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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 Five. The Women Pioneers of Mexican Cinema: Interview with Marcela Fernández Violante

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• CHAPTER FIVE •

The Women Pioneers of Mexican Cinema

Interview with Marcela Fernández Violante

A native of Mexico City, Marcela Fernández Violante is among the most influential directors of Mexican cinema. After graduating from the University Center of Cinematographic Studies (CUEC) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1971, Fernández Violante initiates her career in film with her first documentary, Frida Kahlo (1972), based on the life of the famous Mexican painter. As a result of the policy of freedom of expression in cinema supported by Mexican president Luis Echeverría, she directs her first feature film sponsored and produced by UNAM, De todos modos Juan te llamas [The General’s Daughter] (1974). It centers on the “Cristero” War of 1927 and the consolidation of the PRI as a political party. Before another period of censorship under the administration of President José López Portillo begins, Fernández Violante is able to direct one more feature film emphasizing historical and political national issues—Cananea (1977)—that is based on the first Mexican strike in 1906 during the last lustrum of the Porfirio Díaz dictatorship. The film focuses on the brutal consequential repression of the Mexican mine workers at the hands of Arizona rangers hired by Colonel Green, the mine’s owner. Both The General’s Daughter as well as Cananea won multiple festival nominations and awards such as the Ariel, the Guadalajara, and the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

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