Outtakes - Third Cinema

Perfumed Nightmare

Perfumed Nightmare

What it is…

A film movement that originated in Latin America during the Sixties and the Seventies that defined itself in opposition to what it called First Cinema (the glossy studio pictures of Hollywood for which cinema was a medium of entertainment) and Second Cinema (the European arthouse films that treated film as a medium of artistic expression). The term is also an allusion to the expression Third World, where the movement flourished.

Who its pioneers were…

Although it derived significantly from the styles and theories of Cinema Vérité and Cinema Novo, Third Cinema was rooted in the socio-political turmoil of developing countries, many of which had got their independence just then. Though the movement was theorised and spearheaded by Argentine filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, it has to be noted it was a pan-global film movement, stretching from South America to South-East Asia.

How it is characterised…


Third Cinema was a nationalistic film movement which condemned neo-colonialism and other modern forms of imperialism through its films. It appealed to filmmakers across the world to assume a similar critical stance against homogenising forms of capitalism. For Third Cinema, the idea of individual authorship of films was moot. It was vehemently partisan in nature and thoroughly rejected what it saw as bourgeois liberalism and film aesthetics.


The proponents of Third Cinema considered their films imperfect. These films were rough-hewn, had no visual embellishment; they were often shot in ordinary stock, with handheld cameras and made virtues out of necessity. These films intend to reflect the imperfect social and economic conditions that they were made in. Most vitally, they urged that the audience be an active participant in the filmmaking, and hence political, process.

Why it is important…

With globalisation having become the defining phenomenon of our age, the idea of Third Cinema might come across as little more than a time capsule from an era where a counter-ideology was at least possible. However, it also gives rebel filmmakers and ideologues a model with which they can work on. This resurrection of Third Cinema principles could be seen today in many issue-based documentary films scattered around the world.

Where to find it…

Solanas' and Getino's The Hour of the Furnaces (1968) is a manifesto of sorts for Third Cinema. Consisting of photographs, found footage and news reels stitched together with an exhorting voiceover, this radical film lays down all the stakes and objectives that characterise the movement in full detail.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 11:17:08 am |