Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
de la Garza, Armida
On the Road to Silk and Gold: 1st Sino-Latin American Symposium
Culture, Arts & Design, Society & Spatial Studies
Ningbo, China
Invited Lectures (Conference)
Optional Fields
It has been claimed that a comparative approach to film studies, what has been called ‘the juxtaposition of constellations of representational practices’ (Stam, 2003) is a cross-cultural, dialogical approach that makes entire cultures and film traditions susceptible to ‘mutual illumination’ (Bakhtin). Drawing from this approach, this paper would consider Chinese and Mexican cinema in the 20th century, to argue there is a parallel history and a convergent trajectory. In both China and Mexico, a national cinema led by the Parties in power became a powerful nation-building instrument during the first half of the twentieth century. A didactic function was ascribed to film, and their respective revolutions featured large in both cinematic traditions. ‘The Logic of the Wound’ (Berry & Farquhar, 2003) as the origins of nationalist narratives underpins a number of historical films in both countries, devoted to the Opium Wars in China and to ‘foreign interventions’ in Mexico. Gendered interpretations of history were often expressed on film: the martial arts genre has Chinese fighters defeating China’s most relevant ‘Others’, i.e. Japanese or Western rivals, while in Mexican cinema it is a boxer aiming to defeat Americans. In China, putting local operas into film was part of the process of turning regional culture into national culture; and in Mexico, attempts to express a ‘national essence’ on film resulted in the work of the Mexicanista School and the allegedly ‘third’ non-Western style of filmmaking of Gabriel Figueroa and Emilio Fernández. After neoliberalism was embraced in both Mexico and China, the younger generations of filmmakers there have tended to produce equally disengaged, apolitical, ‘postmodern’ films while more established directors Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro have all become participants of a global film industry that both affirms and questions traditional narratives of belonging in their countries of origin. The paper would explore these aspects in some detail, in the expectation that the comparison will shed new light on their similarities, differences, and also their shared historical contexts.
University of Nottingham Ningbo