This dissertation addresses representations of Afro-Brazilians and Afro-Cubans in Brazilian and Cuban films. Particularly, it focuses on the intersection of these representations with the construction of national hegemonic discourses and identities, and thus takes into consideration issues of race, gender and social class. The Brazilian films analyzed include "Ganga Zumba" (1962), "Xica da Silva" (1976) and "Quilombo" (1986)~all directed by Carlos Diegues. The selected Cuban productions are "El otro Francisco" (1974), by Sergio Giral, and "Cecilia" (1982), by Humberto Solas. The point of departure of this study is the claim that, traditionally, people of African descent and their culture have been integrated into Brazilian and Cuban national hegemonic discourses in a similar fashion.
This study focuses on Brazilian and Cuban cinema, as part of the broader category of the New Latin American Cinema, because comparison between the two offers unique possibilities. Afro-Brazilians and Afro-Cubans, and their cultural influence, historically have been treated similarly. Also, the articulation of national cinemas in their respective countries exhibits many parallels, yet their social, political and economic contexts were quite different.
A multidisciplinary theoretical framework is used to analyze these films. This framework draws on Feminist and Semiotic film theory as well as on Cultural and Post-Colonial Studies approaches. It also maintains a dialogue with some of the most fundamental postulates by Latin American filmmakers and scholars.
The conclusions, drawn after careful analysis of each film, include the evidence that all five films indeed allow for fissures within which people of African descent and women speak. However, these texts concurrently provide containment devices that enframe these social groups within a national, historical pedagogy.