Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

"Hollywood, Nuestra América y Los Latinos" by Ana López Published in Cuba

November 2nd, 2012

Earlier this year, the book Hollywood, Nuestra América y los Latinos (Hollywood, Our América, and the Latino) by Ana M. López, director of the Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute, was translated into Spanish and published by Ediciones Unión in Havana, Cuba.

The book received a glowing review by Cuban poet and critic Luis Álvarez Álvarez on the Cuban film blog La Pupile Insomne. The book of ten essays, Álvarez writes, transcends the topic of cinema to present a broader reflection on Iberoamerican modernity, resulting in “a well-calibrated meditation on our America.”

According to Álvarez, López restores early Latin American cinema to its rightful place in the cultural terrain of the American subcontinent, establishing film as an important tool for understanding the region’s struggle for modernity during the first half of the twentieth century. Whereas most film scholarship, at least in Cuba, skims over this period and focuses on the cinema post-1959, López reevaluates the complex links between the early cinema of the American subcontinent and the cultural processes that were developed therein.

Álvarez also argues that López contextualizes early cinema in discourses of modernity that were simultaneously occurring in intellectual circles, such as José Vasconcelos’ concept of la raza cosmica (the cosmic race) and José Martí‘s essay Nuestra América (Our America). Film, she argues, played an important role in forging both a Latin American identity and a Latin American modernity. She asserts, “early cinema contributed to the building of strong nationalist discourses on modernity” because it “captured and accompanied the vertiginous modernization of the urban sectors.”

The essays span a range of topics related to cinema. “Crossing Countries and Genres: Traveling Directors” examines the general process of Latin American co-productions, revealing what López calls “the intercontinental forces of the classic period.” In “Our Welcomed Guests: Telenovelas in Latin America,” she examines the telenovela as a form of cinematic melodrama with a different cultural trajectory. “The telenovela,” she writes, “has served to create a televisual ‘nation’ where the imagined community congregates around concrete images of itself.”

Álvarez concludes, “Written with clairvoyant perception and the goal of understanding Latin American culture through cinema, Ana López’s book is one of the most distinguished of 2012.”

Hollywood, Nuestra América y los Latinos by Ana López (Havana: Ediciones Union, 2012)