Third Cinema, a term coined by Argentine filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino in their 1969 manifesto "Towards a Third Cinema," is a film movement that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The movement sought to challenge and resist the hegemony of Hollywood and European cinema, which were considered the "First" and "Second" Cinemas, respectively. Third Cinema emerged as a response to the social, political, and economic struggles of the time, aiming to create a new cinematic language that would reflect the experiences and perspectives of the oppressed and marginalized.
Third Cinema has its roots in the broader socio-political context of the 1960s and 1970s, a time marked by anti-colonial struggles, revolutionary movements, and the emergence of new nation-states in the Global South. Influenced by Marxist and anti-colonial ideologies, the filmmakers associated with Third Cinema sought to create an alternative to the dominant, commercial cinema that they saw as perpetuating imperialism, colonialism, and consumerism. They drew inspiration from various sources, including Italian Neorealism, French New Wave, Soviet Montage theory, and the writings of intellectuals such as Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire.
Third Cinema is characterized by its commitment to social and political change and its focus on the realities and experiences of the oppressed and marginalized. The movement aims to break away from traditional, commercial filmmaking conventions and embraces experimentation and innovation in both form and content. Third Cinema films often have a documentary-style approach, using handheld cameras, non-professional actors, and location shooting to capture the authenticity of the stories being told. These films also frequently employ montage, symbolism, and allegory to convey complex ideas and evoke emotional responses from the audience.
Third Cinema films address a wide range of issues, including colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, racism, and social injustice. They explore the complex relationships between the colonized and the colonizer, the oppressor and the oppressed, and the dominant and the marginalized. Third Cinema films also examine the role of culture, identity, and history in shaping individual and collective experiences, highlighting the importance of reclaiming and preserving cultural heritage in the face of hegemonic forces.
Several filmmakers have been associated with the Third Cinema movement, including Glauber Rocha (Brazil), Djibril Diop Mambéty (Senegal), Ousmane Sembène (Senegal), Fernando Solanas (Argentina), and Octavio Getino (Argentina). Some notable Third Cinema films include "The Hour of the Furnaces" (1968) by Solanas and Getino, "The Battle of Algiers" (1966) by Gillo Pontecorvo, "Memories of Underdevelopment" (1968) by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, and "Black Girl" (1966) by Ousmane Sembène.
While the Third Cinema movement has evolved over time, its core principles and objectives remain relevant in today's globalized world. Contemporary filmmakers from the Global South continue to engage with the issues and themes explored by Third Cinema, creating innovative and thought-provoking works that challenge the dominant narratives perpetuated by mainstream cinema. In addition, the rise of digital technologies and alternative distribution platforms has opened up new possibilities for filmmakers to share their stories and reach wider audiences, further democratizing the medium and expanding the scope of Third Cinema.
Third Cinema represents a revolutionary and transformative movement in filmmaking that has sought to challenge the hegemony of mainstream cinema and give voice to the oppressed and marginalized. By embracing alternative forms, aesthetics, and narratives, Third Cinema has not only provided a platform for underrepresented perspectives but has also enriched the global cinematic landscape with its diverse and unique contributions.
As we move further into the 21st century, the spirit of Third Cinema continues to inspire filmmakers and audiences alike, encouraging critical engagement with the world around us and promoting a more inclusive and equitable cinematic experience. With the ongoing struggles for social justice and equality around the globe, the principles of Third Cinema remain as vital and relevant today as they were at the movement's inception.
It is essential for film scholars, enthusiasts, and creators to continue examining and celebrating the rich history and legacy of Third Cinema, as well as supporting and championing contemporary filmmakers who continue to embody its revolutionary spirit. By doing so, we can ensure that the diverse voices and stories that Third Cinema represents continue to be heard and seen, contributing to a more just and equitable global film culture.
In the future, it will be interesting to see how the movement evolves and adapts to the changing socio-political landscape and the advancements in technology and distribution. The ongoing dialogue between the past, present, and future of Third Cinema will undoubtedly continue to shape and redefine the boundaries of what cinema can be and the role it can play in driving social and political change.
List of 11 influential films that are considered part of the Third Cinema movement:
These films, from various countries and backgrounds, exemplify the core principles of the Third Cinema movement, addressing social, political, and cultural issues while challenging mainstream filmmaking conventions.