Sunday, August 5, 2012

7/27-  Cinema in Chile: Media, Film and Visual Effects
Carolina Larraín
Institute of Communication & Image
Universidad de Chile

One of the presentations that stood out to me over the past couple of weeks was on Chilean Cinema.  There was so much that Carolina brought up that it was difficult to write about and do her presentation proper justice.  I do know however that her lecture brought to life the importance of art in political discourse.  The media has been run by the elite in Chile for many years and many believe that democracy has been betrayed by these institutions.  From biased journalism to lack of transparency, citizens generally do not trust the journalists to be neutral.  Therefore, people turn to artists to be the real media and politicians. For instance, in Valparaiso, there is a place called Quinto Normal that acts as an outdoor museum where artists can share their work and political views for free.

Another interesting fact is that in the 1930’s, films with sound were introduced to Chile.  This had the surprising effect of limiting the audience that could understand the language of the films and therefore shrunk the audience considerably.  The film industry has always struggled in Chile, according to Carolina, to the point where it has stayed relatively small.  A small group of film stars has made it through to be significant actors in the news and political discourse however.  The World Cup of 1962 increased the number of viewers because many families bought televisions for the event.  In the 1960’s, the first film schools opened and mostly the elites could afford to attend.  There was a documentary boom about topics of social justice and other political issues.  These prove essential to our understanding of the military coup of 1973, once they were recovered from other countries that finally returned them after the military regime was no longer in power. 

The main way to watch films from the 1950’s to 1973 was in the theater where they would show the film and have discussions afterwards.  Many of these films were politically charged and carried strong messages.  Commercial film crept onto the scene and new cinemas developed.  The film industry has been able to expand at a rapid rate in recent years due to the ubiquity of online distribution and less expensive means of production.  Chilean films have increasingly been found in more and more film festivals globally and the satirical/parody genres addressing social issues have become popular.

Chile seems to have always been politically aware and active.  Films seem to have captured this sentiment in it’s many forms throughout the years and pushed people to be aware of their surroundings.  Film is a powerful tool to mobilize and inform masses about social issues and Chilean films have demonstrated this power.

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