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Humanity and Nature in 21st Century Chilean Cinema

by YPU Admin on August 20, 2015, Comments. Tags: Chile, cinema, culture, Humanities, humanity, languages, Latin America, media, nature, Research, and spanish

Introduction

My name is Nicola and I’m currently in the second year of an AHRC-funded PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies. My A-levels were in Spanish, French, History and Mathematics and in 2006 I went on to study Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge in Scotland.

 As part of my first degree, I spent a year living and working as a translator in the city of Valparaíso in central Chile. After continuing at Cambridge to complete a Masters degree in Latin American Studies (specialising in Film and Visual Arts), I then moved to Manchester in 2011 where I trained and worked as a secondary school Spanish teacher.

In 2013, I began my PhD in the department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the University of Manchester. My research explores how films influence and reflect the relationship between humanity and nature in the 21st century, with a particular focus on the representation of natural landscapes in contemporary Chilean cinema.

In Depth

Just over half of the world’s population now lives in cities and this figure is expected to increase to around two-thirds by 2050. When so many people live in urban environments, what does this mean for how we encounter and experience nature in the 21st century?

For many of us, the film and television screen is an important point of contact with the natural world. We watch nature documentaries, travel programmes, adventure films and cartoon animals, through which we encounter places, habitats and landscapes that we never experience in real life. The vision of nature that we see on-screen doesn’t simply reflect our relationship to nature; it also shapes it.

My research looks at films produced in Chile, a country with one of the most diverse and fascinating natural landscapes in the world. From north to south, Chile is the longest country in the world, stretching from the world’s driest desert in the north, through fertile agricultural valleys, chains of volcanoes and ancient forests, to the frozen expanses of Antarctica in the South. This huge natural diversity and geographical variety is reflected in its contemporary cinema, which makes it an interesting and important body of films for those of us interested in cinema and the natural environment.

The central argument of my thesis is that analyses of cinematic landscapes can no longer be confined to the landscape’s role as a symbol of national identity or an allegory of some aspect of national history. Instead, natural spaces can be more usefully discussed as “postnational landscapes”, which are marked by personal, local and global forces as much as by national cultures.

By expanding and refining approaches to landscape and nature in contemporary cinema, my research contributes to a growing academic interest in how culture influences our attitudes towards nature and how this impacts on the future of humanity’s relationship with the planet.

Going Further

For updates about my research activities, follow me on Twitter: @nicolarunciman

To watch new films by Chilean directors online, visit: http://www.cinepata.com/

For English language reviews and articles on South American cinema, music and art: http://www.soundsandcolours.com/

To find out what we’re up to in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, visit our blog: http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/splas/


 

Investigating Latin American Culture in Manchester

Introduction

My name is Nicola and I’m in the third year of a PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies. I did A-levels in Spanish, English Literature and History and went on to study Spanish at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, spending my year abroad in the north of Chile. After returning to Chile for another year to teach English, and then doing a Masters in Latin American Cultural Studies at the University of Manchester, I began my PhD which looks at how members of the British public engage with Latin American culture in the city of Manchester.


In Depth

The first thing to point out about studying Spanish (or any language) at university level is that it’s not just about the language! While your language skills are obviously important and will be developed, you will also spend lots of time studying foreign cultures and how other people around the world live and express themselves. This can involve studying literature, film, music, art, history, religion and indigenous cultures. And, in the case of Spanish, you don’t just study Spain, but also Latin America!

After doing my undergraduate degree and Masters, and living in Chile, I found myself particularly interested in how Latin America is perceived in Britain. Latin American culture, such as salsa classes, music, food and films have become popular in this country over the past couple of decades, yet Latin Americans are a relatively small immigrant population in the UK and not many people travel there, although both have started to increase in recent years. My research therefore investigates how Latin American culture is produced in the city of Manchester and how members of the public consume it.

My research focuses in particular on the annual ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival at the Cornerhouse cinema. I analyse how the film festival is produced, the reasons why they choose some films over others, why they choose particular images to publicise the festival. By interviewing members of the audience, I can find out whether these choices influence the way members of the audience envisage Latin America, or if there are other factors to be considered, such as how the media portrays Latin America. My research also investigates what attracts British people to Latin American culture, especially whether it stems from a cosmopolitan concern to understand others around the world, something particular to Latin American culture and/or disenchantment with contemporary British culture and society.


Going Further

See what you think of the ¡Viva! film festival at their website: http://www.cornerhouse.org/viva2014?no-redir

For information on studying Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the University of Manchester: http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/splas

For more information on Latin Americans in the UK, you might like to read this report on the Latin American community in London: http://www.geog.qmul.ac.uk/docs/research/latinamerican/48637.pdf