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THE CINEMA AS A WEAPON

I’m an Argentine filmmaker and I’ve been making films since 1963. I’ve filmed fifteen: they all deal with the social and political situation in Latin America. I try to show that there is only one means of making structural changes in our continent: the socialist revolution; As Che Guevara wrote, revolutions that are not socialist are nothing but parodies of revolution. The most significant of the “frozen revolutions” in Latin America is the Mexican one: it is at the same point as 60 years ago. For this reason I chose it as a theme and I made this film about Mexico. And not only for Mexicans, but for all of Latin America.
The film has been made with a Mexican team. It is an educational film designed to inform the people … We seek to demonstrate that the promises of the 1910 revolution have not been fulfilled. We also used a part of the footage shot between 1910 and 1917 by Salvador Toscano-Barragán, an excellent cameraman who had folded the forces of Villa and Zapata, capturing extraordinary scenes; It is the first time that your material is used in this way.
It is the bourgeoisie, not the peasantry, that has benefited from the revolution. Even the title of the film was given to us by a peasant from Yucatan, Antonio López. This is not a film designed to be screened in commercial rooms. We want to project it in universities, unions and all the groups that request it; The people are misinformed. Our mission as revolutionaries and political filmmakers is to fight side by side with the people, and deliver what our ideology can bring.
In my country; In Argentina, it is absolutely impossible to make a movies online within the system, because there is a censorship that acts not only on political films, but also on everything that touches human relations; So we prefer to make films out of the system and show them to small groups of people. That they are small does not matter; Last year in Córdoba, when the city and the University were occupied by the students, “Time of the furnaces” was projected before 3000 people; But this is an exceptional fact, generally it is about groups of twenty people; It is worth more, in my opinion, to transmit to twenty people clear ideas, that ideas confused to thousands of people and that is what we would be obliged to do if we worked for the system; And those who watch free movies in small groups convince others; As in Vietnam, the struggle for revolution in Latin America is long. We have all the time.
Our intention to shoot a film in Mexico was secret, that is how we enter legally, as tourists; Our work was clandestine: no one knew what kind of film we were filming; Some believed that we were making a tourist film or that we worked for the TV It was the only way to work free, because of the censorship; We have traveled all over the country clandestinely, aided by students and workers; The revelation and assembly were made in New York, since they were American friends, people of the left, who produced the film and gave us facilities to show it.
The film ends with the massacre of the Plaza de Tlatelolco in October 68? … We would have wanted to use filmed footage, at that time there was in Mexico a group of filmmakers from around the world, due to the Olympic Games; But we could not find any film; Have disappeared from the archives and archives of the whole world; A Belgian cameraman had filmed the soldiers pulling over the village: I sent the films to a laboratory in Belgium and when he wanted to remove them he was told: “we are very sorry, but the original has disappeared”, when he protested he was told: “do not bother , We will pay the insurance; The Mexican government and the CIA have confiscated everything, you can find films of the demonstrations, but the Tlatelolco massacre there is not a single plane “: we used photographs that were taken by the students and by newspapers and underground magazines.

2-Self-criticism (Around “The Traitors”).

– I would like to tell you about a personal experience: there are many companions, whom we could define as progressives, who really fight or try to fight for socialism but who have always carried out works of an individual nature, even thinking about the problem of true awareness, Or their awareness of the role that as intellectuals should play in the struggle that the people fight. Many have been the comrades who have launched to make a number of films that could be framed in general terms, as within the new Latin American cinema, obviously, but also within a cinema that we could call “revolutionary.” From the concrete experience of all these colleagues, and I include myself among them, who have realized an individualistic or group experience, I can conclude that the results have been negative.
Why? I think it is because the fundamental problem, when we dedicate ourselves to make a film, is to consider to whom this product is destined. This seems to me a clear thing, it would be redundant to insist here again on the problem of the recipient of the product: everyone has raised the problem.
But the problem lies in how to get to the base and not only in theoretical terms, which always indicate that a film must be made for the base, a cinema for the class, etc., but the concrete method, the practice that allows it. Of theory we could talk here for several days, the problem is how to reach a specific man, the one who is playing hide, who is fucking his life working in the factory and who has the right to at least give him a message , Let us contribute to their own enlightenment, within our limits of petty-bourgeois intellectuals.
The experience of the comrades who have made a cinema of individual character, disconnected from a political organization has been really minimal and this despite being a cinema that has cost a lot of effort, a lot of sacrifice, which is undoubtedly that of comrades who have played Valiantly for making that film and then they have found that they had this very good film, very political, but that only the aunt, cousin or close relatives saw it, or what is worse still, people related to the small Bourgeoisie, to the class, I mean the case of Argentina, always of psychoanalysts, doctors, etc. To do, for example, a function in a department with thirty people, in the middle of the clandestinity, for a group of psychoanalysts and I am speaking of an experience of mine with a film that is called “Mexico, the Frozen Revolution” that soon revealed Completely useless. Here I am doing a self-criticism of those that were my own characteristics as a film director. In short, we realized that with whom we needed to make contact was with the people, that town that was fighting in the street. And we did not have that contact.
In the year 69? We have seen how the working class, on its own, overflowed us, overflowed the world, the military, the trade union bureaucrats and ourselves that we still had – and perhaps have not lost – a paternalistic attitude towards The class: or the workers are all good or all bad. Either we do not understand the workers, or we speak on their behalf, when no one asks us to do so. That is to say, there is a disconnection with respect to the struggle that the people fight and this is a mistake not only strategic.
It is a very serious error and it is even more so from the point of view of the intellectual who wants to give a contribution to the revolution. Therefore I believe that the incorporation of a determined political organization, an organization that has a concrete political project for the seizure of power is the fundamental mission of every filmmaker, any revolutionary who is nothing more than in words. But we’re falling for the shit, we’re eating shit every day. Cuban comrade Manuel Perez said yesterday in the debate something very interesting and that I consider ideologically certain: that we have to abandon the idea of ​​being a lifelong “left man” to enter to work within the level of the struggle for power. That is to say, within our mentality of progressive men, sometimes certain comrades have settled for “being left.”
Every day more left, more radicalized, more “anti PC” for example, every day more against reformism and for a number of things, but at the same time we are totally disconnected from the struggle waged by the people and suddenly we appear when The workers take a factory with a projector to pass a film and we go home then thinking that this is already a political work.
I do not know if it is interesting what I say, I do not even know if it becomes clear, but I think the previous one should be our top concern: we have spent months in the first stage of the creation of our group, Trying to solve technical problems, problems that are important, but at one point they completely absorbed us: deciding where we were going to reveal, where we were going to combine, who was going to do this and that and then came terrible discussions about whether to work on video tape Or in cinema, what conditions there were, etc. Once the technical problem was solved, we realized that our work as a Base Film was not such until we were able to incorporate into the concrete task of a group that was fighting for the seizure of power at a political level, because We are not political filmmakers, we are dilettantes of an intellectual process alien to the national process that the people live.
I make this observation because from this experience, which we have discussed a lot within our group, is that we have decided to break with a number of schemes that we brought and that brings everything petty-bourgeois of all his life, of what has gone Drinking since he was born; That is to say a whole methodology of bourgeois thought that we have above, and that although as a group we find access to the ideology of the proletariat, it makes us individually remain small-bourgeois.
I believe that the struggle we take on the external ideological plane must also be given at the internal ideological level, that is, to destroy within ourselves the individualistic experience and to understand how far we are from the concrete process of production.
If we evaluate proletarianization, for example, “What is the sense of proletarianization for us?” We must begin by rethinking the simple things (because we also want to talk like this, very simple: we are not theoretical). We have seen that the factory worker, who is linked to the production process and spends eight hours a day in a specific job (say in a car factory, setting doors) is fully aware that he works with a group, Which individually can not perform the product, could not finalize the car. Let us not go on discussing now if the work is alienating, what happens is that this door is useless if another does not put a wheel, etc., that is to say that the proletariat arises from the product of its work, its methodology and its Practice: he knows what is the work of proletarianization, what is the work of group, team and lives it every day. That is, if it is still true that a large part of the working class has no class consciousness (in the sense that its class is the owner of the world and that it must finally overcome) if it has developed the sense of collective work, In group to achieve a concrete product in the field of production.
We filmmakers can do the script of a film, the photo, the assembly and even the projection, even for ourselves: we develop a self-sufficient feature for the job. We do not need anyone, just a cameraman. We can do everything alone. This is the way in which authoritarianism and individualism are most harmful, and if we enter into working within the class, taking with us the ideology of the proletariat (that the workers for different causes do not have the possibility to study, or society But also contributing to our petty-bourgeois methodology, we are doing a very dangerous half-way job, because our own configuration as individualists may lead to a departure from the proletarian work and methodology, which are fundamentally a team.
These seem like diffuse ideas, are part of problems that we personally touch and that we currently discuss and develop in our group: how to break individualism, as a military in a political organization (even if it is not the perfect organization: in Argentina there is no party of The workers and we lack the necessary instrument to reach the seizure of power). In the meantime, each one militates in the organization that he believes most related to his ideas.
I think that we must pose in this discussion, not wanting to be aggressive, to stop being fucked, to leave aside the diletantismo of always and to enter to work in a political organization. We are in a process of struggle throughout the Third World that does not allow another possibility.

3- Methods of work (“The Traitors”).

What do we do as a Film group of the Base? What is our activity, apart from making this film “Los Traidores” and distributing it? We are divided into three divisions: the first two produce and the third is dedicated to the graphic material, so that when Division No. 1 produces, No. 2 distributes, and vice versa.
We have dedicated, since before the end of the film, to the construction of cinemas, and this because we think that “The Traitors” is completed in the viewer, because however clear or revolutionary a film is our work does not It serves if it does not see the set of people, playing to us to arrive at them in the same way as we have played to produce it in clandestine form. This is almost a truism that everyone knows but that it is necessary to make meat and to debate in depth.
We have built a cinema: the class current controls a working class neighborhood of 80,000 people. In this neighborhood there are no cinemas, the nearest room is twenty kilometers and 90% of people do not know the cinema, either because it is expensive, far away or beyond its reach. This also existed in Cuba, where a lot of people did not even know that the flag already existed (nor does the film, obviously) and also occurs in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, etc. The cinema is in itself, if we see it with attention, an instrument of the bourgeoisie. It was created by her to serve her: the cinema by its own gear, by its own methodology of work and structure (it needs a room, darkness, a projector) does not allow that it goes to a factory, for example, to project a film For workers. That is why, since a technique is involved in its operation, it has been an information tool used by the bourgeoisie. Cinema has not yet been used as a proletarian tool, zum Beamer Test auf www.heimkinoleinwandtest.de. So our group has dedicated itself, and continues to dedicate itself through part of the division Nº 1 that produced “Los Traidores”, to the construction of cinemas. We have already built a cinema in that place, with wooden plates, that is to say with the same products with which the workers build their houses. This cinema has a capacity of 200 people and is called “Cine de la Base Nº 1”.
We plan to build 50 cinemas like this and I think it is fundamental to create a distribution channel, because suddenly we found that we had made a number of movies and had them tinned without anyone seeing them. Then we said: “stop making movies”. And it has no purpose to continue doing so without a channel of distribution and to frame it within a specific political organization.
Now, it is necessary to be very clear that the result is sought to win people for the fight, not to tell them that capitalism sucks (that everybody knows).
The problem is that because, capitalism sucks, I militate in organization x, I play life for her. And if we achieve this we are doing a concrete political work. If we do not succeed, we will have to keep looking.
Division 3 of our group is currently doing a job that I think is very interesting and that I was discussing today with teammate Edmundo Aray. At the moment the project that we had in the sense of creating a photo-novel that is called “The Traitors” is almost finished, in which in 50 photos are synthesized the different parts of the film, with ad-hoc texts and everything. This material, which is now printed and ready to go (since we have been given a rotaprint), we intend to sell it – through the militants of the class stream – at the doors of the factories and at 50 pesos, which is an insignificant price. Why do we do this? (I see the horror faces of some of our comrades when we see that we use the instruments of cultural colonization once again. Because we use a degeneration of human thought, which is the photo-novel, we think that what until today has been a It is enough to take a tour of the popular neighborhoods to observe the effectiveness of such an instrument. How many women do we see in their houses reading photo-novels and how many workers read them on the way to “Well, let’s read” Los Traidores, “which, as cheap and a good story, is transformed into a way to get the ideology in play into everyday life. it is the only case. it is the video-tape, very important because almost all houses have TV and can thus pass militant cinema or tapes media organization very concrete struggle is far less detectable a person with a tape than Carries a film or a projector, can even be erased in an instant, if it threatens to reach the police.
To conclude, I insist that we must take it into our head that alone – whether individually or as a group – and disconnected from the concrete task of seizing power, we are even an element easily digestible by the bourgeoisie, which lurks with its capitalist methodology to recover . And it still remains for us.
If we are disconnected from the struggle of the people, there is always a place for us. It is a matter of choosing: to be fucked with the people or to do a completely ineffective work.
One last thing to add: when we hold the position that the cinema is a weapon, many comrades tell us that the camera is not a gun, that this is a confusion, etc. Now, it is clear to us that cinema is a counter-information weapon, not a military-type weapon. An information tool for the Base. This is the other value of the cinema at this point in the fight. It is difficult for us to enter into a type of Europeanizing discussion about structures or language. For us, language and language are strictly linked to our conjunctural situation of taking power. Once we take power we can afford to have discussions about style or construction issues. Not now. For example, At the moment the Chilean people resist fascism: the only useful function we can fulfill in this respect is counter-information, since imperialism has separated Chile from the rest of the world. This is how we understand that cinema is a weapon.