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Film Studies: National Cinemas

This guide highlights selected resources for various national cinemas.

Introduction to Colombian cinema

Local filmmaking began in 1905 but despite the country’s large cinemagoing public, until recently there has not been a substantial local feature film industry because Colombian cinema screens have been dominated by foreign films, mostly from Mexico and the US: between 1930 and 1950, for example, only about ten Colombian features were made. Since 1960, Colombia has hosted the Cartagena International Film Festival, and during the 1960s a group of filmmakers who had trained abroad—at IDHEC in France and at the Centro Sperimentale in Italy—returned to Colombia (see film school). A body of documentary work followed, ranging from the ethnographic cinéma vérité-inspired works Chircales/Brickmakers (1972) and Campesinos/Peasants (1975) by Colombia’s leading documentary makers, Marta Rodriguez and Jorge Silva, to radical interventions such as Carlos Alvares’s Qué es la democracia?/What is Democracy? (1971). In 1971, a ‘surcharge law’ decreed that Colombian-made films be exhibited at first-run cinemas, and a quota system was put in place with the aim of encouraging production and distribution of Colombian films. In 1978 FOCINE, the National Film Development Agency, was established as part of the Ministry of Communications to support both feature also documentary filmmaking: it proved the most successful operation of its kind in Latin America outside Cuba’s ICAIC, and under its auspices Colombia saw an increase in local film production: an important film of this period was the popular Gamín/Waif, Ciro Durán’s 1981 feature-length documentary about the street children of Bogotá. One of the noteworthy aspects of cinema culture in Colombia is the relatively high level of female participation in documentary making: for example, aside from Marta Rodriguez’s seminal contributions, the all-female collective Cine Mujer produced a number of documentaries during the 1980s that have been referenced in studies of feminist cinema.

FOCINE closed in 1992, and there was little further state support for local filmmaking until the Film Law of 2003 (revised 2013) reactivated film production, increased international collaborations, and greatly increased the visibility of Colombian cinema in the transnational sphere; with successes including El abrazo de la serpiente/Embrace of the Serpent (Ciro Guerra, Colombia/Venezuela/Argentia, 2015), the first Colombian film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film; and La tierra y la sombra/Land and Shade (Cesar Acevedo, Colombia/France/Netherlands/Chile/Brazil, 2015), which won the Camera d’Or at Cannes. In recent years annual features output has risen to the extent that it is claimed the country will soon overtake Argentina as the third-largest film market in Latin America.

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Colombia, film in. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 5 Apr. 2024

In the library's collections/Searching the online catalog

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Other library resource(s)

Finding scholarly articles and journal title(s)

You can find scholarly literature for film and television studies in a variety of journals. However, if you want to do targeted searching, you can use a subject specific database such as Film & Television Literature Index. You can also use the search box at the top of the page.

Selected movie title(s)

Find more Colombian films in the Library's online catalog.

Internet resource(s)

Keeping up with Film Studies journal literature

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