HomeResources for TeachingIndigenous Representation in Latin American Cinema

Indigenous Representation in Latin American Cinema

Introduction

This module, “Indigenous Representation in Latin American Cinema'', focuses on films that include or portray indigenous communities, cultures, and languages from Latin America or Abya Yala, a term meaning Tierra Madura or Tierra Viva ("Land of Plenitude and Maturity") used by indigenous groups, activists and scholars to refer to the American continents.  Our research project resulted in the addition of more than 60 films to the database, as well as the expansion of our thematic tags and relevant subject headings to help users search for films that focus on the representation of indigenous people and communities in Latin America and for contemporary indigenous media production. In addition, this resource page includes an annotated bibliography of publications designed for educators who are interested in the representation of indigenous subjects, the lasting effects of colonization and colonialism (past and present), and the cultural legacy of indigenous populations in Latin America --- through the lens of cinema. Finally, we provide a curated list of links to online resources focused on these topics for further exploration. We recognize that this module is not an exhaustive collection of films and academic publications, but rather a starting point for anyone who is looking to deepen their understanding of the indigenous experience as represented through film. We welcome suggestions for additional films and readings

Search Terms (Subject Headings & Tags)

One of the most important elements of a useful database is the selection and accurate deployment of broad subject headings and precise tags that can identify thematic foci of interest to the user. Our examination of approved Library of Congress (LC) Subject Terms, author-supplied keywords, terminology employed in the field of Indigenous/First Nation Studies, and Spanish-language equivalents revealed a wide variation of subject headings and topics used, currently and historically, to refer to the representation of indigeneity in Latin American cinema and indigenous filmmaking. For the purposes of our bilingual film database, we decided on the following broad subject headings. Clicking on the link below will provide the most up-to-date results of related film titles in our database: 

We added the following tags to more precisely identify sub-collections of films within the broader subject of “Indigenous cultures”. Users can explore these collections through the Tags resource

If you are conducting further research on these topics beyond Cinegogía, you may also find the following search terms helpful: 

Annotated Bibliography of Resources

Download the complete annotated bibliography by clicking here for printer-friendly PDF
Updated: November 6, 2021

Indigenous Filmmaking & Media Practices

Aufderheide, Pat. "'You See the World of the Other and You Look at Your Own': The Evolution of the Video in the Villages Project." Journal of Film and Video, vol. 60, no. 2, 2008, pp. 26-34. 

Brasil, André. "Tikmũ’ũn’s Caterpillar-Cinema: Off-Screen Space and Cosmopolitics in Amerindian Film." Space and Subjectivity in Contemporary Brazilian Cinema, edited by Antônio Márcio da Silva and Mariana Cunha, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, pp. 23-40.

Cardús i Font, Laura. "Indigenous media: transference to appropriation." Anthrovision, vol. 2, no. 1, 2014, pp. 2-15. OpenEdition Journals, doi: 10.4000/anthrovision.668.

Córdova, Amalia. "Reenact, Reimagine: Performative Indigenous Documentaries of Bolivia and Brazil." New Documentaries in Latin America, edited by Vinicius Navarro and Juan Carlos Rodríguez, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, pp. 145-165.

Dowell, Kristin. "Indigenous Media Gone Global: Strengthening Indigenous Identity On‐ and Offscreen at the First Nations\First Features Film Showcase." American Anthropologist, vol. 108, no. 2, 2006, pp. 376-384. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3804799.

Freitas, Luciana de Paula. "Mirada común a las visiones plurales: Los festivales de cine indígena en Brasil." Out from the Shadows: The Indigenous Presence in Twenty-First-Century Latin American Film, special issue of Diálogo, vol. 23, no. 1, Spring 2020, pp. 21-29. Project Muse, doi: 10.1353/dlg.2020.0003.

García Mingo, Elisa. "Imágenes y sonidos del Wall Mapu: El proyecto de descolonización del universo visual y sonoro del Pueblo Mapuche." EMPIRIA: Revista de Metodología de Ciencias Sociales, no. 35, sept-dic 2016, pp. 125–151.

Gleghorn, Charlotte. "Indigenous Filmmaking in Latin America." A Companion to Latin American Cinema, edited by Maria M. Delgado, Stephen Hart, and Randal Johnson, Wiley-Blackwell, 2017, pp. 167-186.

Gómez Menjívar, Jennifer and Gloria Elizabeth Chacón. Indigenous Interfaces: Spaces, Technology, and Social Networks in Mexico and Central America. University of Arizona Press, 2019.

González Hurtado, Argelia. "Shaping the Taraspanglish diaspora." Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, vol. 4, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 59-83. 

Köhler, Axel. "Nuestros antepasados no tenían cámara: el video como machete y otros retos de la video-producción indígena en Chiapas, México." Revista Chilena de Antropología Visual, no. 4, 2004, pp. 391-406. 

Kummels, Ingrid. Transborder Media Spaces: Ayuujk Videomaking Between Mexico and the US. Berghahn, 2017.

Magallanes Blanco, Claudia, y José Manuel Ramos Rodríguez, coordinadores. Miradas propias: pueblos indígenas, comunicación y medios en la sociedad global. Universidad Iberoamericana de Puebla, 2016. 

Mora, Pablo. Poéticas de la resistencia: el video indígena en Colombia. [Bogotá], Cinemateca Distrital, 2015. Disponible en: www.humanas.unal.edu.co/colantropos/files/7614/8582/5394/Poeticas_de_la_resistencia_el_video_indigena_en_Colombia.pdf

Pace, Richard. From Filmmaker Warriors to Flash Drive Shamans: Indigenous Media Production and Engagement in Latin America. Vanderbilt University Press, 2018.

Schiwy, Freya. The Open Invitation: Activist Video, Mexico, and the Politics of Affect. University of Pittsburg Press, 2019. 

---. "An Other Documentary Is Possible: Indy Solidarity Video and Aesthetic Politics." New Documentaries in Latin America, edited by Vinicius Navarro and Juan Carlos Rodríguez, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, pp. 145-165.

Schiwy, Freya and Byrt Wammack Weber. Adjusting the Lens: Community and Collaborative Video in Mexico. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.

Smith, Laurel C. "Mobilizing Indigenous Video: The Mexican Case." Journal of Latin American Geography, vol. 5, no. 1, 2006, pp. 113-128. Project Muse, doi: 10.1353/lag.2006.0012.

Wortham, Erica Cusi. "Between the State and Indigenous Autonomy: Unpacking Video Indígena in Mexico." American Anthropologist, vol. 106, no. 2, 2004, pp. 363–368. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/3566972

---. Indigenous Media in Mexico: Culture, Community, and the State. Duke University Press, 2013. 

Villarreal, Gabriela Zamorano. "Bolivian Indigenous Films and the Aesthetics of the Precarious." The Precarious in the Cinema of the Americas, edited by Constanza Burucúa and Carolina Sitnisky, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, pp. 201-220. 

---. Indigenous Media and Political Imaginaries in Contemporary Bolivia. University of Nebraska Press, 2017.

---. "'Intervenir en la realidad': usos políticos del video indígena en Bolivia." Revista Colombiana de Antropología, vol. 45, no. 2, julio-diciembre 2009, pp. 259-285. Redalyc, www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=105012402001.

Screening Indigeneity: 20th and 21st century Latin American Cinema

Alvaray, Luisela. "Imagin(ni)ng Indigenous Spaces: Self and Other Converge in Latin America." Film and History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television, vol. 34, no. 2, 2004.

Arenillas, María Guadalupe. "Indígenas de la Patagonia austral en el cine documental chileno: de 'objetos' a sujetos de derecho." Revista Cine Documental, no. 20, 2019, pp. 14-37. www.revista.cinedocumental.com.ar/indigenas-de-la-patagonia-austral-en-el-cine-documental-chileno-de-objetos-a-sujetos-de-derecho.

Betancourt, Manuel. "Cineando: Latin-American Indigeneity On-Screen." Film Quarterly, vol. 72, no.3, 2020, pp. 83-88. University of California Press, doi: 10.1525/fq.2020.73.3.83.

Cisneros, Vitelia. "Guaraní y quechua desde el cine en las propuestas de Lucía Puenzo, El niño pez, y Claudia Llosa, La teta asustada." Hispania, vol. 96, no. 1, 2013, pp. 51-61. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23608453.

Cunha, Mariana. “The Right to Nature: Contested Landscapes and Indigenous Territoriality in Martírio (2016).” Human Rights, Social Movements and Activism in Contemporary Latin American Cinema, edited by Mariana Cunha and Antônio Márcio da Silva, e-book, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, pp. 113-131. Springer Link, doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-96208-5.

D'Argenio, Maria Chiara. "A Contemporary Andean Type: The Representation of the Indigenous World in Claudia Llosa's Films." Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, vol. 8, no. 1, 2013, pp. 20-42. Taylor & Francis, doi:  10.1080/17442222.2013.768460.

---. Indigenous Plots in Twenty-First Century Latin American Cinema. Palgrave Macmillan, 2022. 

---. "Wiñaypacha by Oscar Catacora: Overcoming Indigenismo Through Intimacy and Slowness." Peruvian Cinema of the Twenty-First Century. Dynamic and Unstable Grounds, edited by Cynthia Vich and Sarah Barrow, Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, pp. 143-159. Springer, doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-52512-5_8.

Furtado, Gustavo. Documentary Filmmaking in Contemporary Brazil: Cinematic Archives of the Present. Oxford University Press, 2019. 

Jones, Dilys. "Territories, Existence and Identities: Indigenous Peoples in Argentine Films." Human Rights, Social Movements and Activism in Contemporary Latin American Cinema, edited by Mariana Cunha and Antônio Márcio da Silva, e-book, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, pp. 95-112. Springer Link, doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-96208-5.

Koper, Natalia. "The Unmaking of Indigeneity: Indigenous Representations in the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema." Poliarchia, vol. 5, no. 9, 2017, pp. 97-118. Poliarchia, doi: 10.12797/Poliarchia.05.2017.09.04.

Medina, Manuel, and Bridget Franco, guest editors. Out from the Shadows: The Indigenous Presence in Twenty-First-Century Latin American Film, special issue of Diálogo, vol. 23, no. 1, Spring 2020. Project Muse, muse.jhu.edu/issue/42456.

Ramirez-Berg, Charles. "The Indian Question." Cinema of Solitude, A Critical Study of Mexican Film, 1967-1983. University of Texas Press, 1992, pp. 137-156.

Tierney, Dolores. Emilio Fernández: Pictures in the Margins. Manchester University Press, 2007.

Tompkins, Cynthia. Affectual Erasure: Representations of Indigenous Peoples in Argentine Cinema. SUNY Press, 2018.

Helpful Concepts & Theory

Córdova, Amalia. "Estéticas enraizadas: aproximaciones al video indígena en América Latina." Comunicación y Medios, vol. 24, 2011, pp. 81-107. Instituto de la Comunicación e Imagen de la Universidad de Chile, doi: 10.5354/0719-1529.2012.19895.

Espinosa de Rivero, Óscar. "¿Guerreros o salvajes?: Los usos políticos de la imagen de los indígenas amazónicos en el espacio público mediático." Imaginación visual y cultura en el Perú, editado por Gisela Cánepa Koch, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2011, pp. 247-262. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, repositorio.pucp.edu.pe/index/handle/123456789/170201.

Ferman, Claudia. "Indígenas, indigenistas e indigeneidad en el cine latinoamericano reciente: Video Nas Aldeias, Juan Mora Catlett, Claudia Llosa." Cómo se piensa el cine latinoamericano: Aparatos epistemológicos, herramientas, líneas, fugas e intentos, edited by Francisco Montaña Ibáñez, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 2011, pp. 136-157.

Himpele, Jeff. Circuits of Culture: Media, Politics, and Indigenous Identity in the Andes. University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

Milligan, Christina. "Sites of exuberance: Barry Barclay and Fourth Cinema, ten years on." International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, vol. 11, no. 3, 2015, pp. 347-359. Intellect Limited, doi: 10.1386/macp.11.3.347_1.

Peeler, John A. "The Academic Uses of Lo Indígena." Review essay. Latin American Research Review, vol. 45, no. 1, 2010, pp. 233-243. 

Salazar, Juan Francisco. Imperfect Media: The Poetics of Indigenous Media in Chile. University of Western Sydney, PhD dissertation, 2004. handle.uws.edu.au:8081/1959.7/25273

Wilson, Pamela and Michelle Stewart. Introduction, "Indigeneity and Indigenous Media on the Global Stage." Global Indigenous Media: Cultures, Poetics, and Politics, Duke University Press, 2008, pp. 1-35.

Decolonization & Indigenous Representation

Córdoba, Amanda Alfaro. "Can María Speak?: Interpreting Ixcanul/ Volcano (2015) from a Decolonial Perspective." Studies in Spanish & Latin American Cinemas, vol. 15, no. 2, 2018, pp. 187-202. Intellect, doi: 10.1386/slac.15.2.187_1.

D’Argenio, Maria Chiara. "Decolonial encounters in Ciro Guerra’s El abrazo de la serpiente: indigeneity, coevalness and intercultural dialogue." Postcolonial Studies, vol. 21, no. 2, 2018, pp.131-153. Taylor & Francis, doi: 10.1080/13688790.2018.1466426.

Lehman, Kathryn. "Beyond Pluralism and Media Rights: Indigenous Communication for a Decolonizing Transformation of Latin America and Abya Yala." Latin American Perspectives, vol. 45, no. 3, May 2018, pp. 171–192. EBSCOhost, doi: 10.1177/0094582X18766911.

Schiwy, Freya. Indianizing Film: Decolonization, the Andes, and the Question of Technology. E-book, Rutgers University Press, 2009.

Smith, Laurel C. "Decolonizing Hybridity: Indigenous Video, Knowledge, and Diffraction." Cultural Geographies, vol. 19, no. 3, July 2012, pp. 329–348. Sage Journals, doi: 10.1177/1474474011429407.

Tarco Carrera, Henry. "Descolonizando el texto visual: Bases para interpretar cuatro estéticas cinematográficas indigenistas ecuatorianas del siglo XXI." Diálogo, vol. 23 no. 1, 2020, p. 47-54. Project Muse, doi: 10.1353/dlg.2020.0005.

Vilanova, Núria. "Descolonización y cine: la propuesta indígena de Jorge Sanjinés hoy." Bolivian Studies Journal/Revista de Estudios Bolivianos, vol. 19, 2012, pp. 88-104. University of Pittsburgh Press, doi: 10.5195/bsj.2012.66.

Indigenous Female Representation & Voices

Córdova, Amalia. "Review of Jayro Bustamante’s Ixcanul." NACLA Report on the Americas, vol. 49, no. 1, March 2017, pp. 114–115. Taylor & Francis, doi: 10.1080/10714839.2017.1298259.

De la Mora, Sergio. "Roma: Reparation versus Exploitation." Film Quarterly, vol. 72, no. 4, Summer 2019, pp. 46-53. University of California Press, doi: 10.1525/fq.2019.72.4.46.

Duarte, Ana Rosa. "Arroz con leche: Audiovisual Poetry and the Politics of Everyday Life." Adjusting the Lens: Community and Collaborative Video in Mexico, edited by Freya Schiwy and Byrt Wammack Weber, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017, pp. 71-89. 

Gauthier, Jennifer L. "Embodying change: Cinematic representations of Indigenous women’s bodies, a cross-cultural comparison." International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, vol. 11, no. 3, 2015, pp. 283-298. Intellect Limited, doi: 10.1386/macp.11.3.283_1.

González Hurtado, Argelia. "Narrando la diáspora indígena a través de la cámara de Yolanda Cruz." Visitas al Patio, vol. 14, no. 2, 2020, pp. 86-99. Universidad de Cartagena, revistas.unicartagena.edu.co/index.php/visitasalpatio/article/view/2781.

---. "Resistance and Revival: Indigenous Women Media-Makers in Contemporary Mexico." Latin American Perspectives, vol. 48, no. 2, Mar 2021, pp. 63–76, doi: 10.1177/0094582X20988695.

Rocha, Carolina. “Agencia femenina indígena en Ixcanul (2015) de Jayro Bustamante.” Bulletin of Spanish Studies, vol. 97, no. 10, 2020, pp. 1673-1691, doi: 10.1080/14753820.2020.1854498

Smith, Laurel C. "Visualizing Indigenous Women in Oaxaca: Mexico at the End of the Twentieth Century." Historical Geography, vol. 40, 2012, pp. 61-83. UNM eJournals, ejournals.unm.edu/index.php/historicalgeography/article/view/1353/1329.

Smith, Paul Julian. "Screenings: Women and Empire in Malinche." Film Quarterly, vol. 72, no. 4, Summer 2019, pp. 74-78. University of California Press, doi:  10.1525/fq.2019.72.4.74.

Interviews with Filmmakers 

Berrocal, Gerardo. Entrevista con Charlotte Gleghorn y Claudia Arteaga. Mediático, 4 March 2019, School of Media, Arts and Humanities at the University of Sussex, reframe.sussex.ac.uk/mediatico/2019/03/04/entrevista-con-el-director-mapuche-gerardo-berrocal.

Himpele, Jeff. "Packaging Indigenous Media: An Interview with Ivan Sanjinés and Jesus Tapia." American Anthropologist, vol. 106, no. 2, 2004, pp. 354-363. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3566971.

Martel, Lucrecia. "'I Was Never Afraid,' An Interview with Lucrecia Martel." Interview by Gerd Gemünden and Silvia Spitta. Film Quarterly, vol. 71, no. 4, 2018, pp. 33-40. University of California Press, doi: 10.1525/fq.2018.71.4.33.

Nuhem, Bashé. Entrevista con Charlotte Gleghorn y Claudia Arteaga. Mediático, 13 May 2019, School of Media, Arts and Humanities at the University of Sussex,  reframe.sussex.ac.uk/mediatico/2019/05/13/serie-tematica-de-cine-de-abya-yala-entrevista-con-bashe-nuhem.

Paillán, Jeannette. "'A story might be similar from different places, but the language of representation is not:' An Interview with Jeannette Paillán." A Companion to Latin American Cinema, edited by Maria M. Delgado, Stephen Hart, and Randal Johnson, Wiley-Blackwell, 2017, pp. 473-486.

Sojob, María. Entrevista con Charlotte Gleghorn y Claudia Arteaga. Mediático, 25 Feb. 2019, School of Media, Arts and Humanities at the University of Sussex, reframe.sussex.ac.uk/mediatico/2019/02/25/entrevista-maria-sojob.

Additional Resources

Cine Las Americas International Film Festival: Cine Las Americas is a multi-cultural, non-profit organization based in Austin Texas, offering theatrical screenings of films made by and/or about Latinos or Indigenous peoples of the Americas. The 2020 festival showcased 114 titles, representing 25 countries: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Jordan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uruguay, and Venezuela. 

Cine Indígena de Abya Yala: una serie de artículos y entrevistas publicada en Mediático a lo largo de 2019, Año Internacional de las Lenguas Indígenas. Esta serie temática se enfoca en el cine indígena de Abya Yala y su relación con el lenguaje, tanto estético como verbal. 

Cinema Tropical: New York-based Cinema Tropical is a non-profit media arts organization that has become the leading presenter of Latin American cinema in the United States. Cinema Tropical offers a diverse selection of films, including a variety of titles focused on indigenous peoples, through its educational film catalog, streaming options, and video on-demand. 

Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Cine y Comunicación de los Pueblos Indígenas (CLACPI): As the oldest and largest Latin American organization for Indigenous Film and Media, CLACPI promotes community-based media, particularly video production, as a way to preserve and enhance indigenous cultures from their own perspective. Since 1985, CLACPI has carried out a variety of collaborations, exchanges and mutual support with indigenous communities. Every two years, CLACPI organizes the Indigenous Film + Video Festival (Festival Internacional de Cine y Video de los Pueblos Indígenas).  

Native American Film & Video Film Festival: The Native American Film + Video Festival, organized by the National Museum of the American Indian Film and Video Center, celebrates the creative energy of Native American directors, producers, writers, actors, musicians, cultural activists, and others who support their endeavors. The 2011 festival brought together participants from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Suriname, and the U.S. 

Native American Films: Comprehensive, non-peer reviewed website with short reviews, news and information on movies featuring Native Americans (Indians, indios, indígenas, povos originarios) of Latin America. Includes film lists organized by the following national and regional categories: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, El Caribe, Central America, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, México, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay, and Venezuela. 

Vídeo nas Aldeias: Founded in 1986 in Brazil, this pioneer project in the field of indigenous audiovisual production creates conditions so that indigenous filmmakers can make their films in an autonomous way. Vídeo nas Aldeias' goal is to support indigenous peoples’ struggles in order to strengthen their identities and territorial and cultural heritages, through audiovisual resources and a shared production model.