Issue - January 2010

January 2010


Inside this edition: Petra Vissers give interviews Erika Bruzonic; Arnold Brouwer tells us about improvements at the Centro Maria Cristina Nuevo Rostro; A review of Bolivian Cinema; and ending this January edition, Walter Sánchez with Breaking Taboos. read more...

January 2010

Trends in Bolivian Cinema

The last decade Bolivian cinema has experienced a significant increase in film releases. New young directors emerged, making refreshing and different cinema. The new generation possesses a different way of looking at the world and a different way of experiencing their art

Petra Vissers
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Ultrecht - Netherlands

Driving force behind this boom has been called the young director Rodrigo Bellot. Bellot co-runs Bolivia´s first film school, La Fabrica, who´s grads worked on one of his movies, “Quien Mató a la Llamita Blanca”, as part of their thesis. His breakout movie though has been ¨Dependencia Sexual¨, released in 2004, which he wrote, helmed and produced entirely by himself. ¨Dependencia Sexual¨ is an ambitious and intriguing début. The story takes place partly in Santa Cruz and partly in Ithaca, New York. At first the film appears to tell a story of macho behaviour and sexual escapades of horny young men in both South America and the United States, but it is in fact a political essay about the consequences of our culture on sexual identity and social relations.

There is so much sex in this film but all of it joyless. The sex is never fun but always motivated by things other than affection, let alone love; the character from the first storyline, Jessica, is forced to have sex by a young man who crashes her friends’ fifteenth birthday party. Sebastian, the same young man’s cousin, visiting from Colombia, is bullied into having sex with a prostitute. Choco, another character, feels obligated to prove his masculinity by scoring a beautiful married Brazilian woman in a nightclub.

Not only the theme of the movie is interesting, the visual artwork is even more fascinating. The movie was shot digitally by Bellot and another operator on two cameras. Bellot has a visual gift and he has been able to spin images of the ideas he explores. He uses a split screen to tell his story and his use of it is seamless and original. At times, the same shot spills from one screen into another, at other times it is played out with a slight nuance of perspective. The characters move around one another, unknown of the fact that their stories and life’s are connected. Bellot moves forward and then sometimes goes back a few hours to let us view the setup to an event from a different perspective. ¨Dependencia Sexual¨ is an accusation against the marketing and mass production of desire, but it ends with a note of strength and hope that with knowledge and education a voice will come, and with that freedom.

While Bellot´s´ oeuvre consists of movies like this one; raw, explicit and at times coarse, almost like documentaries, there is also that other trend in Latin American cinema; the trend of mystical, more implicit, so you want even sweet, cinema. Sometimes almost, like fairytales. One representative of this trend is the Italian Paolo Agazzi. He has been living in Bolivia since 1975 and worked on a couple of movies before ¨Los Hermanos Cartagena¨ (The Cartagena brothers¨) was released in 1986. His first movie he has written and directed himself. The film portrays the 1952 revolution and 1980 coup in Bolivia through the lives of two brothers, Juan José 7 and Martín. Juan José, the legitimate son of their father, is transformed by his experiences as a young man in the 1950s and he becomes the boss of a paramilitary group during the 1980 coup.

The illegitimate son MartĂ­n on the other hand becomes a trade union leader during that period. The film shows how life has different plans for everyone and how your futur an be established by the place or even the circumstances under which you were born. The two Cartagena brothers lead their different lives in the same city but, in the end, their lives lead them to the ultimate clash between brothers.

The reality of every day life, in a political or social way, is one of the other important themes in Latin American cinema. A good example of this is the Mexican/Bolivian co-production ¨American Visa¨, released in 2005, written and directed by Bolivian director Juan Carlos Valdivia. It is an essay not only about pursuing the American dream but also about finding your dream in the country you were born in. The main character, Mario, is a retired English teacher from the countryside who wants nothing more then go to the United States. He leaves his family, his home and his career to pursue that dream and goes La Paz to obtain his Visa there. His request gets denied by a scary looking officer who asks him questions like ¨Are you planning on killing the president of the United States?¨. But determined to succeed he ends up doing things that he never imagined he would, getting more and more dragged into the world of illegality. The movie’s question is if Mario is really pursuing the American dream or just a dream of a life far away from the one that he knows. And maybe, just maybe, might it be possible to pursue one’s dreams in Bolivia itself?

Cinema in Bolivia is not only a matter of fiction, it is, as with almost everything, strongly embedded in the political and everyday reality his citizens have to deal with. With the emergence of a strong Bolivian cinema and the influence of a new generation comes the emergence of a strong voice. A voice that is influenced by the culture of mainly the United States, but also a voice that remains genuine and, most important, a voice that remains Bolivian. A voice that aims to tell the world about a complex but beautiful place on earth.

Cultural Corner Breaking Taboos

Little is known about youth counter culture in the city of Cochabamba of the XX century. Social history, having focused on the study of so called “popular cultures” vs. “oligarchy cultures”, or on existing counter positions between groups such as landowners, mestizo (artisans, tradesmen…) and peasants (farmers, small land owners), has not developed in the sense of symbolic, idealistic,

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