station where no trains passed. Someone took him there in his wheelchair and placed the loaded pistol in his hand. Jose Luis had been an iron-willed militant. He had survived bullets and jails and the years of hunger and clandestinity. But now he put the barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger.


Robert Stam THE HOUR OF THE FURNACES AND THE TWO AVANT-GARDES (1980) The struggle to seize power from the enemy is the meeting-ground of the political and artistic vanguards engaged in a common task which is enriching to both. ——Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino in "Toward a Third Cinema." If there are two avant-gardes——the formal and the theoretico-political——then La hora de los hornos (The Hour of the Furnaces), 1968, surely marks one of the high points of their convergence. Fusing third-world radicalism with artistic innovation, the Solanas-Getino lm revives the historical sense of avant-garde as connoting political as well as cultural militancy. It teases to the surface the military metaphor submerged in the very expression "avant-garde"——the image of an advanced contingent reconnoitering unexplored and dangerous territory. It resuscitates the venerable analogy (at least as old as Marey’’s "fusil photographique") of camera and gun, charging it with a precise revolutionary signication. Art becomes, as Walter Benjamin said of the Dadaists, "an instrument of ballistics." At the same time, La hora’’s experimental language is indissolubly wedded to its political project; the articulation of one with the other generates the lm’’s meaning and secures it relevance. It is in this exemplary two-fronted struggle, rather than in the historical specicity of its politics, that La hora retains vitality as a model for cinematic practice. Events subsequent to 1968 have, if not wholly discredited, at least relativized the lm’’s analysis. Unmoored and set adrift on the currents of history, La hora has been severed from its original context, as its authors have been exiled from their country. The late sixties were, virtually everywhere, the hour of the furnaces, and La hora, quintessential product of the period, forged the incandescent expression of their glow. Tricontinental revolution, under the symbolic aegis of Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, and Ho Chi Minh, was deemed imminent, waiting to surprise us around the next bend of the dialecctic. But despite salient victories (Vietnam, Mozambique, Nicaragua), many ames have dwindled into embers, as some of the Third World has settled into the era of diminished expectations. In most of South America, the CIA, multinational corporations, and native ruling elites conspired to install what Noam Chomsky calls "sub-fascist" regimes, i.e., regimes whose politics and practices are fascist but who lack any popular base. In Argentina, class struggle in a relatively liberal context gave way to virtual civil war. Peron——the last hope of the revolutionaries and the bourgeoisie——returned, but only to die. His political heirs veered rightward, defying the hopes of those who returned him to power, until a putsch installed a quasi-fascist regime. Rather than being surprised by revolution, Argentina, and La hora with it, was ambushed by an 62

historical equivocation. La hora is structured as a tripartite political essay. The rst section, "Neocolonialism and Violence," situates Argentina internationally, revealing it as a palimpsest of European inuences: "British gold, Italian hands, French books." A series of "Notes"——"The Daily Violence," "The Oligarchy," "Dependency"—— explore the variegated forms of neocolonial oppression. The second section, "An Act for Liberation," is subdivided into "A Chronicle of Peronism," covering Peron’’s rule from 1945 through his deposition by coup in 1955, and "Chronicle of Resistance," detailing the opposition struggle during the period of Peron’’s exicle. The third section, "Violence and Liberation," consists of an open-ended series of interviews, documents and testimonials concerning the best path to a revolutionary future for Latin America. Much of this section is taken up by two interviews, one with an octogenarian, oral archivist of the national memory of resistance, who recounts past combats and predicts imminent socialist revolution, the other with labor organizer Julio Troxler, then living and working underground, who describes mass executions and vows struggle until victory. While reawakening the military metaphor dormant in "avant-garde," La hora also literalizes the notion of the "underground." Filmed clandestinely in conjunction with militant cadres, it was made in the interstices of the system and against the system. It situates itself on the periphery of the periphery——a kind of off-off-Hollywood——and brashly disputes the hegemony of both the dominant model ("First Cinema") and Auterism ("Second Cinema"), proposing instead a "Third Cinema," independent in production, militant in politics, and experimental in language.1 As a poetic celebration of the Argentine nation, it is "epic" in the classical as well as the Brechtian sense, weaving disparate materials——newsreels, eyewitness reports, TV commericals, photographs——into a splended historical tapestry. A cinematic summa, with strategies ranging from straightforward didacticism to operatic stylization, borrowing from avant-garde and mainstream, ction and documentary, cinema verite and advertising, it inherits and prolongs the work of Eisenstein, Vertov, Joris Ivens, Glauber Rocha, Fernando Birri, Resnais, Bunuel and Godard. La hora’’s most striking feature is its openness. But whereas "openness" in art usually evokes plurisignication, polysemy, the authorization of a plurality of equally legitimate readings, the Solanas-Getino lm is not open in this sense: its messages are stridently unequivocal. Its ambiguities, such as they are, derive more from the vicissitudes of history than from the intentions of its authors. The lm’’s openness lies elsewhere, and rst of all in its process of production. Coming from the traditional Europeanized left, Solanas and Getino set out to make a sociallyminded short documentary about the working class in Argentina. Through the lmmaking experience, however, they evolved toward a left Peronist position. The production process, in other words, inected their own ideological trajectory in ways that they themselves could not have fully predicted. (One need not endorse the specic nature of this inection to appreciate the fact of the inection.) Once 63

aware of the tenuous nature of their initial "certainties," they opened their project to the criticism and suggetions of the working class. As a result, the lm underwent a process of constant mutation, not because of authorial whims (a la 8½) but under the pressure of proletarian critique. Rather than performing the "mis-enscene" of preconceived opinions, the lm’’s making entailed inquiry and search. The reformist short became a revolutionary manifesto.2 La hora is open, secondly, in its very structure as a text, operating by what might be called tendentiously aleatory procedures.3 At key points, the lm raises questions——"Why did Peron fall without a struggle? Should he have armed the people?"——and proposes that the audience debate them, interrupting the projection to allow for discussion. Elsewhere, the authors appeal for supplementary material on the theme of violence and liberation, soliciting collaboration in the lm’’s writing. The "end" of the lm refuses closure by inviting the audience to prolong the text: "Now it is up to you to draw conclusions, to continue the lm. You have the oor." This challenge, more than rhetorical, was concretely taken up by Argentine audiences, at least until the experiment was cut short by military rule. Cine-semiologists dene the cinema as a system of signication rather than communication, arguing that the gap between the reception and the production of an answering message, allows only for deferred communication. La hora, by opening itself up to person-to-person debate, tests and "stretches" this denition to its very limits. In a provocative amalgam of cinema/theater/political rally, it joins the space of representation to the space of the spectator, thus making "real" and immediate communication possible. The passive cinematic experience, that rendez-vous manque between exhibitionist and voyeur, is transformed into a "theatrical" encounter between human beings present in the esh. The twodimensional space of the screen gives way to the three-dimensional space of theater and politics. The lm mobilizes, fostering motor and mental activity rather than self-indulgent fantasy. Rather than vibrate to the sensibility of an Auteur, the spectators become the authors of their own destiny. Rather than a mass hero on the screen, the protagonists of history are in the audience. Rather than a woman to regress in, the cinema becomes a political stage on which to act. Brecht contrasted artistic innovation easily absorbed by the appratus with the kind which threatens its very existence. La hora wards off cooptation by a stance of radical interventionism. Rather than being hermetically sealed off from life, the text is permeable to history and praxis, calling for accomplices rather than consumers. The three major sections begin with ouvertures——orchestrated quotations, slogans, rallying cries——which suggest that the spectators have come not to enjoy a show but to participate in an action. Each screening is meant to create what the authors call a "liberated space, a decolonized territory." Because of this activist stance, La hora was dangerous to make, to distribute, and, not infrequently, to see. When a repressive situation makes lmgoing a clandestine activity punishable by prison or torture, the mere act of viewing comes to entail 64

political commitment. Cinephilia, at times a surrogate for political action in the United States and Europe, became in Argentina a life-endangering form of praxis, placing the spectator in a boobytrapped space of political commitment. Instead of the mere recracker-under-the-seats of the Dadaists, the spectator was faced with the distant possibility of machine-gun re in the cinema. All the celebrated "attacks on the voyerism of the spectator" pale in violence next to this threatened initiation into political brutality. In its frontal assault on passivity, La hora deploys a number of textual strategies. The spoken and written commentary, addressed directly to the spectator, fosters a discursive relationship, the I-You of discours rather than the He-She voyeurism of histoire. The language, furthermore, is unabashedly partisan, eschewing all factitious "objectivity." Diverse classes, the lm reminds us, speak divergent languages. The 1955 putsch, for the elite, is a "liberating revolution, " for the people, "the gorilla coup." Everything in the lm, from the initial dedication to Che Guevara through the nal exhortation to action, obeys the Brechtian injunction to "divide the audience," forcing the audience to "take sides." The Argentine intellectual must decide to be with the Peronist masses or against them. The American must reject the prhase "Yankee imperialism" or acknowledge that it corresponds, on some level, to the truth. At times, the call for commitment reaches discomforting extremes for the spectator hoping for a warm bath of escapism. Quoting Fanon’’s "all spectators are cowards or traitors" (neither option atters), the m calls at times for virtual readiness for martyrdom——"To choose one’’s death is to choose one’’s life"——at which point the lukewarm entertainment-seeker might feel that the demands for commitment have escalated unaceptably. La hora alsho short-circuits passivity by making intense intellectual demands. The written titles and spoken commentary taken together form a more or less continuous essay, one which ranks in rhetorical power with those of the authors it cites——Fanon, Cesaire, Sartre. At once broadly discursive and vividly imagistic, abstract and concrete, this essay-text, rather than simply commenting on the images, organizes them and provides their principle of coherence. The essay constitutes the lm’’s control-center, its brain. The images take on meaning in relation to it rather than the reverse. During prolonged periods, the screening because an audio-visual blackboard and the spectator a reader of text. The staccato intercutting of black frames and incedniary titles generates a dynamic cine-ecriture; the lm writes itself. Vertovian titles explode around the screen, rushing toward and retreating from the spectator, their graphic presentation often mimicking their signication. The word "liberation," for example, proliferates and multiples, in striking visual and kinetic reminscence of Che’’s call for "two, three, many Vietnams." At other times, in a rude challenge to the sacrosanct "primacy of the visual," the screen remians blank while a disembodied voice addresses us in the darkness. The commentary participates mightily in the lm’’s work of demystication. As the caption, for Walter Benjamin, could tear photography away 65

from fashionaly cliches and grant it "revolutionary use-value," so the commentary shatters the ofcial image of events. An idealized painting celebrating Argentine political independence is undercut by the off-screen account of the nancial deals which betrayed economic independence. Formal sovereignty is exposed as the façade masking the realities of material subjugation. Shots of the bustling, prosperous port of Buenos Aires, similarly, are accompanied by an analysis of a general systematic poverty: "What characterizes Latin American countries is, rst of all, their dependence——economic dependence, political dependence, cultural dependence." The spectator is taught to distrust images, or better, to see through them to their underlying structures. The lm strives to enable the spectator to penetratre the veil of appearances, to dispel the mists of ideology through an act of revolutionary decoding. Much of La hora’’s persuasive power derives from its ability to render ideas visual. Abstract concepts are given clear and accessible form. The sociological abstraction "oligarchy" is concretized by shots of the "fty families" that monopolize much of Argentina’’s wealth. "Here they are……" says the text; the "oligarchy" comes into focus as the actual faces of real people, recognizable and accountable. "Class society" becomes the image ("quoted" from Birri’’s Tire Die) of desperate child begards running alongside trains in hope of a few pennies from blasé passengers. "Systematic violence" is rendered by images of the state’’s apparatus of repression——prisons, armored trucks, bombers. The title "No Social Order Commits Suicide" yields to four quick-cut shots of the military. Cesaire’’s depiction of the colonized——"Dispossessed, Marginalized, Condemned"——gives way to shots of workers, up against the wall, undergoing police interrogation. Thus La hora engraves ideas on the mind of the spectator. The images do not explode harmlessly, dissipating their energy. They fuse with ideas in order to detonate in the minds of the audience. Parody and satire form part of the strategic arsenal of La hora de los hornos. One sequence, a sight-seeing excursion through Buenos Aires, compares in irreverence to Bunuel’’s sardonic tour of Rome in L’’Age d’’Or. The images are those customary in travelogues——government buildings, monuments, busy thoroughfares——but the accompanying text is dipped in acid. Rather than exalt the cosmopolitan charm of the bustling energy of Buenos Aires, the commentary disengages its class structure: the highly-placed comprador bourgeoisie, the middleclass ("eternal in-betweens, both protected and used by the oligarchy") and the petite bourgeoisie, "eternal crybabies, for whom change is necessary, but impossible." Monuments, symbols of national pride, are treated as petried emblems of servility. As the camera zooms out from an equestrian statue of one of Argentina’’s founding fathers (Carlos de Alvear), an off-screen voice ironizes: "Here monuments are erected to the man who said: ‚‚These provinces want to belong to Great Britain, to accept its laws, obey its government, live under its powerful inuence‘‘." Satiric vignettes pinpoint the reactionary nostalgia of the Argentine 66

ruling class. We see them in an antique car acting out their fantasy of la belle epoque. We see "La Recoleta," their cemetery, baroque testimonial to an atrophied way of life, where the oligarchy tries to "freeze time" and "crystallize history." Just as Vertov destroys (via split screen) the Bolshoi Theater in Man with the Movie Camera, Solanas-Getino annhilate the cemetery’’s neoclassical statues, creating a competely articial time and space. The statue’’s "dialogue" in shot/reaction shot to the music of an Argentine opera whose words ("I shall bring down the rebel ag in blood") remind us of the aristocracy’’s historical capacity for savage repression. Still another vignette pictures the oligarchy at its annual cattle show in Buenos Aires. The sequence interweaves shots of the crowned heads of the prize bulls with the faces of the aristocracy. The bulls——inert, sluggish, well pedigreed—— present a perfect analogue to the oligarchs that breed them. Metonymic contiguity coincides with metaphoric transfer as the auctioneer’’s phrase describing the bulls ("admire the expression, the bone structure") are yolked, in a stunning cinematic xeugma, to the looks of bovine self-satisfaction on the faces of their owners. On occasion, Soalans-Getino enlist the unwitting cooperation of their satiric targets by having ruling-class gures condemn themselves by their own discourse. Newsreel footage shows an Argentine writer, surrounded by jewelryladen dowagers, at an ofcial reception, as a parodic off-screen voice sets the tone: "And now let’’s go to the Pepsi Cola Salon, where Manuel Mujica Lainez, member of the Argentine Academy of Letters, is presenting his latest book Royal Chronicles." Lainez then boasts, in non-synchronous sound, of his international prizes, his European formation, his "deep sympathy for the Elizabethan spirit." No professional actor could better incarnate the intellectual bankruptcy of the elite, with the fossilized attitudes, its nostalgia for Europe, its hand-me-down culture, and its snide ingratitude toward the country and people that made possible its privileges. Recorded noises and music also play a discursive and demysticatory role. The sound of a time clock punctuates shots of workers hurrying to their jobs, an aural reminder of the daily violence of "wage slavery." Godardian frontal shots of ofce buildings with their abstric geometricality are superimposed with sirens; innocuous images take on overtones of urban anxiety. A veritable compendium of musical styles——tango, opera, pop——make mordant comment on the image. A segment on cultural colonialism has Ray Charles singing "I don’’t need a doctor" as a pop-music junkie nods his head in rhythm in a Bueno Aires record store. A medley of national and party anthems ("La Marseillaise," "The International") lampoons the European allegiances to the traditional left parties. And one of the most poignantly telling sequences shows a small-town prostitute, pubic hair exosed, eating lunch while sad-looking men wait in line for her favors. The musical accompaniment (the patriotic "ag-raising" song) suggests that Argentina has been reduced to exactly this——a hungry prostitute with her joyless clientele. Solanas-Getino prolong and critically reelaborate the avant-garde heritage. One sequence fuses Eisenstein with Warhol by intercutting scenes from a 67

slaughterhouse with pop-culture advertising icons. The sequence obviously quotes Eisenstein’’s celebrated non-diegetic metaphor in Strike, but also invests it with specically Argentine resonances. In Argentina, where livestock is a basic industry, the same workers who can barely afford the meat that they themselves produce are simultaneously encouraged by advertising to consume the useless procts of the multinational companies. The livestock metaphor, anticipated in the earlier prize-bull sequence, is subsequently "diegetized" when a shot of the exterior of a slaughterhouse coincides with an account of the police repression of its striking workers. The advertising/slaughter juxtaposition, meanwhile, evokes advertising itself as a kind of slaughter whose numbing effect is imaged by mallet striking the ox unconscious. The vapid accompanying music by the Swingle Singers (Bach grotesquely metamorphosed into Ray Conniff) counterpoints the brutality of the images, while underlining the shallowly plastic good cheer of the ads. In La hora, minimalism——the avant-garde aesthetic most appropriate to the exigencies of lm production in the Third World——reects practical necessetiy as well as artistic strategy. Time and again one is struck by the contrast between the poverty of the original materials and the power of the nal result. Unpromising footage is transmogried into art, as the alchemy of montage transforms the base metals into titles, blank frames and percussive sounds into the gold and silver of rhythmic virtuosity. Static two-dimensional images (photos, posters, ads, engravings) are dynamized by editing and camera movement. Still photos and moving images sweep by at such velocity that we lose track of where movement stops and stasis begins. The most striking minimalist image——a closeup of Che Guevara’’s face in death——is held for a full ve minutes. The effect of this inspirational death mask is paradoxical. Through the having-been-there of photography, Che Guevara returns our glance from beyond the grave. His face even in death seems mesmerizingly present, his expression one of deant undefeat. At the same time, the photo gradually assumes the look of a cracked revolutionary icon. The long contemplation of the photograph demysties and unmasks: we become conscious of the frame, the technical imperfections, the lmic material itself.4 The most iconoclastic sequence, entitled "Models," begins by citing Fanon’’s call for an authentically thid-world culture: "Let us not pay tribute to Europe by creating states, institutions and societies in its mould. Humanity expects more from us than this caricatural and generally obscene imitation." As the commentary derides Europe’’s "racist humanism," the image track parades the most highly prized artifacts of European high culture: the Parthenon, Dejeuner sur Lherbe, Roman frescoes, portraits of Byron and Voltaire. In an attack on the ideological hierarchies of the spectator, haloed art works are inexorably lapdissolved into meaninglessness. As in the postcard sequence of Les Carabiniers, that locus of classicus of anti-high-art semioclasm, the most cherished monuments of Western culture are implicitly equated with commercialized fetishes of consumer society. Classical painting and toothpaste are levelled as two kinds of imperial 68

export. The pretended "universality" of European culture is exposed as a myth masking the fact of domination. This demolition job on Western culture is not without its ambiguities, however; for Solanas and Getino, like Fanon before them, are imbued with the very culture they so vehemently denigrate. La hora betrays a cultivated familiarity with the Flemish painting, Italian opera, French cinema; it alludes to the entire spectrum of highbrow culture. Their attack is also an exorcism, the product of a love-hate relationship to the European parent culture. The same lap dissolves that obliterate classical art also highlight its beauty. The lm’’s scorn for "culture," furthermore, nds ample precedent within the anti-traditionalist modernism of Europe itself. Mayakovsky asked, even before the revolution, that the classics be "cast from the steamboat of modernity." The dismissal of all antecedent art as simple a waste of time recalls the antepassatismo of the futurists. "We must spit each day," said Marinetti, "on the altar of art." And both Mayakovsky and Godard have evoked the symbolic destruction of the shrines of high culture. "Make bombardment echo on the museum walls," shouted Mayakovsky, and Godard, in La Chinoise, has Veronique call for the bombing of the Louvre and the Comedie Francaise. While drawing on a certain avant-garde, La hora critiques what it sees as the apolitical avant-garde. Revolutionary lms, in their view, must be aesthetically avant-garde——revolutionary art must rst of all be revolutionary as art (Benjamin)——but avant-garde lms are not necessarily revolutionary. La hora eludes what it sees as the vacuity of a certain avant-garde by politicizing what might have been purely formalistic exercises. The ironic pageant of high art images in the "models" sequence, for example, is accompanied by a discourse on the colonization of a third-world culture. Another sequence, superimposing shots of Argentineans lounging at poolside with vapid cocktail dialogue about the prestige value of being familiar with op art and pop art, abstract art and concrete art, highlights the bourgeois fondness for a politically innocuous avantgarde which is as much the product of fashion and commodity fetishism as styles in shirts and jeans. In Argentina, its promotion formed part of a pattern of United States cultural intervention in which organizations such as the U.S.I.S. exhibited modernist painting as part of a larger imperialist strategy. An apolitical avant-garde risks becoming an institutionaized loyal opposition, the progressive wing of establishment art. Supplying a daily dose of novelty to a satiated society, it generates surface turmoil while leaving the deep structures intact. The artists, as Godard once pointed out, are inmates who bang their dishes against the bars of their prison. Rather than destroy the prison, they merely make a noise which, ultimately, reassures the warden. The noise is then coopted by a mechanism of repressive desublimation and cited as proof of the system’’s liberality. La hora has nothing to do with such an avant-garde, and to treat it as such would be to trivialize it by detaching it from the revolutionary impulse that drives and informs it. 69

Embracing elements of this critique of an apolitical avant-garde does not entail endorsing all features of the lm’’s global politics. Without diminishing the directors‘‘ achievement or disrespecting the sacrice of thousands of Argentineans, one feels obliged to point out certain political ambiguities in the lm. La hora shares with what one might call the heroic-masochistic avant-garde a vision of itself as engaged in a kind of apocalypstic self-sacrice in the name of future generations. The artistic avant-garde, as Renato Poggioli and Massimo Bontempelli have suggested, often cultivates the image, and symbolically suffers the fate, of military avant-gardes: they serve as advanced cadres "slaughtered" (if only by the critics) to prepare the way for the regular army or the new society. The spirit of self-immolation on the altar of the future ("Pitie pour nous qui combattons toujours aux frontieres/De l‘‘illimite et de l‘‘avenir") merges in La hora with a quasi-religious subtext which draws on the language and imagery of martyrdom, death and resurrection. One might even posit a subliminal Dantesque structuring which ascends from the inferno of neocolonial oppression through the purgatorio of revolutionary violence to the paradiso of national liberation. Without reviving the facile caricature of Marxism as "secular religion," one can regret the lm’’s occasional confusion of political categories with moral-religious ones. The subsurface millenarianism of the lm, which it partially explains the lm’’s power (and its appeal for even some bourgeois critics), in some ways undermines its political integrity. Equipped with the luxury of retrospective lucidity, one can also better discern the deciencies of the Fanonian and Guevarist ideas informing the lm. La hora is deeply imbued with Fanon’’s faith in the therapeutic value of violence. But while it is true to say that violence is an effective political language, the key to resistance or the taking of power, it is quite another to value it as therapy for the oppressed. La hora misapplies a theory associated with a specic point in Fanon’’s ideological trajectory (the point of maximum disenchantment with the European left) and with a precise historical situation (French settler colonialism in Algeria). Solanas and Getino also play rightful tribute to Che Guevara as model revolutionary. Subsuquent events, however, have made it obvious that certain of Che’’s policies were mistaken. Guevarism in Latin America gave impetus to an ultra-voluntarist strategy which often turned out to be ineffective or even suicidal. One might even link the vestigial machismo of the lm’’s language ("El Hombre": Man) to this ideal of the heroic warrior who personally exposes himself to combat.5 Guerrilla strategists often underestimated the repressive power of the governments in place and overestimated the objective and subjective readiness of the local populations for revolution. As a left Peronist lm, La hora also partakes of the historical strenghts and weaknesses of that movement.6 Solanas-Getino rightly identify Peron as a thirdworld nationalist avant la lettre rather than the "fascist dictator" of Eurocentric mythology.7 ("Peron was a fascist and a dictator detested by all good men…… except Argentines," said Dean Acheson, slyly insinuating that Argentines were 70

not good men.) While La hora does score the failures of Peronism——its refusal to attack the power bases of the oligarchy, its failure to arm the people against the right-wing coups, its constant oscilation between "democracy of the people" and the "dictatorship of bureaucracy"——the lmmakers see Peron as the man through whom Argentine working class become gropingly aware of its collective destiny. Peronism, for them, was "objectively revolutionary," because it embodied this proletarian movement. By breaking the imperial stranglehold on Argentina’’s economy, Peronism would prepare the way for authentic socialist revolution. The lm fails most crucially, however, in not placing Peronism in its most appropraite context——Latin American populism. In this version, populism represents a style of political representation by which certain progressive and nationalistic elements of the bourgeoisie enlist the support of the people in order to advance their own interests. Latin American populists, like populists everywhere, irt with the right with one hand and caress the left with the other, making pacts with God and the Devil. Like the inhabitants of Alphaville, they manage to say yes and no at the same time. As a tactical alliance, Peronism constitued a labyrinthine tangle of contradictions, a fragile mosaic which shattered, not surprisingly, with its leader’’s disappearance. Peronism was plagued by at least two major contradictions, both of which are inscribed, to a certain extent, in the lm. Wholeheartedly anti-imperialist, Peronism was only half heartedly anti-monopolist since the industrial bourgeoisie allied with it was more frightened of the working class than it was of imperialism. Although Solanas-Getino at one point explicitly call for socialist revolution, there is ambiguity in the lm and in the concept of "Third Cinema." The "third," while obviously referring to the "Third World," also echoes Peron’’s call for a "third way," for an intermediate path between socialism and capitalism. That La hora seems more radical than it is in fact largely derives from its skillful orchestration of what one might call the revolutionary intertext, i.e., its aural and visual evocation of tricontinental revolution. The strategically placed allusions to Che Guevara, Fanon, Ho Chi Minh and Stokely Carmichael create a kind of "effet de radicalite" rather like the "effet de reel" cited by Barthes in connections with the strategic details of classical realist ction. Peronism’’s second major contradiction has to do with its constant swing between democracy and authoritarianism, participation and manipulation. With populism, a plebian style and personal charisma often mask a deep scorn for the masses. Egalitarian manners create an apparent equality between the representative of the elite and the people who are the object of manipulation. The lm, at once manipulative and participatory, strong-armed and egalitarian, shares in this ambiguity. It speaks the language of popular expression ("Your ideas are important as ours") but also resorts to hyperbolic language and sledgehammer persuasion. La hora is beautiful in its critique. And history has not shown its authors to be totally failed prophets. It is facile for us, equipped with hindsight and protected 71

by distance, to point up mistaken predictions or failed strategies. The lm’’s indictment of neocolonialism remains shatteringly relevant. The critique of the traditional left, and especially of the Argentine Communist Party, has been born out as the PCA offers its critical support to a right-wing regime, largely because it concentrates is repression on the non-Stalinist left and makes grain deals with the Soviet Union. The lm also accurately points up the ruling class potentially for violent repression. The current regime, with its horrendous human rights record, its desaparecidos and its anti-Semitism, merely reafrms the capacity for violence of an elite that has "more than once bathed the country in blood." Despite its more than occasional ambiguities, La hora de los hornos remains a seminal contribution to revolutionary cinema. Transcending the narcissistic selfexpression of Auteurism, it voices the concerns of a mass movement. By allying itself with a concrete movement, which however "impure" has at least the virtue of being real, it practices a cinematic politics of "dirty hands." If its politics are at times populist, its lmic strategies are not. It assumes that the mass of people are quite capable of grasping the exact meaning of an association of images or of a sound montage; that it is ready, in short, for linguistic experimentation. It respects the people by offering quality, proposing a cinema which is simultaneously a tool for consciousness-raising, an instrument for analysis, and a catalyst for action. La hora provides a model for avant-garde political lmmaking and a treasury of formalist strategies. It is an advanced seminar in the politics of art and the art of politics, a four-hour launching pad for experimentation, an underground guide to revolutionary cinematic praxis. La hora is also a key piece in the ongoing debate concerning the two avant-gardes. It would be naïve and sentimental to see the two avant-gardes as "naturally" allied. (The mere mention of Ezra Pound or Marinetti refutes such an idea.) The alliance of the two avant-gardes is not natural, it must be forged. The two avant-gardes, yoked by a common impulse of rebellion, concretely need each other. While revolutionary aesthetics without revolutionary politics is often futile, ("They did away with the grammar," said Pere Brecht, "but they forgot to do away with capitalism."), revolutionary politics with revolutionary aesthetics is equally retrograde, pouring the new wine of revolution into the old bottles of conventional forms, reducing art to a crude instrumentality in the services of a performed message. La hora, by avoiding the twin traps of an empty iconoclasm on the one hand, and a "correct" but formally nostalgic militancy on the other, constitutes a major step toward the realization of that scandalously utopian and only apparently paradoxical idea——that of a majoritarian avant-garde. 1. The idea of the "Third Cinema" is fully developed in an essay by Solanas and Getino entitled "Toward a Third Cinema". 2. Solanas and Getino were not historically the rst to suggest the combination of lm with discussion. In 1933, Bela Balazs proposed that "explanations" be made standard at all screenings: "This does not apply only to our lms. We must have critical, satirical analyses of the bourgeois 72

lms, expose their reactionary, capitalistic and anti-proletarian ideaology, ridicule their philistine narrow-mindedness." Balazs’’ proposal is, nally, less open than that of Solanas-Getino, since he favors "explanations" rather than "debate," going so far as to suggest that the lecturer record his/ her comments on a disc which could accompany the lm. More recently, McCall and Tyndall in Argument aim to create the preconditions whereby the audience can act on the social situation which the lm engages. The lm has been shown to small groups followed by discussions with its makers. This experiment too is less audacious than that of Solanas-Getino, since the lm is not interrupted, and the debate is only with the lmmakers. 3. Aleatory procedures are, of course, typical of art issues in the sixties. One need think only of "process art" in which chemical, biological or seasonal forces affect the original materials, or of environmental art, or happenings, mixed media, human-machine-interaction systems, street theater and the like. The lm formed part of a general tendency to erase the boundaries between art and life, but rarely did this erasure take such a highly politicized form. 4. The Argentine junta paid inadvertent tribute to the revolutionary potential of photography when they arrested Che Guevara’’s mother in 1962, accusing her of having in her possession a "subversive" photograph. The photograph was of her son Che. See The New York Times, May 19, 1980, p. A10. 5. Gerald Chaliand, in Mythes Revolutionnaires du Tiers Monde (1976), criticizes what he calls the "macho" attitudes of Latin American guerillas which led them to expose themselves to combat even when their presence was not required, thus resulting in the death of most of the guerilla leaders. He contrasts this attitude with the more prudent procedure of the Vietnamese. During fteen years of war, not one of the fty members of the central committee of the South Vietnamese National Liberation Front fell into the hands of the enemy. 6. Should there be any doubt about the Peronist allegiances of the lm, one need only remember the frequent quotations of Peron, the interviews with Peronist militants, and the critiques of the non-Peronist left. In 1971, Solanas and Getino made a propaganda lm for Peron, Peron: La Revolucion Justicialista (Peron: The Justicialism Revolution). The Cine-Liberacion group which made the lm, according to Solanas, served as "the cinematic arm of General Peron." During the Campora administration, Getino accepted a post on the national lm board. Upon Peron’’s death, Solanas and Getino made a public declaration supporting the succession of his wife Isabel. Ironically, the repression unleashed after her ouster was leveled as much against Solanas and Getino as against those who had been more consistently to the left. 7. The simplistic view of Peron as a fascist has been revived in many of the reviews of the Broadway production of Evita, with a number of critics comparing the play to the kind of spectacle parodied in Mel Brooks’’ The Producers.



The rst reference to the concept of a "Third Cinema" appeared in the Cuban lm journal Cine cubano in March of 1969, in an interview with members of the Argentine Cine Liberación group. At that time, the group maintained that "there is a growing need for a "Third Cinema," one that would not fall into the trap of trying to engage in a dialogue with those who have no interest in doing so. It would be a cinema of aggression, a cinema that would put an end to the irrationality that has come before it; an agit cinema. This does not mean that lmmakers should take on exclusively political or revolutionary themes, but that their lms would thoroughly explore all aspects of life in Latin America today……. This cinema, revolutionary in both its formulation and its consciousness, would invent a new cinematographic language, in order to create a new consciousness and a new social reality." A few months later, in October 1969, the article "Towards a Third Cinema: Notes and Experiences Regarding the Development of a Liberation Cinema in the Third World" (see the essay in this volume by Solanas and Getino) appeared in the journal Tricontinental, published by OSPAAAL in Paris. With these notes, the group hazarded a few theoretical denitions of a Third Cinema’’s objectives and methodology. Certain ambiguities remained in this formulation of the theory, however, so these were claried during the Latin American Filmmakers‘‘ Conference held in Viña del Mar, Chile, with the publication of the article "Militant Cinema, an Internal Category of Third Cinema." These publications had a signicant effect on young lmmakers, not only in Latin America and the Third World but also in the developed countries, including the United States, Canada, France and Italy, and they were reprinted in books and specialized journals. From that time on, Cine Liberación as a group did not return to these themes. Its principal members——Fernando Solanas, Gerardo Vallejo, and the author of these notes—— did, however, continue to discuss them in articles, interviews and debates published in specialized journals around the world. It was essential that I note these antecedents in order for me to analyze——in a provisory and strictly personal matter——the value of these theories on the Third Cinema, elaborated 10 years ago, may have today.1 THE NATIONAL CONTEXT AS THE GENERATOR OF THEORY AND PRACTICE The attempt to create a Third Cinema in Argentina was bound up in our own particular historical and political circumstances, marked during the last years of the 1960s by increasing levels of organization and mobilization within the popular 74

resistance movements. Greater cohesion between the middle and working classes also developed during this period of military rule, culminating in 1973 with the resounding electoral victory of the Frente Justicialista de Liberación, led by the Peronist movement and supported by every progressive sector in the country. The practical work of Cine Liberación was thus conditioned by the simultaneous growth of national resistance movements and the campaign to democratize the country. This situation basically dened the orientation and theories of the group. The language of the lms produced by members of the group was imilarly informed by the political reality of Argentina. In opposition to the prevailing notion of an auteur cinema, we developed this notion of a Third Cinema, an agit cinema, a cinema made collectively.2 We didn’’t fully realize at the time the extent to which the Argentina reality of the late 1960s dened the content and the form of our work and its parallel theoretical elaboration. In turn, our work was destined to contribute to the development and the liberation of our country, as well as to certain debates in lm circles. This is not to deny whatever universal value certain aspects of the theory may have; it is worth emphasizing, however, that the value of theories such as these is always dependent on the terrain in which the praxis is carried out. Any attempt to consider an ideological construct universal would be erroneous without consideration of the national context at its root. PRACTICE AS THE GENERATOR OF THEORY In order to understand fully the ideas behind Third Cinema, we must note that its theoretical component arose after, and not before, the practical work of making lms: that is to say, after the production and distribution of La hora de los hornos (The Hour of the Furnaces), directed by Solanas, which was begun in 1966 and nished in 1968. Both Solanas and myself, while making this lm, amassed a considerable amount of theoretical material. It was for our own use, as reections on our ongoing practical work. It was this material that we drew upon when we developed the theories which were published between 1969 and 1971. It is difcult to imagine the subsequent international exposure of these theories had the lm not existed. It was only through the existence of the lm that we were able to refute the criticism of those who opposed our theories. With this lm, we demonstrated for the rst time that it was possible to produce and distribute a lm in a non-liberated country with the specic aim of contributing to the political process of liberation. To do this, we had to develop a different way of using lm than that which had existed until that time.3 It thus remains difcult even today to separate the concet of Third Cinema from the lm La hora de los hornos, a demonstration of the interdependence of theory and practice. It is this practice which should be the principal focus of analysis today as it stimulated, even determined, the kinds of theories we put forward 10 years ago.


THE SOCIAL CONTEXT AS MEDIATOR We can identify three principal stages in the work of the Cine Liberación group: The production and distribution of La hora de los hornos was possible, as I have already noted, because of the strong offensive of a popular resistance movement against a military government in full retreat. This opposition movement, basically led by the Peronist party, had a strong national tradition and organizational structure through the trade unions and on the local community level. This facilitated the distribution of alternative lms through decentralized parallel circuits which would have been impossible to maintain under different political circumstances. Even so, the continuation of this practice required a theoretical base capable of guiding its development. Another factor which should be noted in this discussion of the theories of the Third Cinema movement is the social background of the lmmakers in the Cine Liberación group.4 By the mid-1960s, as the "developmentalist" economic policies of the military rulers proved disastrous, the increasingly impoverished middle class began to seek a way out of the impasse in any manner available to them. During this same period, the well-organized working class frustrated several attempts to subvert fundamental democratic institutions in the Argentine political process. It was also a time when events abroad, particularly the Cuban revolution, were having an effect in Argentina. This revolution was being idealized, even by the middle class, as a universal model of political organization for Latin America. Naturally the working class, hardened by decades of struggle in which it was the principal——and often solitary——protagonist, experienced this period differently than the middle class. Historically, the working class exercised a hegemony on the process of national liberation. The middle class could only hope to join this revolutionary process, from which it had previously kept its distance at every critical historical juncture. La hora de los hornos, and the other lms made by Cine Liberación, must be analyzed in this context, that of middle class intellectuals caught up in insurrectionary mobilizations, inuenced by the cultural and political traditions of the working class movement but still embodying contradictions inherited from the neo-colonization of Argentina. For my part, I believe that we too were not free of this dynamic. Cine Liberación was, before anything else, our fusion as intellectuals with the reality of the working class. This determined the tentative and inconclusive nature of our proposals. "Until now," we emphasized in "Towards a Third Cinema," "we have put forward practical proposals but only loose ideas——just a sketch of the hypotheses which were born of our rst lm, La hora de los hornos. We thus don’’t pretend to present them as a sole or exclusive model but only as ideas which may be useful in the debate over the use of lm in non-liberated countries." 2. THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF THIRD CINEMA IN ARGENTINA 76 i) ii) iii) that of the group’’s formation and initial activities as part of the resistance against the Argentine military goverments of Onganía, Levingston, and Lanusse; that of its open collaboration with the democratic and popular government in power in 1973-74, until the death of President Perón; that of its withdrawal into a new form of resistance, which is the current stage, the stage of exile.

THE FIRST STAGE: 1966-1970/1 This rst stage of the group’’s activities is delineated, approximately, by the years 1966 and 1970/1. This was the period when the work with the greatest international impact was produced. I refer here primarily to the lm La hora de los hornos, directed by Solanas and on which I worked as co-author: the lm established the base from which the group would work, both within Argentina and abroad. When the lm was nished, we began the other, no less important task of setting up parallel distribution circuits for the lm through trade unions and community and Peronist Youth organizations. During this period young lmmakers began to organize, together with Peronist activitsts and other progressive groups, giving rise to testimonial lms and documentaries about what was happening in Argentina at the time. The national trade union CGT [Confederación General de Trabajadores], for example, put out the newsreel Cineinformes de la CGT de los argentinos at this time. As work progressed on the practical levels of prouction and distribution, the group published its three major theoretical pieces: "La cultura nacional, el cine, ya La hora de los hornos" ("National Culture, Cinema, and The Hour of the Furnaces," Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, Cine cubano no. 56/57, Havana, March 1969); "Hacia un tercer cine" ("Towards a Third Cinema," Solanas and Getino, Tricontinental no. 13, OSPAAAL, Paris, October 1969); and "Cine militante: una categoría interna tercer cine" ("Militant Cinema, an Internal Category of Third Cinema," Solanas and Getino, mimeograph, Viña del Mar, 1971). The group also published material in the periodicals Notas de Cine Liberación and Sobres de cultura y liberación. The latter was published by a united front of visual artists, students and political activists with objectives similar to our own. We also made lms throughout this period, of course, which were always barred from conventional distribution circuits. It was only through the popular organizations that we were able to distribute them. THE SECOND STAGE: 1971-1974 77

This stage, which saw our work having fewer international repercussions, led instead to our lms really taking root in national life. We ran the risk of having our lms censored and began to make lms intended for commercial release through normal distribution channels. The rst lm to do this was Gerardo Vallejo’’s El camino hacia la muerte del Viejo Reales (Old Man Reales‘‘ Road to Death, 1970). I made El familiar (The Relative, 1973) and Solanas made Los hijos de Fierro (The Children of Fierro, begun in 1972 and nished in 1977 in exile). Similar lms, made outside our group but from the same "liberation cinema" perspective, should be noted as well, especially Operación massacre (Operation Massacre, 1972) by Jorge Cedrón. Numerous short lms were made in regional centers throughout the country. In Tucumán, for example, Vallejo made Testimonios tucumanos and later Testionios de la reconstrucción, which were screened on the regional television network operated by the university of that province. This new approach required us to formulate new ideas in our written material as well. The magazine Cine y Liberación appeared in 1972 and reected the popular resistance which by then was poised to take power. It was also during this period that we made two important documentaries in Madrid with Perónist movement, Actualización política y doctrinaria para la toma del poder (Political and Theoretical Renewal Towards the Taking of Power) and La revolución justicialista (The Justicialist [Peronist] Revolution). In order to distribute these lms, we used——and expanded——the parallel circuits we had developed for La hora de los hornos. The demand for these two lms, particularly the latter, in fact surpassed the demand for our earlier lms, and we made more than 50 16mm copies of La revolución justicialista. This double-edged production strategy, with some lms aimed at commercial audiences and others made for the paralel circuits, was accompanied by the organization of lmmakers, and not only activists but others from the mainstream of the industry who were being politicized by events of the day. At this time, our group was composed of lmmakers, critics, actors, independent producers, short lmmakers, technicians and lm workers united by the pressing need to develop a project of national liberation, both for country and for its cinema. With the liberation of the country in 1973 we were able to take part in the formulation of new policies in the lm industry. It was during this period that I was asked to head the lm classication board, a task I shared with all those concerned with the real development of our lm industry.5 It did not take long before the group’’s work in this period was denounced, by the extreme Left before anyone else, who accused us of being "opportunists" and "bureaucrats." Afterwards the extreme Right joined in with different but undoubtedly more forceful arguments. As far as the Left is concerned, there were some extreme tendencies at work in the country at that time, which had little popular support. Their leaders confused tactics with strategy and the means with the end. Their lm activity they called "guerrilla cinema," which appropriated our 78

theories of several years earlier and adopted them as a dogmatic bible. They saw in our work a supposed retreat into pro-governemnt propaganda, not distinguishing between support for a government elected by 70% of the people and support for the armed forces. This ultra-Left offensive, launched in order to create obstacles to the democratic process, attempted to initiate a "popular revolutionary war" which actually led to the creation of miniscule ghettoized groups as alienated from the national will as were the paramilitary groups of the far Right.6 THE THIRD STAGE: 1974From 1974 on, after the death of Perón, the political project that the majority of the people had set in motion a year earlier began to falter. The imperialist offensive, visible in the events around us in Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile,7 coincided with this weakening, which unfolded rapidly. It became clear that the force and cohesion of the popular movements in those countries——and in Argentina——were not as strong as we had imagined. In addition, the international solidarity promised us by those who make revolutionary chatter a way of life failed to materialize, this aid coming only after our defeat and to the benet of the military government.8 We are now living in a time when the repression is so severe that we can’’t make lms either above ground or underground. To speak of a "guerrilla cinema," would be absurd. To attempt to make that kind of cinema in Argentina today would undermine the position of the working classes rather than strengthen it. Cine Liberación thus abandoned the use of "guerrilla" tactics, which to our mind had validity during the popular offensive but ceased to do so after 1973. It was precisely during this latter period that "militant cinema," at least that form of it practiced by us, in fact deepened its militancy by involving itself in the everyday political tasks of the masses, renouncing all forms of vanguardism which were outside the newly created democratic process. As we had established during the earlier stage of our work, we prefer to err with the people rather than to take the "correct line" without them. It was not a coincidence, then, that just as we launched La hora de los hornos the orthodox Marxist Left, in Paris and Buenos Aires, joined the Right and attacked our position. We were "populist" and "fascist" to the forer yet "subversive" and "communist" to the latter. Both groups used essentially the same intimidation tactics, differingly only in their choice of adjectives to describe us. The change in our practical course during this period modied our theoretical positions, although these were not set out in written form as they were during the earlier stage. Instead, we strove to realize some of the ideas we had formulated earlier, particular our search for a new lm language capable of expressing our social reality with more insight and rigor. This entailed opening up to new genres and styles which could not be classied as documentary lms. We wanted to contribute to the decolonization of our country’’s dependency of our lm industry. 79

We thus entered into a period of critical revision and self criticism. To do so in the realm of practice seems to me the best method, in that the self criticism is constantly being veried by the concrete rendering of ideas, ideas that are always tied to the necessities of the national reality and to questions of political strategy. ——Translated by Timothy Barnard 1. This article was written in the late 1970s while the author was in exile in Peru and when Argentina was ruled by its bloodiest military dictatorship ever, which not only suppressed radical lmmaking but virtually dismantled the commercial lm industry [trans.]. 2. In Cine Liberación’’s schema, "First Cinema" was the classical cinema of Hollywood and Western Europe; "Second Cinema" was the auteur cinema which spraing up in these same centers in the early 1960s; and "Third Cinema" was a radical liberation cinema produced in the Third World and marked not only by different aesthetic and political concerns but by its challenge to the very system of commercial lm production and consumption [trans.]. 3. Not only was La hora de los hornos seen semi-clandestinely through a network of trade unions and activist groups, as the author mentions below, but it was structured in a way to generate audience discussion in an attempt to render the lm-viewing experience less passive [trans.]. 4. Solanas, for example, was an extremely successful director of short advertising lms in the early 1960s and as late as 1965 had attempted to make a ction lm in the mainstream of the lm industry [trans.]. 5. The classication board was a committee of censors appointed from inuential interest groups like the church, the military, "moral defense" groups, etc. Getino revamped the appointment procedure to include trade unions, academics and the general public as mong those groups represented. For a brief period——until Perón’’s death in 1974 and Getino’’s subsequent replacement by a fanatical censor——no lms other than pornography were cut or banned and the classication system was revised to including warnings of such things as overt racism alongside the usual moral cautions [trans.]. 6. The lm group Getino is referring to here is that known as Cine Grupo de la Base, whose principal gure was Raymundo Gleyzer. The group made the lm Los traidores (The Traitors), about the betrayal of Peronism by strong-arm reactionary trade union bosses——Peronism was always an untenable and contradictoary alliance of Left- and Right-wing elements——in 1974. Gleyzer was abducted by a paramilitary death squad in 1976 and is counted among the country’’s "disappeared" [trans.]. 7. There were military coups in Bolivia in 1971 and in Chile and Uruguay in 1973 [trans.]. 8. Getino is referring to the seemingly inexplicable cordiality between the U.S.S.R. and the Argentine military regime, which was engaged in a brutal campaign against the domestic agents of "international communism" [trans.].

Fernando Solanas LETTER TO THE SPECTATORS ON THE OCCASION OF THE REVIVAL (May 1989) When beginning this letter, I ask myself how to tell those who were born in the fabulous decade of the 60‘‘s about those epic and violent, liberating and repressive and full years of ruptures, dreams and utopias? How to be able to convey to them what it meant for us at that time, to be under thirty years old and defying fear and prohibitions by throwing ourselves into the most beautiful and difcult adventures in order to conceive and realize The Hour of the Furnaces……? How to narrate to them the institutionalized violence and the prevailing despondency after decades of dictatorship, and of governments that had arisen beyond the parameters of the national majority? How to express what took place with the guerillas who bombed the civilian populace in 1955, the violence and the thousands of prisoners in Patagonia; with the executions of 1956 and the torturers of the Conintes Plan; with the military mobilization of the workers on strike, plus the thousands of prohibited and imprisoned politicians who during those years were a sad custom? How to explain to them the effort of work, prudence and organization it took me during the dictatorship of General Onganía to be able to produce and realize this rst feature lm with my Producer of Advertising Cinema, to later take to Rome more than 200 lm cans in order to nish its edition and then to send it, surprising the regime……? How to confess to them the innumerable creative and technical, political, personal or group crises that in that brief solitude we had to face next to Octavio Getino in order to be able to continue with this utopia, until presenting it to its natural audience? How to recreate to them the difcult thing that it was to us, to instinctively make contact with the working-class when the delegates distrusted the intellectuals as much as the laborers did because they saw in them those they had forgotten or betrayed throughout history? How to tell them about the deep joy that was felt less when learning of the popular memory that history prohibited or silenced; of the national movement that was none other than the continuity of the independent and anticolonial deed? How to transmit the effort to them, realized on our own march, to release of all the dependent conceptions——political and cinematographic and the immense enjoyment that we felt when we began to invent the lm from the needs and priorities that we had at that time, to conceive and to realize a lm that was in and of itself an act of resistance against the dictatorship and an instrument for mobilization, debate and political discussion? How to be able to explain to them what it was like living in absolute illegality: the Congress closed, the political and student activities prohibited, censorship implemented, the university taking part without perspective to change the violence of the system by constitutional or legal routes from 1955, the experience of the ght of the Third World fed, 81


and the way of popular violence taught like a liberation alternative? How to tell them that during those years of the 60‘‘s, a new consciousness was arising in all my generation; like for example, we discovered that only the Buenos Airian oligarchy had used systematic violence to impose three great genocides——the war against the gaucho, the war against Paraguay and the war against the Indians; and in this century that same oligarchy had overthrown with coup d‘‘etats whichever constitutional and popular government opposed its aims? …… Having suffered a dictatorship, the ideas of General Mitre were not ones to consider, when in 1874 he justied the rise against the government of Avellaneda by saying that: "When the right of suffrage, source of all reason and all power in the democracies, is suppressed, then revolution is in fact a right and a necessity, and not to execute it with the arms and hands of few or many would be opprobrium.”” Finally, how to express to them the joy and the enjoyment that we have experienced when describing how the dreamed-of work became a reality, and that history was generous with us because within a few months The Hour of the Furnaces went from being a damned lm to a myth, a legend, that exerted a deep inuence not only in Latin America but in Europe and the U.S.A? Finally, how to enumerate this most extraordinary long process that was the culmination of hundreds of projections in our country, for those who had to continue history in the present with their political practice……? …… How to make them feel the emotions that we experienced, when we learned that true ‚‚acts of liberation‘‘ were triggered by The Hour…… as it was being screened in family houses, parishes, unions, schools or facilities, where people went in spite of the repression……? More than twenty years have passed since we nished The Hour of the Furnaces. We, the of the generation of the 60‘‘s, the ones who challenged the neocolonial system and were loyal to the liberation project of Perón, the ones who lived through the spring of ‚‚73, through pursuit and terror, exile within or outside, until the return, the ones who fought every moment for popular sovereignty and democracy and had both successes and failures, we have always acted according to our ethics and principles. Those values still live in us, and expect to be carried out. Today the democratic processes have been consolidated; although tragically, aside from the problems denounced in the lm, they are good ones, they continue in force or have been aggravated so much that they are now a pale reection. They have been present, like a mirror of the inequality and injustice of an alien Argentina, and submit to that which still expects to carry out its project ‚‚... for the sovereignty of the people and the greatness of the Nation‘‘. For all these reasons, as well as to impart knowledge of what took place during those epic years of the 60‘‘s, we revive The Hour of the Furnaces. ——Translated by Laura Schleifer with Daniel Loria

"We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity." ——Junta Tuitival Revolutionary Proclamation La Paz, 16 July 1809 DocTruck Red Channels 16 Beaver Group Libertad Gills UnionDocs However, there is something that stays however, there is something that bemoans. ——Jorge Luis Borges


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