Re-Framing Independence in Mexican Cinema: Marcela Fernández Violante a Pioneering Filmmaker

Thornton, Niamh ORCID: 0000-0001-7513-8555
Re-Framing Independence in Mexican Cinema: Marcela Fernández Violante a Pioneering Filmmaker. In: Latin American Women Filmmakers: Production, Politics, Poetics. IB Tauris. (In Press)

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Born in 1941 and graduated from the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográfico in 1969, Marcela Fernández Violante has been a formidable pioneering figure in Mexican cinema. She was the director of the CUEC from 1984-8 and one of the first women admitted into the film director’s union. Many of her films have received awards and critical acclaim. Despite her industrial and university prominence, and the repeated recognition of her importance in film histories, especially as a representative of a growing number of women filmmakers, her work is little studied by academics. This is for a variety of reasons: her early work, while independent in aesthetic, thematic and narrative terms, was made within the studio system; unlike many other women filmmakers, her films cannot be easily categorised as feminist; and she often tackles historical figures who are out of political favour. In sum, her output is difficult to place along the lines of previous studies of this period of Mexican film. The history of Mexican cinema has long been told in terms of a progressive development from the decline of the studios from the late 1950s to the birth and growth of the independent sector in the late 1960s and early 1970s (see, for example, Mora (1989), and Hershfield and Maciel, (1996)). This framing privileges a select few male auteurs, colours them as politically radical, and suggests that there was a dramatic break from the previous aesthetic and technical model of the studio filmmakers. The transition was neither as independent nor absolute as has been suggested. Yet, the frameworks applied have encouraged subsequent critics to create a canon made up of independent filmmakers, on the one hand, who are worthy of study, and studio workers who should be ignored, on the other. The filmmakers who fit into this prescribed auteurist model have received critical attention, whilst others, such as Fernández Violante, challenge the neat categorisations and have, therefore, been ignored. There is a need to reconsider this idea of a sudden break with the past and Fernández Violante is an ideal case study. Drawing on multiple interviews with her (for example, Iglesias and Fregoso (1998) and Medrano Platas (1999), archival research, and close readings of a selection of her early films, De todos modos Juan te llamas (1976), Cananea (1978), y Misterio (1980), I shall interrogate how historiography and gender identification have determined how her career has been read and how her work has been overlooked. This chapter aims to examine her output and consider how she blurs accepted critical models forcing us to re-frame their supposed neatness.

Item Type: Book Section
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Date Deposited: 06 May 2016 08:39
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 07:37