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Imperfect Cinema

In the late 1960's, Cuban filmmaker and screenwriter Julio Garcia Espinosa used the term “imperfect cinema” to describe film production outside of the booming Latin American film industries. In his seminal essay For an Imperfect Cinema, Espinosa describes imperfect cinema as “the opposite of a cinema principally dedicated to celebrating results, the opposite of a self-sufficient and contemplative cinema, the opposite of a cinema which ‘beautifully illustrates’ ideas or concepts which we already possess.” Imperfect cinema is by nature, oppositional and unconventional.

Tania Romero and Maria Jose Alvarez, the first woman filmmaker in Nicaragu 

Tania Romero and Maria Jose Alvarez, the first woman filmmaker in Nicaragu 

By most standards, imperfect best describes video production in Nicaragua today. Not because this cinema lacks a pleasing aesthetic nor is technically sound. It is an imperfect cinema because it preoccupies itself more with the visualization of difference and the creation of audiovisual records of the country's post-war history. More importantly, it persists despite a lack of a film industry. Presently, there are no post-production facilities, national film school, tax incentives for filmmakers, or film studios in existence. The film law that was passed in 2011, which would provide some of these resources, has yet to be implemented. The first and only comprehensive history of cinema in Nicaragua was published just last year by historian-journalist and social commentator Karly Gaitan Morales (A la Conquista de Un Sueno: Historia del cine en Nicaragua).

But the condition of 'lack of resources and access', has given birth to an interesting phenomenon in the last 30 years: an increasing number of women media producers. These filmmakers include the first vanguard of women filmmakers in the country, Maria Jose Alvarez and Martha Clarissa Hernandez (Luna Films), Rossana Lacayo (Gota Films), and Florence Jaugey (in partnership with the prolific Nicaraguan cinematographer Frank Pineda). But also an increasing new wave of filmmakers such as Rebeca Arcia, Heydi Salazar, Gloria Carrion, and Natalia Hernandez.

In June, I had the honor of interviewing these accomplished filmmakers as part of my dissertation research. I am now in post-production for a documentary film about their important work, as they are creating a liberated aesthetic that reveals the realities of underrepresented voices and differentiated experiences.