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Mexican low budget films in their transnational context


Rohrer, Seraina. Mexican low budget films in their transnational context. 2012, University of Zurich, Faculty of Arts.

Abstract

This dissertation examines a previously ignored group of films: the Mexican low budget productions (wrestling and border films, comedies, and dirty movies) made since the 1970s. The aforementioned genres have widely circulated on video, film, television, and online across the transnational space between the United States of America, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. To this date, they continue to be popular with working-class Mexican audiences and migrants in the United States. Despite their popularity, they have tended to be ignored or dismissed by film scholars as reactionary and sexist. This dissertation places these low budget films within the realm of popular culture and exploitation cinema. It sketches out their iconography and aesthetics which result from a particular mode of production (extremely low costs and shooting times, working with family members instead of union workers etc). The stereotypical character types repeated in endless films - reduced to body type, ethnicity and gender - are created by filmmakers and producers who often deride their audience. By considering the political and historical context along with conditions of production, distribution, exhibition, and spectatorship, varying modes of reception emerge. Taking into account the theoretical concepts of diasporic cinema, paracinema and home movies, as well as different approaches to production culture and reception (e.g. Staiger, Odin). The analyzed low-budget productions may thus be seen as a form of cinematographic re-negotiation: The films take up pre-existing roles and structures, exhibits them performatively, and - as I argue - brings about resulting shifts in their meaning. Power structures are called into question: through a variety of self-techniques (cf. Foucault, Bourdieu, Butler); on the level of the filmic text (the mise-en-scène of bodies and genders); or in processes of appropriation within the community.

Abstract

This dissertation examines a previously ignored group of films: the Mexican low budget productions (wrestling and border films, comedies, and dirty movies) made since the 1970s. The aforementioned genres have widely circulated on video, film, television, and online across the transnational space between the United States of America, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. To this date, they continue to be popular with working-class Mexican audiences and migrants in the United States. Despite their popularity, they have tended to be ignored or dismissed by film scholars as reactionary and sexist. This dissertation places these low budget films within the realm of popular culture and exploitation cinema. It sketches out their iconography and aesthetics which result from a particular mode of production (extremely low costs and shooting times, working with family members instead of union workers etc). The stereotypical character types repeated in endless films - reduced to body type, ethnicity and gender - are created by filmmakers and producers who often deride their audience. By considering the political and historical context along with conditions of production, distribution, exhibition, and spectatorship, varying modes of reception emerge. Taking into account the theoretical concepts of diasporic cinema, paracinema and home movies, as well as different approaches to production culture and reception (e.g. Staiger, Odin). The analyzed low-budget productions may thus be seen as a form of cinematographic re-negotiation: The films take up pre-existing roles and structures, exhibits them performatively, and - as I argue - brings about resulting shifts in their meaning. Power structures are called into question: through a variety of self-techniques (cf. Foucault, Bourdieu, Butler); on the level of the filmic text (the mise-en-scène of bodies and genders); or in processes of appropriation within the community.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation
Referees:Tröhler Margrit, Andermann J
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Cinema Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
900 History
Language:English
Date:25 September 2012
Deposited On:08 Feb 2017 09:20
Last Modified:08 Feb 2017 09:20

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