Classic Texts and Theories

The Third Cinema project developed out of the period of the 1960s and 1970s inspired by the revolutionary and political struggles in nations throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Many filmmakers were inspired by classic texts of the period, and some even wrote film manifestoes to explain and clarify the intentions and innovations of their films and to rally others to their cause. Below please find short descriptions of some of these major texts. While it may be difficult to obtain some of the films of Third Cinema, the texts and theories that inspired them are still generally accessible. Moreover, film and cultural theorists have also published various works outlining the history of Third Cinema, describing its impact, and analyzing its legacy. Some of the most useful are also listed below.

Frantz Fanon • Martinique • The Wretched of the Earth • first published in 1961 • [purchase]

The Wretched of the Earth examines the psychological impact of colonialization and the challenges of the process of decolonization on creating a new national consciousness. Fanon cautions against maintaining colonial legacies through economic dependence, creating new struggles and conflicts among Africans from other nations, and forgetting the reasons for and the importance of the liberation struggle. Most significantly for Third Cinema, Fanon outlines the advocates the creation of a national culture which reflects the revolutionary struggle to free oneself from the legacy of colonialism and the true beliefs and ideals of a nation.

Paulo Freire • Brazil • Pedagogy of the Oppressed • first published in 1968 • [purchase]

Pedagogy of the Oppressed highlights the need for the oppressed to educate themselves about their oppression in order to free themselves from the image of oppression that they have internalized from the oppresors. By viewing their subordination as a situation that can be transformed, they can commit to their own liberation. Freire indicates that the model of “problem-posing education”, or education where people ask critical questions of their world, their reality, their environment, and their relationship with the world, is necessary for transcending oppression through revolution.

Julio García Espinosa • Cuba • “For an Imperfect Cinema” • first published in 1969 • [read]

“For an Imperfect Cinema” argues for the importance of cinema to commit to the revolutionary struggle so that its audience can understand that they live in a world they can transform. Instead of focusing solely on artistic excellence and the finished project, Imperfect Cinema focuses on illustrating the problems of the world and the process by which they were created and encouraging the audience to analyze it and come to its own conclusions.

Glauber Rocha • Brazil • “Aesthetic of Hunger” • first published in 1965 • [read]

“Aesthetic of Hunger” explains the goals of Cinema Novo and the importance of representing hunger and misery so that it can be intellectually understood by those who experience it.

Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino • Argentina • “Towards a Third Cinema” • first published in 1969 • [read]

“Towards a Third Cinema” coins the term Third Cinema to describe films that attempt to provide alternatives to mainstream, commercial cinema espousing bourgois values as well as auteur cinema which relies on funding and distribution from capitalist sources. For Solanas and Getino, Third Cinema includes films that break free of these dominant molds and subvert the system in order to fight against it. At its best, this subversion of cinematic codes and messages will move the audience to action, becoming mobilized and politicized through the education provided by the films.

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Ella Shohat and Robert Stam • Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media • [purchase]

Includes useful analyses of the development of the term “Third World” and the history and goals of Third Cinema, as well as critical studies of racial stereotyping and biases in films from various genres and regions.

Michael T. Martin, ed. • New Latin American Cinema: Theory, Practices, and Transcontinental Articulations • [purchase]

Contains the manifestoes mentioned above, as well as several other important texts theorizing Third Cinema and its legacy.

Please note that many other texts and theorists contributed to the development of Third Cinema; these are just some of those I found most useful to my understanding. Please let me know of any major omissions.