Book Review: 'The Film Edge: Contemporary Filmmaking in Latin America'

By Amber Shields

Sometimes it’s best not to start with the very beginning. Starting at the end, or thematically, at the present, the last section of The Film Edge: Contemporary Filmmaking in Latin America finally offers the most in-depth look at the subject outlined by its title.  By raising questions of “Genres, Formats, Projects”, authors in this section bring forth some of the most pressing questions of the present as Latin American film struggles to redefine itself in a new age.  Outlining the challenges short films face and the creativity it thus inspires in her essay “The Audiovisual Arts in Argentina: Possible Horizons”, Mariela Cantú writes a metaphor for Latin American film production in general, one that can be engaged in understanding all of the examples in this book, whether talking about the past, present, or future.  Latin American cinema has always and is always confronted by challenges, but these are what inspire some of its most enduring art. 

While offering brief previews of the past, the most interesting questions raised are those of the future as ultimately the book seems to ask “Where is the Film Edge?”. Whether examining the works of specific auteurs, like Lisandro Alonso, and how they individually push the edge, or opening up for a dialogue about the inclusion of new forms, as in the essays by Paulo Pécora and Jorge La Ferla who discuss everything from changes in technology and production to changes in distribution, the essays in this book present various subjects that must be further elaborated upon in discussions of the future of Latin American film.

The Film Edge: Contemporary Filmmaking in Latin America offers a good starting point for further discussion on how Latin American film in the past has responded to and excelled in spite of challenges that face these films at all levels, from production to distribution, and how it continues to react to new challenges by further pushing the film edge.  While this book is undeniably Argentine centric, it offers various points of contention applicable to all Latin America cinema.  In that vain it offers a few essays on Central American, Peruvian, and Paraguayan cinema in an attempts to subvert the traditional examination of Latin American cinema which only seems to recognize the biggest producers: Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico. The Film Edge raises several important questions, such as the inclusion of “other” Latin American cinema in the general discussion on film from this region, thus serving as a noteworthy introduction to a debate on the current state of Latin American filmmaking.

The book is published by the TyPA Foundation with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and is and available on Amazon and other online bookstores. The authors: José Carlos Avellar (Brazil)/ Ricardo Bedoya (Peru)/ Mariela Cantú (Argentina)/ Américo Castilla (Argentina)/ Luciano Castillo (Cuba)/ María Lourdes Cortés (Costa Rica)/ Malena Di Bastiano (Argentina)/ Andrés Di Tella (Argentina)/ Mauricio Durán (Colombia)/ Paz Encina (Paraguay)/ Daniela Goggi (Argentina)/ Carmen Guarini (Argentina)/ Jorge La Ferla (Argentina)/ Marcos Loayza (Bolivia)/ Gustavo Montiel Pagés (México)/ David Oubiña / Paulo Pécora (Argentina)/ Jorge Ruffinelli (Chile)/ Eduardo A. Russo (Argentina). Translations from the Spanish by Heather Cleary Wolfgang.