Overview of Alvaray: How “New Waves of Latin American Cinema” Relates to Film
By Spencer Hugo
Alvaray, Luisela. “National, Regional, and Global: New Waves of Latin American Cinema.” Cinema Journal, 47, Number 3. University of Texas Press, 2008.
Before the 1960’s, the film industry in Latin America served one purpose: to convey the strong political ideologies of the Government to the people. For the longest time, the film industry was completely run by the state’s governing body, which provided them with any and all funding they received. According to Luisela Alvaray, however, that control fell through in the 1990’s, when those within the film industry began demanding that the Government adopt free-trade economic policies in regards to film. Though initially this devastated some of the most basic film infrastructures, the industry wound up coming back strong when the laws were rewritten to deem that fiscal means should come less from state support and more from indirect funding (i.e. privatized funding and tax breaks, among other things). Because of this, the Latin American film industry has been able to globalize and conceptualize their markets and work much closer with the world’s dominant film industries, namely the United States. And, since the MPA-AL (or Motion Picture Association – América Latina) was formed, films from countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico have become less about political agendas and more about storytelling; these films also have the added luxury of being seen by a worldwide audience, and to, in many cases, critical acclaim.
A perfect example of the above illustration comes in the form of Walter Salles’ film “The Motorcycle Diaries.” Based on the journal a young, pre-revolutionary “Che” Guevara kept during their venture, the movie follows himself and his friend Alberto Granado as they travel across South America to, eventually, find themselves. With sure handed direction, powerful acting, and a great script, the film takes subject matter that may only be most prevalent in South America and turns it into an international hit. The movie also required a more international film crew for its production, including Argentinian and Uruguayan composers Gustavo Santaolalla and Jorge Drexler (who won the Oscar for the song “Al otro lado del Rio”), respectively. The film earned over $57 million dollars worldwide, and is one of the highest grossing foreign films ever made. None of these achievements would never have occurred at all, however, had the Latin American film industry not demanded less regulation by the Government and opened distribution deals internationally.