Latin American Perspectives: Special Issue on Documentary Film

Political Documentary Film and Video in the Southern Cone: Argentina, Chile and Uruguay (1950s-2000s)
Issue Editors:
Antonio Traverso (Curtin University) and Tomás Crowder-Taraborrelli (Soka University of America)

Since the late 1950s the work of documentary filmmakers from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay has addressed a profoundly diverse range of socio-historical conditions. In these three South American countries, documentary cameras have recorded and participated in movements for radical social transformation inspired by the Cuban revolution, struggles against the dictatorships that suppressed the former, and the political activism within the more recent parliamentary democracies that have failed to resolve the deep ideological and social crises brought to the region by neoliberal reform. Additionally, political documentary films and videos in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have displayed a wide array of resources and approaches to the treatment of their themes, often involving a combination of directorial authority—both individual and collective—and the critical distance brought about by the camera. The documentary’s specific production strategies and cinematic style have not only enriched public debate but also resulted in the genre’s transformation into a tool of political activism, social denunciation, and even judicial persecution of perpetrators of atrocities. In these conflict-laden historical circumstances, Argentine, Chilean and Uruguayan political documentary filmmakers have often played an immediate role within counter-hegemonic struggles, ideological debate, political organization and education, human rights violation investigations, and the creation of public audio-visual archives.

With Antonio Traverso and Kristi Wilson

In addition to the work of auteurs, such as internationally known Patricio Guzmán and Fernando Solanas, the documentary practice of activist collectives has also been of critical importance in the three countries. Following the now legendary influence of Fernando Birri’s School of Documentary Film of Santa Fé in the 1960s, a myriad of documentary cinema collectives have emerged in the past three decades in direct opposition to conditions of poverty, injustice and violence, such as Grupo Alavio, Cine Liberación, Cine de la Base, Argentina Arde and Cine Piquetero in Argentina, and Grupo Proceso, Grupo Ictus, Eco and Nueva Imagen in Chile. The poignant body of cinematic and theoretical work of some of these collectives reverberates in contemporary documentary production in diverse parts of the continent.

LAP editorial board

Despite the impressive body of work outlined above, only limited scholarly research exists on this topic to date, and studies have mostly focused on artistic, literary and cinematic engagements with public processes of memorialization in the region. Meanwhile, the role played by documentary film and video in these countries’ political events has been given only scattered critical attention. Thus, for this special issue of Latin American Perspectives we would like to invite international film scholars to discuss the different strategies used by Argentine, Chilean and Uruguayan documentary filmmakers (and their partners in other regions of the world) to document and intervene in social reality, as well as to imagine and reflect on not only the political past but also the future of these three South American nations. We will consider scholarly analyses of documentary films and videos produced by filmmakers in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay (as well as by exiled directors) that engage with human rights, the social and economic collapse caused by the expansion of neoliberalism in the region, and the struggles for social and political transformation by political movements in these three countries between the 1950s and 2000s.

We invite essays about Argentine, Chilean, and particularly Uruguayan political documentary that explore one or more of the themes alluded to above; or one or more of the following themes:
* the politics of labor, for example, workers’ unions, histories of work, factory takeovers, worker’s strikes and upheavals, memories and cultures of work
* the politics of race, for example, Indigenous communities and struggles, politics of representation of ethnicity and national identity, diasporas and racism
* the politics of gender and/or sexuality
* the politics of technology (for example, digital video, streaming, downloading) and how it has changed the way in which documentary activists do and understand their work
* international ideological and aesthetic influences on political documentary
* filmmakers in exile; imagining the nation from outside the nation
* documentary film and international solidarity movements
Please contact the issue editors about potential submissions to avoid duplication of topics.

Submitting Manuscripts

Manuscripts should be no longer than 25 pages (approximately 7,000-7,500 words) of double-spaced 12 point text with 1 inch margins, including notes and references, and paginated. Please follow the LAP style guide which is available at www.latinamericanperspectives.comunder the “Submissions” tab. Please use the “About” tab for the LAP Mission Statement and details about the manuscript review process.
Manuscripts may be submitted in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. If submitting in Spanish or Portuguese, please indicate if you will have difficulty reading correspondence from the LAP office in English.

Buenos Aires, INCAA

All manuscripts should be original work that has not been published in English and that is not being submitted to or considered for publication elsewhere in identical or similar form.
If you plan to submit images with your manuscript, please contact the LAP office for specifications.
Please feel free to contact the Issue Editor with questions pertaining to the issue but be sure that manuscripts are sent to the LAP office by e-mail to: with the subject line – “Your name – MS for Documentary issue”
In addition to electronic submission (e-mail, or CD-R or floppy disk if unable to send by e-mail) if possible submit two print copies including a cover sheet and basic biographical and contact information to:
Managing Editor, Latin American Perspectives¸ P.O. Box 5703, Riverside, California 92517-5703.
Editor contact information:
Tomás Crowder-Taraborrelli –
Antonio Traverso –

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