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Triangulations of Desire: Border Cinema in Mexico and the United States 1950-2010

Sleep Dealer (Alex Rivera, 2008)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
7:00 p.m.
Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall


A Lecture by Michael R. Solomon
Associate Professor of Romance Languages
University of Pennsylvania


From its earliest manifestations in the late 19th century, cinema has helped to cultivate the fantasy of a happy, harmonious and affluent "over there," a place with utopian resonance that lies just beyond but within the possible reach of the spectator. As Slavoj Zizek has argued, this fantasy is not a "dreamlike illusion that we build to escape insupportable reality," rather it "serves as a support for our ‘reality' itself; an ‘illusion that structures our effective, real social relations ..."

In his presentation Solomon will discuss the concept of "Border Cinema" as an attempt to combat, alter, or eliminate these cinematically constructed fantasies of a bountiful, untroubled, prosperous, and even erotic "over there." In addition to providing a survey of films that incorporate the Mexican/United States border as a major theme, this presentation covers concepts such as "bracero cine," pocho cine," and "narcocine" while providing clips and commentary on cinematic works such as Espaldas mojadas (Alejandro Galindo 1955), Dos Mexicanas en México (Miguel Delgado 1964), Contrabando y traición (Arturo Martínez 1977), Al otro lado (Gustavo Loza 2004), The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones 2005), Sin nombre (Cary Fukunaga 2009), Sleep Dealer (Alex Rivera, 2008), and Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón 2006).  The presentation will be in English and all film clips will be subtitled.

Solomon's research and teaching interests reach from the Middle Ages to Media Studies. He has written and presented on new media and teaches graduate and undergrad courses on Spanish and Mexican cinema. He is the author of The Literature of Misogyny in Medieval Spain (Cambridge, UP), and the forthcoming Fictions of Well-Being: Sickly Readers and Vernacular Medical Writing in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain (University of Pennsylvania Press). Solomon is currently completing a book-length study on short digital filmmaking in Spain and Latin America.


Sponsored by Latin American Studies and Film and Media Studies