The Complexity of Mainstream/Cult Favorites

Global Cinema’s Insights into Cultural, Historical, and Philosophical Dilemmas

Winter 2020

Vol. 20 no. 1

Articles in this issue reveal ways that filmmakers around the world shed light on intractable cultural, philosophical, and historical dilemmas. Elizabeth S. Gunn traces the career of Afro-Cuban documentarian Gloria Rolando. Connecting Rolando’s work to the contributions of Sara Gomez and other women in Cuban cinema, Gunn shows how Rolando’s films about people and events belonging to the African diaspora in the Caribbean supplement dominant depictions of Cuban national identity. The second piece by R. J. Cardullo uses the shared death date, July 30, 2007, of Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman to revisit films they created. Analyzing Antonioni’s La notte (1961) and Bergman’s Winter Light (1962), the essay explores their career-long inquiries into the question of God’s existence. The third article, “Diasporic Inscriptions of Loss and Grief in Atom Egoyan’s Calendar” by Karen Jallatyan examines Egoyan’s 1993 film to show how it illustrates the complexity of representing trauma, including trauma generated by the 1915 Armenian genocide, contemporary diasporas, and globalization.

                       --Cynthia Baron, Editor

Beyond the Mono-Cultural Ideal:

Gloria Rolando and the Filming of Afro-Cuban History

by Elizabeth S. Gunn

Gloria Rolando (born Havana, Cuba, 1953), is an internationally recognized Afro-Cuban documentarian who wrote and directed the critically acclaimed 1912, Voces para un Silencio (1912: Breaking the Silence), released in 2013. This groundbreaking film chronicles the achievements and state silencing of the Independent Party of Color in Cuba. Rolando is one of very few female, Afro-Cuban filmmakers to emerge from Cuba’s landmark Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC), an entity established by the government following the 1959 communist revolution. Rolando judiciously appropriates a conventionally male-dominated means of mass communication, within the context of the state run ICAIC, to legitimize a silenced history while simultaneously inscribing herself as a leading filmmaker in Cuba and beyond.

Antonioni and Bergman, or Night and Light

by R. J. Cardullo

The deaths of Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman on the same day in 2007 prompt something that was rare during their lives: comparison with each other. (They did occasionally comment on each other’s work in interviews.) What fundamentally links Antonioni and Bergman, despite their differences, is a common theme: the question of God. Do we live in a godless universe? If this is so—as it appeared to be for Antonioni, while Bergman kept questioning—how do we go about living? How do we make our choices? For Bergman, the son of a clergyman who, in a sense, vexed him all his life, the question of a divinity pressed constantly. For Antonioni, the question was answered early on, thoroughly, finally. Most of the latter’s films are about the result of this spiritual vacancy: the murkiness of compass points. Through their respective works La notte (1961) and Winter Light (1962), this essay is a reconsideration of the careers of Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman in light of the question of God’s existence.

Diasporic Inscriptions of Loss and Grief in Atom Egoyan’s Calendar

by Karen Jallatyan

Atom Egoyan’s Calendar (1993) demonstrates tacit awareness of the inadequacy of representing trauma and mourning with a linear narrative by inscribing them through a cyclical narrative form. This inscription is situated in the embodied affective space between languages, beyond and irreducible to semantic translation. The film also inscribes an economic unconscious through the resurgence of figures of traumatizing work from Armenia as mourning consumption in Canada. While one comes across such figures in many of Egoyan’s films, Calendar, by staging an encounter between capitalism and its post-Soviet other, stands out as revealing the contradictions inherent to the capitalist dreamworld, in Buck-Morss’ sense, which as a utopia tends to repress individual and collective trauma and mourning made possible by its logic. Ultimately, transcultural (multilingual) and transeconomic inscriptions made legible by Calendar point to the significance of contemporary Armenian culture, in its diasporic and post-Soviet nation-state configurations, in understanding contemporary globalization. Armenity, in this regard, is the particularly sensitive site of emergence that registers the repressed contradictions and unavowed limitations of industrial and post-industrial totalizing civilizational systems.