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Unit information: Introduction to Latin American Cinema in 2020/21

Unit name Introduction to Latin American Cinema
Unit code HISP20114
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Paul Merchant
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Faculty Faculty of Arts


In this unit, students will be introduced to key movements and moments in Latin American cinema, ranging from the politically engaged filmmaking of the 1960s to experimental documentaries of the early 21st century. The unit covers films from across the region, from Mexico and Colombia to Brazil and Chile. Students will learn the skills of film criticism and analysis, in addition to knowledge of relevant historical, social and theoretical contexts. Students will be encouraged to consider how films are both shaped by and influence the environments in which they are made. Key themes to be explored may include gender and sexuality, dictatorship, political ideologies and economic crisis.

Intended learning outcomes

  1. Illustrate a broad knowledge of key developments in Latin American cinema, from the mid-20th century to the present;
  2. Show an awareness of the key historical and socio-political contexts to which the films relate;
  3. Apply critical awareness of theoretical scholarship in the field of study and the ability to articulate a critical position in both oral and written form;
  4. Develop sophisticated film analysis skills;
  5. Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation

Assessment Details

1 x group film review podcast (30%) testing ILOs 1-5

1 x comparative coursework essay (2500 words) (70%) testing ILOs 1-4

Reading and References

Indicative filmography:

Los olvidados (Luis Buñuel, Mexico, 1950)

Fresa y chocolate (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Cuba, 1994)

Nueve reinas (Fabián Bielinsky, Argentina, 2000)

La niña santa (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 2004)

Santiago (João Moreira Salles, Brazil, 2006)

El abrazo de la serpiente (Ciro Guerra, Colombia, 2015)

Indicative secondary reading:

John King, Magical Reels: A History of Cinema in Latin America (2000)

Deborah Martin, The Cinema of Lucrecia Martel (2016)

Joanna Page, Crisis and Capitalism in Contemporary Argentine Cinema (2009)

Rachel Randall, Children on the Threshold in Contemporary Latin American Cinema (2017)