Cinema and Media Studies Argentine Cinema
Jessica Stites Mor, Nicolas Poppe
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 August 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 March 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0246


The field of Argentine cinema studies can be said to have begun in earnest with the publication of film journalist Domingo Di Núbila’s landmark two-volume history of Argentina’s film history in 1959 and 1960, Historia del cine argentino (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Cruz de Malta). A work of tremendous range and scope, Di Núbila’s history not only provided a synopsis and critique of an abundance of individual films but also examined the influence of professional associations and industry, more broadly speaking. Perhaps due to the comprehensiveness of these volumes, minimal scholarly publishing on Argentine cinema followed until the 1970s, when interest in political cinema propelled Argentine cinema into the global spotlight. Scholarly writing about Argentine film in Europe, the United States, and, to a certain extent, Cuba during this period of heightened Cold War tensions tended to focus on questions of the political and the techniques of radical cinema. Writers from outside Argentina focused predominantly on films being made contemporaneously that engaged questions of colonialism, violence, social movements, and revolution. However, by the late 1970s and early 1980s, filmmakers themselves took on the task of building a new media studies that centered on Latin American cinema with interests in questions of industry, cultural imperialism, and consumption at the core of their inquiry. By the 1980s and early 1990s, growing interest in Argentine filmmaking among academic audiences both at home and abroad culminated in the emergence of a local film studies culture in Argentina that was finally dominated by scholars rather than biographers or filmmakers. This wave of scholarship converged around questions related to the 1976–1983 dictatorship and the subsequent democratic opening. Since 2001, a new wave of interest in Argentine film following the financial crisis has pushed scholarship beyond political questions to engage more seriously with aesthetic and conceptual aspects of national films. However, booming grassroots documentary production in the new digital era captured the interest of nontraditional film scholars interested in media politics, social movements, gender and sexuality, and film as a mode of communication more broadly.

Regional Overviews

There are several excellent general overviews of Latin American cinema that have a particular strength in their coverage of Argentine cinema, such as Barnard and Rist 1996 and Foster 2013. Argentine cinema is also frequently discussed in texts on world cinema, comparative studies of radical filmmaking, and, more recently, treatments of the aesthetics of neorealism. In world cinema texts, it is often used as a regional case study to contrast with the cinemas of countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, generally, as the Third Cinema movement created networks, affinities, and connections among filmmakers in these regions, although these texts are not within the scope of this article. Because Argentine cinema is one of only four major cinemas of scale in the region, with Mexico, Cuba, and Brazil being the other three, it tends to receive proportional treatment in most regional studies of early film culture, industrial development, technologies of filmmaking, and period-based studies of specific cinematic trends or movements, such as in King 2000 or Schnitman 1984. Three of the most valuable critical sources on regional cinema and the New Latin American Cinema movement are Pick 1993, Martin 1997, and Burton 1990.

  • Barnard, Timothy, and Peter Rist, eds. South American Cinema: A Critical Filmography, 1915–1994. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 1077. New York: Garland, 1996.

    This work was one of the first of its kind, broad ranging and descriptive. Selected films of the cinemas of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela are given rich treatment of technical, industrial, and critical aspects. The section on Argentina gives special attention to cinema of the early national and the post-dictatorship periods.

  • Burton, Julianne, ed. The Social Documentary in Latin America. Pitt Latin American. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990.

    While this volume sets out to cover the entire region, much of the contents are concerned with the activities of Argentine political filmmakers and their counterparts as they interact in various key sites of cinema activism during the Cold War. Robert Stam’s contribution on Fernando “Pino” Solanas’s Hour of the Furnaces (Hora de los hornos) is a seminal essay on what New Latin American Cinema meant to the region and how Argentine filmmakers asserted their political agency and creative powers during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

  • Foster, David William. Latin American Documentary Filmmaking: Major Works. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2013.

    A critical consideration of the documentary genre and its progression since the 1910s, but focused on key moments between the 1950s and 1980s. Argues that more-recent work has challenged the “masculinist enterprise” of the documentary mode of filmmaking.

  • King, John. Magical Reels: A History of Cinema in Latin America. 2d ed. Critical Studies in Latin American and Iberian Cultures. London: Verso, 2000.

    Charts the growth and development of film industries in Latin America. Still a major reference on the subjects of North American influence on film markets and technological developments of cinema in the region. Examines case studies of national cinemas from different periods, including a section on film under Peronism. Second edition includes a discussion of cinema and globalization during the 1990s that does not appear in the first.

  • Martin, Michael T., ed. New Latin American Cinema. 2 vols. Contemporary Film and Television. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997.

    This excellent two-volume set (Vol. 1, Theory, Practices, and Transcontinental Articulations; Vol. 2, Studies of National Cinemas) is the most useful reference available on the intellectual and aesthetic projects of the New Latin American Cinema movement. It includes manifestos and reflections from key figures such as Fernando Birri and Octavio Getino, critical essays by leading film scholars, and a small set of primary documents that place the movement in context. The second volume of the set includes country case studies.

  • Pick, Zuzana M. The New Latin American Cinema: A Continental Project. Texas Film Studies. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993.

    A thorough analysis of twenty key films of the New Latin American Cinema movement, rooted in historical and sociological analysis with notes on institutional and aesthetic developments of filmmaking in the late 1960s. Pays particular attention to issues of ethnicity and gender, often absent in other works on the subject.

  • Schnitman, Jorge A. Film Industries in Latin America: Dependency and Development. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1984.

    While its rough sketch of the industrial history of Latin American film, which has a chapter dedicated to Argentina, has since been filled in and amended by numerous other texts, this often-cited book is an important early contribution in English.

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