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Third Cinema Theories and the Nollywood Experience

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Essay title: Third Cinema Theories and the Nollywood Experience


The term, �Third Cinema’ was coined in an interview with the Argentine Cine Liberacion group, published in the journal Cine Cubano (March 1969), and was then more fully developed in the manifesto “Towards a Third Cinema: Notes and Experiences for the Development of a cinema in the Third World,” written by Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, members of that group. Femi Shaka describes it as “a tool for creating a revolutionary consciousness for the mass mobilization for society for social change,” (2003, p.90). It is therefore a filmmaking process that would aid nationalist movements in creating a new socio-cultural solidarity in the struggle against western imperialism and for national self – determination.

The Third Cinema Movement witnessed a number of works in its launch both in theory and practice. Some of these works include Fernando Biri’s Tire Die (Throw me a Dime, 1958); Nelson Pereira dos Santos’s Vidas Secas (Barren lives, 1963); Glauber Rocha’s Antonio das Mortes (The Dragon of Evil against The Warrior Saint, 1968); and Solanas/Getino’s revolutionary film La Hora de los Hornos (The Hour of the Furnaces, 1968). Theoretical works included Fernando Biri’s “Cinema and Underdevelopment,” Glauber Rocha’s “The aesthetics of Hunger,” and “ The aesthetics of Violence,” Slanas and Getino’s essay, “ Towards a Third Cinema,” Espinosa’s “For an Imperfect Cinema,” Jorgr Sanjines’s “ Problems of Form and Content in Revolutionary Cinema,” etc (Shaka, p.90).

In their article Towards a Third Cinema, Solanas and Getino describe the movement thus:

The anti-imperialist struggle of the peoples of the Third World and of their equivalents inside the imperialist countries constitutes today the axis of the world revolution. Third cinema is, in our opinion, the cinema that recognises in that struggle the most gigantic cultural, scientific, and artistic manifestation of our time, the great possibility of constructing a liberated personality with each people as the starting point - in a word, the decolonisation of culture (Solanas/Getino, electronic version).

Based on the above stated, we shall study the Nigerian Video Film industry with a view to stating if we have been able produce a revolutionary film or not.

Understanding Third Cinema

One of the keys to understanding a Third World Cinema is appreciating and interrogating why an individual film is made. Solanas and Getino maintained that theirs was not a cinema meant to make the viewer feel at ease, but instead it should make them want to question and change the world, hence their production of La Hora de Los Hornos (The Hour of the Furnaces). The inception of third cinema brought together participants in a variety of anti colonial revolutions during a period in which the world was understood to be fundamentally polarized along the lines of nation and class. Third cinema often uses a realistic style associated with verite or sometimes with Italian neorealism. At times it uses non professional actors or even workers and ordinary people doing their everyday tasks.

Third cinema set out to destroy various aspects of what has been called the colonial mentality and to replace it with various forms of cultural affirmation. Summing up the situation of third world and its peoples in 1969, Solanas and Getino wrote, “just as they are not masters of the land upon which they walk, the neo-colonized are not masters of the ideas in their own heads” (electronic version). They also maintain that “if film, the most veritable tool of communication in our times is used to satisfy only the interests of the bourgeoisie, the oppressed masses would lose an invaluable revolutionary tool for social change” (ibid).

It was understood that representational forms, from news formats to standard feature film narratives of individual heroism, were part of the functioning of institutions, as well as the functioning of cultural and economic power. Therefore it was also understood that control of the spectator is central to the maintenance of power. Opposed to such hegemonic functionality, third cinema makers work with “a camera in one hand and a stone in the other” (emphasis mine).

They tried to show that because all representation is shot through with power relations, the most pernicious representations are generally those in which the process – that is, the mode of representing – is naturalized and/or made invisible. If representations appear larger than life, as something like a second nature, human beings are simultaneously persuaded of their powerlessness. Third cinema endeavours, in one way or the other,

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