This part of the course aims to introduce students to the theoretical and methodological paradigms surrounding the concept of national cinema by focusing on Brazilian cinema from the late 1950s through to the present date. The module aims to examine the ways in which aspects of history and cultural formation have been variously appropriated, exploited and contested in the Brazilian cinematic canon in relation to discourses of national identity. By looking at a wide range of films and situating them within domestic and international contexts, the module aims to explore as well as interrogate the usefulness of the national cinema model for studies of cinema and film history as a whole.
The first part of the module will look at a selection of films associated with the Cinema Novo in the late 1950s and beyond. A key moment in the cinematic history of Brazil, this canonical movement evidenced an effort on the part of filmmakers to critically engage with pressing social issues while tapping into local cultural traditions and discourses of national identity.
The second part of the module will look at the period known as the Brazilian Film Revival (or the retomada) in the late 1990s, after cinema in Brazil came to an unprecedented halt upon the dismantling of the state-funded Embrafilme in 1992. This part will examine how retomada films demonstrated, on the one hand, a quest to update fundamental tropes and settings associated with Cinema Novo as part of a self-conscious effort to renew a national cinematic project and, on the other, an increasing awareness of the international film market and global culture at large.
The last part of the module will be devoted to understanding new trends in Brazilian cinema, such as the new queer cinema and the pronounced visibility of the middle-class in the country’s recent film output. These trends will be examined in relation to the social changes Brazil witnessed in the last decade and in the context of transnational flows of film consumption and distribution as represented by the international film festival.