In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Contemporary Indigenous Film and Video Production

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews: Indigenous Visual Media
  • Latin American Indigenous Film and Documentary
  • Declarations and Manifests on Indigenous Communication
  • Indigenous Film Festival Catalogues: Filmography
  • Interviews with Indigenous Filmmakers
  • Online Indigenous Films, Videos, and TV Programs: Watch It Now!

Latin American Studies Contemporary Indigenous Film and Video Production
Juan Carlos Grijalva
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 June 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0271


In recent decades, Latin American Indigenous peoples have transformed films, documentaries, animations, music videos, TV programs, and other audiovisual productions into fundamental tools of their own social, political, and cultural struggle for self-determination and self-representation. To say it simply, Indigenous self-determination means here the collective right of Indigenous peoples to be the media producers and proprietors of their own images, voices, and forms of communication. Likewise, other contemporary forms of Indigenous cultural production, such as contributions in literature (see the Oxford Bibliographies in Latin American Studies article Indigenous Voices in Literature) and social science as well as critical thought, film, and video Indigenous appropriations are challenging the long-lasting silence, racism, and exclusion imposed over these populations. By becoming the media agents of their own voices and images, Latin American Indigenous peoples are not only giving new sociopolitical meanings to audiovisual technologies and filmmaking; but they are also decolonizing hegemonic forms of communication that have misrepresented and stereotyped them. Unlike Hollywood commercial films, low-budget Indigenous audiovisual productions are rooted in the collective need of defending their native territories, their political organizations and social projects, and their own cultural identities, worldviews, traditions, and native languages. Indigenous film and video productions are not purely individual projects, driven by economic profit and dominant ideological interests; rather, they are a communitarian, transnational, intercultural, and multilingual enterprise in which the same members of a community or extended family actively participate behind and/or in front of the cameras. Films and videos have become an essential part of Indigenous contemporary creative expression and cultural survival as well as tools for their political demands and social projects. This article provides a preliminary exploration of contemporary Indigenous film and video production in Latin America. Key national and international Indigenous film festivals; film catalogues; audiovisual projects and organizations; online Indigenous films, videos, and TV programs as well as a growing number of research studies, interviews with filmmakers, and manifests and declarations on Indigenous communication are considered. A modest tribute is made to all Indigenous peoples who are transforming audiovisual communication into a form of liberation.

General Overviews: Indigenous Visual Media

Latin American contemporary Indigenous film and video production is currently studied from a multiplicity of academic fields and perspectives, including visual anthropology, mass media, film and cultural studies, and decolonial studies, among others. Cunha and da Silva 2018 and Maurer Queipo 2012 study the connections among Latin American film, human rights, and social movements. Ginsburg, et al. 2002 and Nugent 2007 discuss and use new anthropological perspectives linked to film studies and visualities. In contrast to these, MacDougall 1998 and Navarro and Rodríguez 2014 interrogate how contemporary Latin American film or documentary production has incorporated new transcultural, intercultural, and anthropological scopes. Finally, D’Lugo, et al. 2018 and Richards 2011 provide comprehensive overviews of the themes, breadth, and diversity of Latin American film production today. These works constitute only a handful of the studies available in this area.

  • Cunha, Mariana, and Antônio Márcio da Silva, eds. Human Rights, Social Movements and Activism in Contemporary Latin American Cinema. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

    According to the publisher, this edited collection explores how contemporary Latin American cinema has dealt with and represented issues of human rights, moving beyond many of the recurring topics for Latin American films. Chapters in the volume explore the prison system, state violence, the Mexican dirty war, the Chilean dictatorship, debt, transnational finance, Indigenous rights, social movement, urban occupation, the right to housing, intersectionality, and LGBT and women’s rights in the context of a number of Latin American countries.

  • D’Lugo, Marvin, Ana M. López, and Laura Podalsky, eds. The Routledge Companion to Latin American Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2018.

    The publisher affirms that this volume is the most comprehensive survey of Latin American cinemas available in a single volume. The book examines the recent “new cinemas” in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico.

  • Ginsburg, Faye D., Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin. Media Worlds. Anthropology on New Terrain. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1525/9780520928169

    From the emerging anthropological field of the ethnography of media, which studies how media (film, television, video) is used in different societies around the globe, the contributors to this book cover topics ranging from Indigenous media projects to the local impact of film and television that has become a transnational phenomenon.

  • MacDougall, David. Transcultural Cinema. Edited by Lucien Taylor. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.

    As a theorist, documentary filmmaker David MacDougall conceptually articulates here the connections between film and anthropology, the difference between films and written texts or between the filmmaker and the anthropological writer, among other subjects. This reflection also provides an overview of the history of visual anthropology.

  • Maurer Queipo, Isabel, ed. Socio-critical Aspects in Latin American Cinema(s): Themes—Countries—Directors—Reviews. Romania Viva 11. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2012.

    This anthology provides an overview of the sociopolitical cinema in Latin America, in addition to sociohistorical and cinematic topics such as film and history, guerrilla filmmaking, and Indigenous cinema.

  • Navarro, Vinicius, and Juan Carlos Rodríguez, eds. New Documentaries in Latin America. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

    The publisher states that this edited book addresses topics such as documentary aesthetics, Indigenous media, and transnational filmmaking, while also explaining the vast breadth and diversity of contemporary documentary production, and the situation of nonfiction film and video within the cultural, political, and socioeconomic history of the region.

  • Nugent, Stephen. Scoping the Amazon: Image, Icon, and Ethnography. New York: Routledge, 2007.

    Savage cannibal or utopian proto-environmentalist? In this book, Nugent examines popular images of Amazon peoples in film and general books as well as changing anthropological views of the rain forest and its people. The book depicts the field of anthropology as its own form of culture industry and contrasts it to other similar industries, past and present.

  • Richards, Keith John. Themes in Latin American Cinema: A Critical Survey. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011.

    A total of 18 films from across Latin America are analyzed. Crucial themes identified and explored in Latin American film including the Indigenous image, sexuality, childhood, female protagonists, crime, corruption, fratricidal wars, and writers as characters.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.