Third cinema and nonfiction cinema
Rethinking Third Cinema by Wimal DissanayakeThis anthology addresses established notions of Third Cinema theory, and the cinema pratice of developing and postcolonial nations. The Third Cinema movement called for a politicised film-making practice in Africa, Asia and Latin America, one which would take on board issues of race, class, religion, and national integrity. The films which resulted from the movement, from directors such as Ousmane Sembene, Satyajit Ray and Nelson Pereira dos Santos, are among the most culturally significant, politically sophisticated and frequently studied films of the 1960s and 1970s. However, despite the contemporary popularity and critical attention enjoyed by films from Asia and Latin America in particular, Third Cinema and Third Cinema theory appears to have lost its momentum.
The films investigated, from directors such as Sembene, Getino, Solanas and Guzman, are amongst the most culturally significant and politically sophisticated from this movement, and denote the adoption of an independent, often oppositional stance towards commercial genre emanating from the more developed capitalist world. However, despite the contemporary popularity and critical attention enjoyed by films from Asia and Latin America in particular, Third Cinema appears to have lost its momentum. This article wants to bring Third Cinema back to attention. There is an endless debate about Third Cinema and its strategies in offering valuables tools of documenting social reality. The idea of Third Cinema was raised in the s as a set of radical manifestos and low-budget experimental movies by a group of Latin American filmmakers, who defined a cinema in opposition to Hollywood and European models.
Third Cinema films aspire to be socially realistic portrayals of life and emphasize topics and issues such as poverty , national and personal identity , tyranny and revolution , colonialism , class, and cultural practices. Third Cinema was rooted in Marxist aesthetics generally and was influenced by the socialist sensibility of German dramatist Bertolt Brecht , the British social documentary developed by producer John Grierson , and post-World War II Italian Neorealism. Third Cinema filmmakers went beyond those predecessors to call for an end to the division between art and life and to insist on a critical and intuitive, rather than a propagandist , cinema in order to produce a new emancipatory mass culture. Ethiopian-born American cinema scholar Teshome Gabriel identified a three-phase path along which films have emerged from Third World countries. In the first phase, assimilationist films, such as those of Bollywood in India, follow those of Hollywood in focusing on entertainment and technical virtuosity and de-emphasize local subject matter. In the second phase, films feature local control of production and are about local culture and history, but they tend to romanticize the past while neglecting social transformation. Despite their geographical and historical specificity, Third Cinema films do not conform to any one aesthetic strategy but instead employ whatever formal techniques—mainstream or avant-garde—that suit the subject at hand.
Of the major film movements that have been conceived so far, Third Cinema is currently one of the most generally overlooked. Nevertheless, one fairly open but reasonable explanation for such oversight can very well be traced to weakening didactic policies concerning international affairs in secondary schools. The term Third Cinema, which was first billed by Argentinean filmmakers Octavio Getino and Fernando Solanas in their manifesto Towards a Third Cinema; made reference to the territorial classification design used during the Cold War. Solanas and Getino applied that same notion to their project and decided to label a first cinema meant for lucrative purposes and a second cinema the auteur take on creative endeavors , both of which they opposed. Their conception of Third Cinema was meant to be a militant reaction against any form of authoritarian oppression, particularly concerning neocolonialism.
In an interview given to the New Left Review, the Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier relates an anecdote about a small fishing village in Venezuela where all the inhabitants are black. As he got to know the village people, they often told him about the Poet who enjoyed a great deal of prestige among them. The Poet had been away for quite a while, and they missed him. One day the Poet, a colossal man, reappeared. That night by the sea all the villagers, from children to old folk, gathered to hear him recite. With a ritual gesture and deep voice, he told the story of Charlemagne, in a version similar to that of the 'Song of Roland.