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The Story of the Mexican Screenplay

A Study of the Invisible Art Form and Interviews with Women Screenwriters

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Maria Teresa DePaoli

The Story of the Mexican Screenplay: A Study of the Invisible Art Form and Interviews with Women Screenwriters contributes to the international development of screenplay studies. While the debate on the ontology of the screenplay continues, a fact remains clear for screenwriters: the screenplay is the film’s skeleton and the main base that sustains a story told through images. Certainly, lack of visibility, including publication, distribution, and promotion, are some of the problems that the screenplay confronts, but these are not the only challenges. Traditionally, the form has been unappreciated and regarded by many as only an initial step in the complexity of film production. In this study, the author elaborates on the cultural baggage that the screenplay carries since it is text imbued with multiple signs that – for various reasons – often get lost in the process and never make it to the screen. In this context, the author touches on the concept of adaptation since it is often a key element in screenplay research.
The Story of the Mexican Screenplay focuses on a general historical investigation of the Mexican screenplay, specifically on women’s screenwriting. In addition to screenplay analysis, the interviews with women screenwriters are revealing of various cultural issues such as gender discrimination in the work place, political censorship, collective screenwriting, and collaboration among writers, and with the director. These topics explain, in part, the double marginalization of female screenwriting in Mexico.
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Chapter One. Introduction: Unveiling the Hidden Art Form

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• CHAPTER ONE •

Introduction

Unveiling the Hidden Art Form

The screenplay as art form was not taken seriously enough to elicit academic scrutiny until recently. It has been invisible, due in part, to its continuous motion and lack of an academic tradition. Screenwriting is a constant work in progress; the text is continuously changing until the film proper is completed. When comparing the screenplay to drama, Claudia Sternberg1 was the first scholar to indicate the ever-changing aspect of the form,2 “The screenplay remains in a potentially continuous state of fluctuation until its final fixation on celluloid”—whereas—“the fixed dramatic text experiences a number of interpretations with different stage productions”(2). I wondered if the lack of academic interest in screenplay has been perhaps due—in addition to being seen as only a phase of a complex industrial process that ends with the finished film3—to the permanently elusive nature of the form as Steven Maras has argued.4

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