Digital Cinema for Self-Representation and Decolonization

Jorge Prudencio Lozano Botache (Universidad del Quindío)

Drawing on decolonial theory, this presentation is set against the colonizing dimensions of the film industry, mainly Hollywood, and highlights the possibilities of decolonizing practices based on the construction of audiovisual self-representations facilitated by digital technologies. The "third cinema," a proposal presented at the end of the 1960s by Octavio Getino and Fernando Solanas, provides a key (con)text in my presentation because it suggests the existence of decolonial positions although they (may) have not yet been named that way. Through a thematic follow-up and the modalities of national and transnational production, my paper will highlight different modes of representation and to community cinema that have been established in Latin America, especially in Indigenous audiovisual production in Colombia.

Virtual Reality, Cyborg Migrants, and Cross-Border Dehumanization on the US-Mexico Boundary

Anna Marta Marini (Instituto Franklin, Universidad de Alcalá)

Reproducing digital heterotopias connected to the US–Mexico border, the films Sleep Dealer (dir. Rivera, 2008) and Culture Shock (dir. Saul Guerrero, 2019) both reflect what Giorgio Agamben might call an existing state of exception whose pivot is represented by the boundary and Latinx migration to the United States. The border is represented as a topos where the migrant subject is emptied of humanity and political subjectivity, enthralled by the panopticon embodied by the American immigration and border enforcement system—which exerts a Foucauldian power over life and right of death.

Rivera's and Saul Guerrero's virtual heterotopic realities perpetuate the asymmetrical relationship between the United States and the Latinx migrant subject. In Sleep Dealer, the migrant body is confined south of the border, where it is exploited by being attached to virtual reality machines in order to produce capital carrying out manual labor at distance through robots. A futuristic form of maquiladora is reproduced, and the migrant peons conduct their existence mostly in a digital world that drains their energies in real life. In Rivera's reality, personal memories are commodified for the American public's consumption, eager to entertain itself with stories that are "other" and possibly exoticized. In Culture Shock, the migrant body is physically allowed to enter the US territory, but it is brainwashed and reduced to a shell attached to virtual reality machines in order to be culturally assimilated. In this case, personal memories are erased and substituted with constructs intrinsic to the American dominant culture and nationalist ideologies. Within the boundaries of Saul Guerrero's reality—mindful of the systematic structural and cultural violence the Latinx minority has historically experienced—the migrant subjects represent a threat to the integrity of an ideal American society that would result tainted by their entrance.

Despite the apparently futuristic characterization, the migrant heterotopias built in these two films share similarities with ongoing programs developed by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as well as technologies implemented on the militarized border that systematically violate human rights. In both films, the blur between the organic and the cybernetic shapes a dehumanized realm in the service of a state power; at the same time though, the cyborg subject embodies the possibility of resistance to that same power. Relying on their humanity, and yet through the projected digital version of themselves, the protagonists can counter the dominant order—albeit to an individual extent. Furthermore, as others have underlined (Spurgeon 2009; Barrera 2014), a connection can be traced between the transgressive subjectivity of cyborgs and that of borderland Latinx constructions such as Anzaldúa’s mestiza. This paper will examine and highlight the construction of these fictional digital spaces, which apparently transcend the border while, in fact, they reinforce the existing ideological boundaries connected to it.

Digystopias in Brazilian Cinema: Authoritarianism Beyond Zeroes and Ones

Alfredo Suppia (University of Campinas)

My paper will focus on Brazilian science fiction films that elaborate on the crossroads between dystopian settings, inspired by the current political agenda in Brazil, and the digital melting pot, which includes social networks and hacker culture. Therefore, films such as Adirley Queirós's Branco Sai, Preto Fica (2014), Mozart Freire's Janaína Overdrive (2016), and Thiago Foresti's Algorithm (2020) will provide case studies for this analysis of how contemporary science fiction cinema has been instrumental to the critique of the extreme right, the long-lasting history of social inequality, and the legacy of slavery in Brazil.

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