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Rita Moreno singing “America” with other members of the “Sharks” on movie set for the musical “West Side Story”. 1961. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZ62-116064. Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios.

Shaping Latina/o Representation at the Movies with Junior Fellows, Scholars, and Filmmakers

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(The following is a guest blog post by Dani Thurber, Reference Librarian and Latino Studies Collection Specialist in the Hispanic Reading Room of the Latin American, Caribbean, and European Division.)

This Hispanic Heritage Month, we are thrilled to share the release of the Latinx Representation in Film Research Guide. This guide is part of the “Cine Latine: Shaping Latino Representation at the Movies” project implemented by Junior Fellows, Mateo Arango, Karla Camacho, and Madeline Griffin along with project mentor Dani Thurber, Reference Librarian and Latino Studies Collection Specialist in the Hispanic Reading Room. The team worked in collaboration with colleagues from the Moving Image Research Center and the National Film Preservation Board part of National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, as well as professors and scholars in the fields of Latino and Film Studies.

For the first phase of the project, the team developed the Latinx Representation in Film Research Guide, consisting of a brief history and overview essay of Latina/o representation in cinema. Additionally, they curated chronological and thematic filmographies and a compilation of resources for aspiring filmmakers, including professional networks, grants and fellowship opportunities, film festivals, and relevant digital publications. The guide pays homage to some of the great Latina/o films of our time in a section dedicated to the National Film Registry, and looks into forthcoming trends and themes in the cinematic arts such as Latinx Futurism. For researchers, the guide highlights scholarly articles, books, magazines, and documentaries that delve into the rich histories of Latina/o representation in the film industry both in front of and behind the camera.

Most significantly, the guide features a comprehensive filmography of Latinas/os in the film canon, nearly 1,500 films dating from the onset of moving images to the present. Junior Fellows Karla, Madeline, and Mateo accomplished this impressive task by searching through the Library’s vast moving image collections, speaking with experts and professionals in the field, conducting extensive research, and even enlisting the help of the public to identify films featuring Latinas/os as well as Latina/o-created films. The result is a multi-page filmography organized alphabetically and chronologically for ease of browsing and access by users. The Junior Fellows also curated a special list of films such as the Thematic Filmography, which highlights various themes and perspectives found within Latina/o cinema.

Screen shot of research guide
Image caption: The Latinx Filmographies page introduces and provides context to four separate filmographies: a Selected Filmography, a Thematic Filmography, a Full Alphabetical Filmography and a Full Chronological Filmography.

 

In addition to the Research Guide, the Junior Fellows also developed the Cine Latine Interview Series with emerging and established Latina/o filmmakers. The team initiated relationships with filmmakers and their representatives, conducted in-depth research into the filmmakers’ careers and projects, and drafted interview questions. These efforts culminated in a series of six virtual interviews with Aitch Alberto, Patricia Cardoso, Alexis C. Garcia, Gregory Nava, Alex Rivera, and Alejandra Vasquez.

 

The Cine Latine team conducted interviews remotely, which allowed them to connect with filmmakers around the country. Above are pictured (clockwise) legendary Latino directory Gregory Nava chatting with Junior Fellows Karla Camacho, Mateo Arango, Madeline Griffin, and project mentor Dani Thurber.


Junior Fellow Mateo Arango shared the following about his experience working on the Cine Latine project: “The Junior Fellows Cine Latine project allowed me to delve deep into the history and evolution of Latinx cinema. This involved researching academic literature on Latinx films, speaking with professors and experts in the industry, and participating in the Cine Latine Interview Series. The interview series was an opportunity to hear directly from Latina/o filmmakers and gain greater insight into the individuals that are actively shaping Latino representation in film today. The extensive filmography and research guide will allow for increased accessibility to underrepresented Latino narratives and perspectives. Understanding these histories is quintessential to a more inclusive American story. It also allows us to better understand our own positionality as Latinos living in the United States.”

We hope you check out and enjoy the Latinx Representation in Film Research Guide!

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