Image from Xala (Ousmane Sembène, 1975). Read Teshome H. Gabriel's classic essay on this film: 'Xala: A cinema of wax and gold', from Jump Cut, no. 27, July 1982, pp. 31-3
In 1974, Teshome Gabriel, who was at the time a [UCLA] Ph.D. student but who would later be widely credited with introducing Third Cinema theory to Euro-American film scholars with the publication of his 1982 dissertation, Third Cinema in the Third World: The Aesthetic of Liberation, organized a weekly Third World Film Club. Through 1976, the club screened the work of radical filmmakers mostly from Latin American and Africa including Miguel Littín (Chile), Jorge Sanjinés (Bolivia), Solanas and Getino (Argentina), and Ousmane Sembene (Senegal). The Los Angeles School was especially influenced by the classics of Cuban and Brazilian cinema including Memories of Underdevelopment (Tomas Gutierrez Alea, 1968), Lucía (Humberto Solás, 1968), The Last Supper (Gutierrez Alea, 1976), and the work of Nelson Pereira dos Santos (Brazil) and Glauber Rocha (Brazil), who, invited by Gabriel, visited UCLA in 1978.
[Footnote 15: Teshome Gabriel’s importance should not be underestimated. In a recent assessment of Third Cinema, Anthony Guneratne refers to the appearance of Gabriel’s book as a “watershed,” “the first work in English to undertake a comprehensive exposition of Third Cinema theory in relation to the social and political situations it addressed.” See Guneratne and Dissanayake, Rethinking Third Cinema].
Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky, The Ethnic Turn: Studies in Political Cinema from Brazil and the United States, 1960-2002, 2009, p. 150 (hyperlinks added by FSFF)
Official history tends to arrest the future by means of the past. Historians privilege the written word of the text - it serves as their rule of law. It claims a "center" which continuously marginalizes others. In this way its ideology inhibits people from constructing their own history or histories.
Popular memory, on the other hand, considers the past as a political issue. It orders the past not only as a reference point but also as a theme of struggle. For popular memory, there are no longer any "centers" or "margins," since the very designations imply that something has been conveniently left out.
Popular memory, then, is neither a retreat to some great tradition nor a flight to some imagined "ivory tower," neither a self-indulgent escapism, nor a desire for the actual "experience" or "content" of the past for its own sake. Rather, it is a "look back to the future," necessarily dissident and partisan, wedded to constant change.
Teshome H. Gabriel, “Third Cinema as Guardian of Popular Memory: Towards a Third Aesthetics.” Questions of Third Cinema. Ed. Jim Pines and Paul Willemen. London: British Film Institute, 1989. 53-64
A study of style alone will not engender meaning ... Style is only meaningful in the context of its use - in how it acts on culture and helps to illuminate the ideology within.
Teshome Gabriel, Third Cinema in the Third World: An Aesthetic of Liberation (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982) p. 41
[T]he principle characteristic of Third Cinema is really not so much where it is made, or even who makes it, but, rather, the ideology it espouses and the consciousness it displays. In one word we might not be far from the truth when we claim the Third Cinema (as) the cinema of the Third World which stands opposed to imperialism and class oppression in all their ramifications and manifestations.
Teshome Gabriel, Third Cinema in the Third World: An Aesthetic of Liberation (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982) p. 2
Film Studies For Free was very sad to report in a post yesterday that Teshome Gabriel, one of the activist founders of the critical discourses and practices of Third Cinema and popular memory, and a much loved and respected film professor at one of the finest film schools in the world, had passed away. FSFF has devoted a number of entries to online and openly accessible resources on Third Cinema in the past. Today's tribute post focuses on links to online and free to access works either by Professor Gabriel or ones which have been heavily informed by his work.
By Teshome Gabriel:
- Teshome H. Gabriel, 'Xala: A cinema of wax and gold', from Jump Cut, no. 27, July 1982, pp. 31-3
- Teshome H. Gabriel, “Third Cinema as Guardian of Popular Memory: Towards a Third Aesthetics.” Questions of Third Cinema. Ed. Jim Pines and Paul Willemen. London: British Film Institute, 1989. 53-64
Informed by the work of Teshome Gabriel:
- Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky, The Ethnic Turn: Studies in Political Cinema from Brazil and the United States, 1960-2002, 2009
- Homi K. Bhabha, 'The Commitment to Theory', New Formations, No. 5, Summer 1988
- Mbye Cham, 'Official History, Popular Memory: Reconfiguration of the African Past in the Films of Ousmane Sembene', Contributions in Black Studies, Vol. 11 
- Michael Chanan, 'The Changing Geography of Third Cinema', Screen Special Latin American Issue, Volume 38, number 4, Winter 1997)
- Catherine Grant, 'Studies of 'Third Cinema' and anti-Eurocentric film culture', Film Studies For Free, August 10, 2009
- Teresa Hoefert de Turegano, 'On Questions and Critical Methodology of African Cinemas:Ukadike's Questioning African Cinema', Film-Philosophy, Vol. 8 No. 13, April 2004
- Nicola Marzano, 'The Art of Hunger: re-defining Third Cinema', 16:9, November 2009 - 7. årgang - nummer 34
- Nicola Marzano, 'Third Cinema Today', Offscreen Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 6, 2009
- LaShonda Naté Long, 'Evoking the Kuxa Kenema: Reconstructing History and Memory through Cinema Novo in Mozambican Cinema', Powerlines, 2002
- Carrie Peplinski, 'Oral Traditions and Weapons of Resistance: The Modern Africa Filmmaker as Griot', Culture, Communication and Media Studies, (date unknown)
- Antonio Sison, 'Perfumed Nightmare and Negative Experiences of Contrast: Third Cinema as Filmic Interpretation of Schillebeeck', Journal of Religion and Film, Vol. 6, No. 1, April 2002
- Robert Stam, 'Hybridity and the Aesthetics of Garbarge', E.A.I.L, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1998
- Tia Wong, 'Eyeing Resistance: Alanis Obomsawin’s Third Cinema/Gaze/World', Cinephile, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2006
- Jonathan Wright, 'Re-remembering History in Contemporary Film', Film-Philosophy, 10.1, 2006
Other Useful Resources: