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[Lucrecia Martel, interviewed by Demetrios Matheou, "Vanishing Point", Sight and Sound, 20:3, March 2010, pp. 28-32, 32 (our emphasis).]
Martel used shallow depth-of-field, or compression, in her previous films to bring her central characters, members of Argentina’s bourgeoisie, into relief against their surroundings and the huddled bodies that crowded around them. In The Headless Woman, her use of compression is even more purposeful. It illustrates [the main character's] “separation from reality” [...]. The plane of focus remains on her because that separation is part of the subject of the film.
[Michael S. Smith, 'Lucrecia Martel's Immersive Cinema', Filmwell, July 31, 2009 (our emphasis)]
Argentine director Lucrecia Martel's first three feature-length films (La ciénaga/The Swamp , La niña santa/The Holy Girl , and La mujer sin cabeza/The Headless Woman ) have each made an extraordinary international impact.
Emerging from the aesthetic and discursive framework of the so-called 'New Argentine Cinema', these elliptical narratives all take the same, very local, focus, each of them located in Salta, the northern province of Argentina where Martel grew up. As well as their dark figurations of family, class, national, sexual and racial tensions, they share a caustic humour, a riveting sense of the absurd, and a rich intertextuality with other films and literary texts.
This symposium, hosted by the Centre for Visual Fields (School of English) and the School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex, will reflect on what we fervently hope is merely the first decade of Lucrecia Martel's feature-filmmaking career. The invited speakers, from the fields of Argentine and Latin American studies, social and critical theory, and film and visual studies, will explore this director's work using a number of different 'planes of focus', to correspond with some of those discernible in Martel's work: the local, the transnational, the political, the cultural, the historical, the memorial, the hauntological, the affective, the sexual, the real, the aesthetic and the intertextual.
The symposium is free to attend but please email Catherine Grant to register your intention to come along.
All sessions will take place in ARTS B 274, University of Sussex, Falmer, UK (link opens Google Maps). Directions to the university may be found here.
12-12.45: LUNCH AND WELCOME
12.45-2.30: SESSION 1
- Joanna Page, 'Martel's Fabulations'
- Dolores Tierney, 'On transnational aesthetics and Martel's films'
- Debbie Martin, ''Wholly ambivalent demon-girl: horror, the uncanny and the representation of feminine adolescence in Lucrecia Martel's La niña santa/The Holy Girl'
2.30-3.30pm: SESSION 2
- Maria M. Delgado, 'La mujer sin cabeza/The Headless Woman: silence, historical memory and metaphor'
- Cecilia Sosa, 'The Headless Woman (2008): A counter narrative of mourning in 13 acts (and a queer dog)'
3.30-4pm COFFEE BREAK, including the first ever English-subtitled screening of Pescados/Fish (Lucrecia Martel, 2010: 4'19"), shown with the permission of the filmmaker.
4.00-5.00pm: SESSION 3
- Catherine Grant, 'The Haunting of The Headless Woman'
- Jens Andermann, 'Accidents and Miracles: subjectivity and politics in Martel's films'
5.00-6.00pm: SESSION 4 Responses/discussion
Information about the speakers:
- Jens Andermann is Professor of Latin American and Luso-Brazilian Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London and an editor of the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies. He has published widely on Latin American visual, literary and material culture, including the books The Optic of the State: Visuality and Power in Argentina and Brazil (2007) and Mapas de poder: Una arqueología literaria del espacio argentino (2000). Between 2008 and 2010 Andermann conducted an AHRC-funded international research network Recoveries of the Real: New Argentine and Brazilian Cinema in the Global Image-World. His book New Argentine Cinema will be published by I.B. Tauris in November 2011.
- Maria Delgado is Professor of Theatre and Screen Arts at Queen Mary, University of London. She is Programme Advisor to the London Film Festival and London Spanish Film Festival and chairs the Board of the theatre company ATC. She has published several books, as well as numerous other works, on theatre and film which have been translated into several languages. Her film reviews have regularly appeared in Sight and Sound and she has also contributed to BBC Radio's Night Waves, Front Row and the Film Programme.
- Catherine Grant is Senior Lecturer (part time) in Film Studies in the School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex. She has published on Latin American and French cinema and culture, theories and transnational practices of film and cultural authorship, and feminist and queer film theories. She co-edited Screening World Cinema with Annette Kuhn (Routledge, 2006). In 2008, she created Film Studies For Free, a widely-read, online portal-archive of multimedia, scholarly resources. She is researching by practice the potential for internet-based, videographic film studies.
- Debbie Martin is a Lecturer in Latin American Studies at the University of Bath. and has a particular interest in Colombian culture. She is currently working on representations of the child and adolescent in Latin American cultural production. Her article "Wholly Ambivalent Demon-girl: Horror, the Uncanny and the Representation of Feminine Adolescence in Lucrecia Martel's La niña santa" will be published in the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies in June 2011.
- Joanna Page, Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies at the University of Cambridge, specialises in Argentine literature and cinema. She is the author of Crisis and Capitalism in Contemporary Argentine Cinema (Duke University Press, 2009), which included a chapter on Martel's first two films which was one of the first sustained studies of her work in English. Page also co-edited Visual Synergies in Fiction and Documentary Film from Latin America with Miriam Haddu (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
- Cecilia Sosa is an Argentine sociologist and cultural journalist, currently finishing her PhD in Drama at Queen Mary, University of London, working on the new filiations and affects that emerged in the aftermath of Argentina’s dictatorship. She published ‘A Counter-narrative of Argentine Mourning. The Headless Woman (2008), directed by Lucrecia Martel’ in Theory, Culture & Society. She has two articles in Cultural Studies and Memory Studies. She has authored the chapter ‘Queering Acts of Mourning in the Aftermath of Argentina’s Dictatorship: the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and Los Rubios (2003)’ in Memory of State Terrorism in the Southern Cone published by Palgrave Macmillan in April 2011.
- Dolores Tierney is Lecturer in Film Studies in the School of Media, Film and Music at Sussex University. She has published on Latin American cinema in Screen, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos, Revista Iberoamericana, New Cinemas, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, is the author of Emilio Fernández (Manchester, 2007) and the co-editor of Latsploitation, Exploitation Cinema and Latin America with Victoria Ruetalo (Routledge, 2009). She is currently finishing a book about Latin American transnational cinema.
This Symposium has been organised by Catherine Grant, John David Rhodes, Dolores Tierney, Rosalind Galt and Michael Lawrence.