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Research articles

Heading south, screening the South

Antonio J. Traverso

Are you going away?

To the South
Where to?
I dont know
Fernando Solanas, Sur/South, 1988
Fear is a ledge above the sea and a crevasse
Barnacles spangling the sea-level blocks
sieving the high-tide, black-backed albatross.
Wave exploding. Fear is the sea
Surf thunders into the Gap
Fear is the wind, the ocean swelling, vertigo.
Im on all fours crabbing into the comfort of an overhang
rock heaves beneath me. Fear is the edge.

Barbara Temperton, Southern Edge

Every day hundreds of people travel back and forth between southern countries.
And with people travel cultures, experiences, memories and images. The Southern
Screens project takes on a transversal southsouth approach to the study of screen
culture across transnational and transcultural territories. It seeks to create conditions
for the generation, sharing and circulation of new knowledge that is both southern
and about the South as a specific kind of material and imaginary territory. It does
so through the study of screen cultures in the global South, addressing the broad
spectrum of cultural expression in both traditional and new screen media, including
film, television, video and digital technologies.
Antonio Traverso is affiliated to Curtin University.

ISSN 0256-0046/Online 1992-6049
29 (5) 2015
Critical Arts Projects & Unisa Press
DOI: 10.1080/02560046.2015.1125086


Antonio J. Traverso

The previous paragraph is an adapted version of the text that featured in the
programme of the international symposium Southern Screens: Transnational Zones
and Transcultural Histories on the Screens of the South, held at Curtin University,
Perth, Australia, on 12 and 13 November 2013, which attracted contributions from
media, film and cultural studies scholars from Aotearoa/New Zealand, Argentina,
Australia, Chile and South Africa. The articles collected in this special issue of
Critical Arts were developed from papers presented at that event. The authors were
invited to examine screen culture works that manifested a specific affinity with
southern cultural imaginaries and/or geographic territories, whether through theme,
authorship or material production. Contributors to the symposium were asked to
explore in their analyses of screen culture, whether directly or obliquely, cultural
knowledge that is both southern and about the South. For the purpose of the
symposium and this collection, the South is defined as a material and imaginary
territory roughly identified with the social and cultural category of global South.
While in general the articles here collected do analysis of screen works linked
to specific national contexts, some more or less explicitly apply comparative
approaches of cinema across national, regional and historical borders. The material
presented in this anthology constitutes the first step in a broader project that seeks
to link and encourage affinities in the research of scholars working within and
on the screen cultures of the peoples and nations of the global South, promoting
collaboration and dialogue across national, political, cultural and linguistic borders.
Thus, the Southern Screens symposium saw in 2013 the founding of the South
of the West: Southern Screens Research Network, which seeks to connect screen
culture scholars and practitioners working from Antarctica, Aotearoa/New Zealand,
Africa, Australia, South America, Southern Asia and the islands of the South Pacific
as well as others elsewhere who identify with the global South. The first major
activity of this international network was the inaugural Cinema at the End of the
World international conference, held at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia,
1619 November 2015, which expanded the discussion initiated by the symposium
of 2013. It is expected that the Cinema at the End of the World conference will
become an itinerant, biannual international gathering of southern screen culture
scholars and practitioners.
In the pages below, rather than rehearse and remap reasonably well-known
contributions to the theory and practice of cinema that have emerged from the global
South, for example the radical, decolonising film movements of Latin America and
Africa in the 1960s and 1970s and the theoretical interventions that the former have
elicited (Martin 1997; Murphy and Williams 2007; Pick 1993; Tomaselli 1989), I
would like to draw a web of references to other areas of theory and creative practice
that express affinities with the idea of the global South. These references, I hope, will
enter into a dialogue with the bibliographic and filmographic tapestry traced by the


Heading south, screening the South

contributors to this collection, and find a useful place within an emerging critical,
comparative discussion of the screen culture of the global South. In the final section,
I outline the articles collected for the present special issue of Critical Arts.

The idiom the south brings to mind both the idea of a navigational direction and
that of an imaginary location. As a direction, the south is by definition countered
by the north both as its opposite and its condition of existence. In Spanish the
colloquial expression un norte (a north) is still today understood as a synonym for
destination, target or aim, normally used in an abstract sense to denote a meaningful
purpose in someones life. In this usage of north, its opposite is never voiced but
implied tacitly as a lack of will, meaning or goal, that is, as loss of direction, as
wasted life. The etymology of such privileged use of the word north is undoubtedly
spelled out by the long history of subjugation by northern societies of the peoples of
nether regions. Through centuries of expansive imperialism, colonialism and neocolonialism nations of the northern hemisphere became in the global imaginary the
worlds power centre. As a result, the expressions global North and global South
are commonly used as denotative of, respectively, dominant centre and dependent
periphery, generally attributing the denomination global North to the United States
(US), Western Europe and developed nations in Asia and the South Pacific. If all
roads lead to Rome, if only the North is a legitimate destination, the South as a
direction is then marked by a sense of loss of direction and meaning, of life on the
outskirts. Thus, as a nebulous location of identity, the South is branded with the
emblems of the marginal, the liminal and the interstitial.
The sense of experiencing life from an invisible, distant periphery as opposed
to the luminosity of the centre often surfaces in the expressions of writers and
artists from southern regions, such as in Uruguayan Mario Benedettis poem El sur
tambin existe (The south also exists). He boldly puts it in terms of a southnorth
binary opposition:
With its grand chimneys, and its Chicago School
With its predicators, and its Defence budgets
With all its missiles, and its encyclopedias
With its Star Wars, the North gives the orders
But down, down here
The always available hungry
Resort to the bitter fruit of what others decide
Down here
Men and women, each in their hideout


Antonio J. Traverso
Discard what is useless and use what is useful
Down here, memory omits no recollection
With its hardened hope, and its veteran faith
The South also exists
Benedetti 20001

Trinidad Barrera (2000) highlights Benedettis simultaneous appeal to both the

regional and global politics of the NorthSouth dyad. The poem, she argues, reads
as the manifesto of a Latin American, an Americano from the South, who confronts
the colossal American North, but which at the same time signifies the NorthSouth
everywhere in the world.2 She adds that the whole of Benedettis poem is organised
in terms of
the axis the North dictates/the South also exists. The north is power, glory, the key
to the Kingdom, dominant, invasive, exploiter of natural resources, and capitalist; the
South is subjected, dominated, invaded, hungry, and its only capital lies in its hardened
hope and veteran faith but above all in its solidarity, its communion with nature, its
fraternal affect. (Barrera 2000)3

Yet the NorthSouth trope as a signifier of visible centre/invisible periphery power

relations is evidently not all-encompassing. In many cases the relation of power
is actually inverted in the geography and, correspondingly, this variation finds
expression in the culture. Such is, for example, the unique case of Canada, which is
comprised of at least three founding nations; the French and English, who are recalled
daily in both official languages, and the First Nations, who are rising up to reclaim
their stolen lands (Berland 2009: 19). Canadas diverse peoples find themselves,
unlike the inhabitants of the Americas from Mexico to Cape Horn, living north of
empire (Berland 2009). In North of empire, Jody Berland (ibid: 15) analyses the
role of cultural technologies in forming the spaces of empire, citing Edward Saids
1993 definition of imperialism as the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a
dominant metropolitan center ruling a distant territory (cited in Berland 2009: 15).
According to Berland (2009: 1516),
Canada and the United States both exist because European settlers pillaged and foraged
indigenous lands and populations. But Canada has been ordered as both subject and
object of empire. Canada is now more closely tied to the American economy than is
any other Western nation, and as its closest neighbor and largest trading partner has
experienced greater vulnerability to American politics, finances, military investments,
and cultural industries than any other country. The sense of being marginal to a
dominant metropolitan centre and divided within its borders is formative to its


Heading south, screening the South

In the popular culture of the US, references to Canada are normally made in
connection to themes of deviance or incapacity, such as drug use, alternative
sexualities, moral liberalism and mental illness, and they are read as the speakers
intent to satirise (ibid: 12). Canadian television has surveyed with appalling results
the general knowledge that US citizens including politicians and other public
figures have of their northern neighbour; general knowledge not only of Canadas
admirable, often progressive, contributions to art, music, literature, theory and
cosmopolitan politics, but also its basic history, society and geography. America
does not see Canada at all (ibid: 3).4 Within this historical and cultural context, it is
significant to realise how different the North is for Canadians in comparison to most
of the world. The North appears in the [Canadian] cultural imaginary as a mythic
topos in which distance is part of its representational vocabulary (ibid: 18). And
whereby for all those living south of Rio Grande, such as the poet Benedetti, the
North is the powerful ruler, for Canadians it seems rather a fundamental marker of
their cultural identity: Because we have the North, we are the North (ibid.). An
aesthetics of distance, silence and solitude typifying the North as a mythic topos
can be perceived with recurrent persistence in Canadian literature, art and cinema.
This northern sensibility is, for example, expressed in the work of iconic Canadian
pianist, composer, writer, theorist, and television and radio broadcaster Glenn
Herbert Gould (19321982).5 In a work produced for CBC Radio in 1967, namely,
an experimental music-concrte documentary (exploring the musical qualities of
ambience sound and voice), entitled The Idea of North and the first installment in
his Solitude Trilogy, Gould focused on the people who live in the far recesses of
Northern Canada. In the opening of The Idea of North, Gould states:
Ive long been intrigued by that incredible tapestry of tundra and taiga which constitutes
the Arctic and sub-Arctic of our country Yet like all but a very few Canadians Ive
had no real experience of the North. Ive remained, of necessity, an outsider. And the
North has remained for me a convenient place to dream about, spin tall tales about, and
in the end avoid. This program, however, brings together some remarkable people who
have had a direct confrontation with that northern third of Canada, whove lived and
worked there and in whose lives the North has played a very vital role. (Gould 1967)6

In Goulds and Berlands work, as well as much of Canadian culture and theory, the
idea and image of the North seems remarkably similar to what the South implies for
Benedetti and a good section of the world.
For Australia, the NorthSouth relation is also a complicated one, although in a
very different way to Canadas. Middle- and upper-class white Australians, largely in
possession of uncomplicated access to the worlds power centres, toy with a national
identity symbolism they fashion around the Down Under phrase. Some of them,
however, do not garner such pride from the underdog condition. This is the case


Antonio J. Traverso

of Stuart McArthur, who in graduating from the University of Melbourne published

his now popular Universal corrective map of the world on Australias national day in
1979.7 This unorthodox world map, often referred to as an upside down map, and
sometimes as a reverse map, shows the standard mappa mundi inverted in relation
to the conventional modern map, with the geographical south up and the north down,
that is, with South America, the South Pacific, Australia and Africa featured in the
top half of the picture, yet with all the maps text the right way up.8 The common
reference to this map as upside down defeats, however, McArthurs corrective
intent as expressed in the maps title. The upside down denomination depletes the
critical attention that the maps alternative perspective gives in the first place to
the idea that the cartographic representation of the world is conventional and, as
such, socially constructed. Rather, the upside down nomenclature reinforces the
perception of this alternative map as incorrect (nothing more than an Aussie tease)
and in this sense renormalises the hegemonic view of power relations and structures
among the worlds nations (this is a point that Walescka Pino-Ojeda also makes in her
contribution to this collection). Upside down also obscures a further correction
that McArthur introduced into his map: Australia is seen positioned in the vertical
centre of the chart, thus pushing the Greenwich meridian, and therefore England
and Western Europe, from the center of the world to its periphery. The centrality of
Australia on the map is expanded by McArthurs hyperbolic, parodic caption, which
in part reads: No longer will the South wallow in a pit of insignificance, carrying
the North on its shoulders [] South emerges on top [] South is superior. South
dominates! Long live AUSTRALIA RULER OF THE UNIVERSE!! (McArthur
1979).9 Whereas McArthurs nationalist charade conflates the South with Australia
alone, while reversing the traditional world order through a juvenile fantasy of
Australian universal imperialism, regrettably he missed the unique occasion that
the alternative geopolitical perspective encouraged by his map offered him, that is,
the opportunity to publish a global manifesto for the emergence of the South as a
transversal, rather than imperial, transnational alliance.
South-up, rather than upside down, is nonetheless the preferred denomination
for non-standard maps that show the geographical south in the top half. Southup maps are far from new; cartographic historiography shows that prior to the
16th centurys definitive dominance of the modern north-up world map (modeled
on Ptolomys 2AD world map), pre-modern Asian, Middle-Eastern and European
cartographers drew the world variably placing the north, the south or even the east up
(Danforth 2014). In addition, the familiar Australian vox-pop claim that McArthurs
would be the first modern south-up map is challenged by a plethora of popular media
evidence of prior occurrences, including a south-up map created circa 1975 by Ian
Brackenbury Channell, a popular Christchurch public and media persona, self-named
the Wizard of New Zealand, who is best known for his rain dances and upside


Heading south, screening the South

down map, which puts New Zealand at the top of the world (NZ wizard 2002). In
addition, in a short article published in The Globe: Journal of The Australian and
New Zealand Map Society, Brendan Whyte (2010) pays attention to a book entitled
A letter from Sydney, the principal town of Australasia, published in London in 1829.
In the chapter called Position of Australasia, as Whyte explains, the books author,
the Englishman Edward Gibbon Wakefield (17961862), describes his making of a
south-up world map in which turning the whole upside down, Australia is relocated
to the centre of the top of the map, and England to a bottom corner (ibid: 41).10
Whyte wonders whether Wakefields chapter may not in fact contain the earliest
reference to Australia being, in effect, down under [and] to such a perception being
a result of cartographic convention? (ibid: 42).
While upside-down maps were not uncommon in earlier centuries, is this the first
deliberate attempt to create such a map (and particularly one depicting Australia) in the
modern era, predating by a century and a half such maps as the McArthurs Universal
Corrective Map of the World and the New World Map on the Wizards Projection
? (ibid.)

Danforth (2014) suggests that gestures such as McArthurs symbolize a noble wish:
that we could overturn the unjust political and economic relationships in our world
as easily as we can flip the maps on our walls. However, such symbolic cartographic
reversals and righteous wishes have had and can have no effect on the hard fact that,
as Danforth (ibid.) himself points out, the global south continues to suffer more than
its share of violence and poverty.
Well known is also the theory that Australias territory would have been first
populated by humans moving south through waves of migration spreading by sea
from northern neighbouring land (a theory that is critically considered in Mick
Brodericks contribution to this collection). For example, the stretch of ocean
between Papua New Guinea and the northernmost point of Queensland is visibly
hectic with small islands. This archipelago-like geography generated a culture of
navigational travel, circulation and exchange between the northern and southern
edges going back thousands of years. As we know all too well, in modern times and
until today this maritime history has painfully turned into an increasingly ruthless
official strategy of border protection on the part of Australia. Successive Australian
governments and a good part of the dominant white Australian public have chosen
not only to forget the said navigational culture that ancient Australia was once a part
of, but they also ignore modern Australias own militaristic, political and economic
role in the gestation of instability in the region. In a peculiar reversal, what the South
has been for Western Europe and the US, the North has become for Anglo-Saxon
Australia, that is, not only a source of natural, economic and cultural resources but
also a cultural fantasy of threat, contamination and desire. This is so because this


Antonio J. Traverso

nation has chosen to maintain despite its geographical distance from Europe its
ties to its colonial-settler heritage and its membership of the alliance of Western
powers. However, as Regina Ganter (2006: 26) argues:
If we turn the map upside down and start Australian history where its documentation
properly begins in the north the kaleidoscope of Australian history falls into a
completely different pattern. Prior contact with Muslim Asians on the north coasts
and the cultural bridge of the Torres Strait into coastal New Guinea, make nonsense
of the idea of an isolated continent. Indeed, until World War II, whites were heavily
outnumbered in the north by close-knit Asian and indigenous communities. Instead of a
White Australian past in the north we see a history of mixed relations.

As pointed out above, McArthur missed with his south-up map a fine opportunity
to promote to the public the idea of Australias friendly consolidation of its own
historical and geographical position among its neighbours in the South Pacific region
and southern hemisphere. Ganter, on the contrary, shows precisely that a position in
a busy network of exchange between north and south is what Australia once had, but
has now lost.
Thus, the ambivalence between the south as direction and the south as location
both encourages and complicates identity while evoking an aesthetics of distance
and outsiderness. The South as a marker of identity also evokes a sense of human
life as a quest and a struggle to prevail amidst the rawness of uncompromising
social and natural landscapes. Such qualities do not manifest in isolation but are
shared in the cultural and environmental histories of southern settler societies, for
example, Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand and New Caledonia in the South Pacific.
As Donald Garden (2005: xiii) argues, [w]hile the places and peoples of Oceania,
New Zealand, and Australia are very diverse, there are observable patterns in their
environmental histories, that is, their histories of interaction with the natural
environment. Furthermore, according to Denoon, Mein-Smith and Wyndham (2000),
in these southern territories diverse peoples historically engaged in the construction of
cultural identities not in isolation but in the midst of regional political and economic
interaction. For Denoon et al. the national significance of certain historical themes is
shared by all in the region, albeit manifested differently, including the dispossession
and genocide of Indigenous peoples, the legacies of European colonialism, and the
impact of 20th-century wars and geopolitical rearrangements.
As a marker of cultural identity, the South also evokes realms of the imagination
that seem haunted by the inevitability of merciless physical geographies and natural
forces the weather, the ocean, the earths movements and by the disastrous
consequences that their incessant motion sometimes have on human individuals and
populations. Western Australian writer Barbara Tempertons extended poem The
Gap, which is contained in her anthology Southern Edge, evokes the aesthetics of


Heading south, screening the South

such implacable environmental might and intensity in her verses waves explode,
surf thunders, rocks heave. The poem also evokes the material, tactile aspects of
the affect through which the landscapes perpetual activity assails the human mind
and compels the fragile human body to crawl on all fours, to cling to the ground, to
hide like a crab. In Tempertons (2009: 3) fictional narrative poem fear ceases to
be merely the way a subject experiences their natural surroundings, rather becoming
a material component of the extreme southern landscape: Fear is a ledge Fear
is the sea Fear is the wind Fear is the edge (ibid: 4445). The poem, the
author informs us, is inspired by local legends of unwitnessed and unexplained
human vanishings from the southern edge of Western Australia (ibid: 3). In it we
gain glimpses of the story of a young woman who disappears without a trace during
a visit to the colossal rock fissure known as The Gap, a coastal landmark that faces
the Southern Ocean near the city of Albany. The trope of the enigmatic vanishing
in the midst of an indifferent, unyielding and trancelike landscape has often been
rehearsed in Australian oral culture, literature and cinema; and Joan Lindsays 1967
gothic novel Picnic at Hanging Rock and Peter Weirs 1975 homonymous screen
adaptation are among the best-known examples.11
However, the conflicted imaginary relationship that humans develop with a
natural environment that never ceases to appear as overwhelming and unfathomable
is certainly a sign that belongs in the settlers culture. In their cultures, Indigenous
peoples of the southern lands manifest alternative ways of relating to their natural
environment. Their conflict is rather the history of displacement, dispossession and
genocide brought about by colonialism and settlement. This is the central theme
of internationally acclaimed director Patricio Guzmns documentary El botn de
ncar/The Pearl Button (2015), which includes recent interviews with some of the
survivors among the first peoples of the southernmost extreme of Chile, a region
known as Western Patagonia or Tierra del Fuego, a broken geography that ends up
collapsing into the Southern Ocean, which separates the tail of the Southern Cone
from Antarctica. Through these interviews and archival photography, Guzmns film
shows the intimate relationship that the original dwellers of Patagonia developed
with the harsh southern climate and landscape, which allowed them not only to
survive there but develop a rich cosmic culture, only to succumb to genocide soon
after the arrival of European and Chilean settlers.
Like Guzmns documentaries, much art, music, literature, cinema and political
culture from southern nations has been given sustained attention in dominant
European and North-American academic circles. Yet the same cannot be said about
critical theory and science emerging from southern nations, in spite of notable
exceptions, such as Cuban Fernando Ortiz (transculturation), Brazilian Paulo Freire
(pedagogy of the oppressed) and Chilean Humberto Maturana (autopoiesis), among
others, who are often cited or studied in scholarship in English. In Southern theory,


Antonio J. Traverso

Raewyn Connell (2007: viii) precisely discusses social theorising that has arisen
in situations where dependence has been challenged. She explains the choice
of the phrase Southern theory as a generic label for these alternative bodies of
knowledge through this terms connotations. Not unlike the expression Subaltern
studies, she writes, Southern theory calls attention to periphery-centre relations
in the realm of knowledge (ibid.). It also emphasises that the majority world does
produce theory and that social thought happens in particular places (ibid: ix).12
In her book, Connell discusses original social ideas emerging from four distinctive
locations: postcolonial Africa, modernising Iran, Latin America since World War II,
and India since the Emergency of the 1970s (ibid: viii). She stresses that she seeks
to take this theorising seriously, as texts to learn from, not just about, thus exploring
what these debates reveal about the project of theorising in the global periphery,
its intellectual and practical problems, and its differing forms (ibid.). Against the
objection that these theories may offer frameworks of understanding relevant only
to the study of their specific location, Connell points out that a central concern of
southern theories is precisely how to read social theory, which concerns the way
texts communicate beyond their immediate contexts [and] the way they might enter
a global communication of knowledge (ibid: xiii).
Likewise, Portuguese social science scholar Boaventura de Sousa Santos work
has focused on what he terms epistemologias do Sul (epistemologies of the South),
a critical social theory that Santos has been developing at least since the turn of
the century. Epistemologies of the South refers to theoretical and methodological
frameworks produced from and through the South for the recognition, recuperation
and generation of original and globally relevant ideas about the social world. Such
epistemologies, according to De Sousa, entertain a notion of the South that is
not geographical but metaphorical (Santos 2012a: 16), that is, the global South.
Therefore, he adds, the denomination refers also to the South that exists in the
North, for example, oppressed and marginalised groups within Europe and the
United States, adding that a global North also exists in the South; it is the local elites
that benefit from global capitalism (Santos 2012a: 16).13 Elsewhere, Santos (2012b:
51) defines the ideological position from which there emerge the epistemologies of
the South as a counter-hegemonic location: this is an anticapitalist, anti-colonialist,
and anti-imperialist South. And he counts among the excluded, silenced and
marginalised that constitute the metaphorical South in the global North populations,
undocumented immigrants, the unemployed, ethnic or religious minorities, and
victims of sexism, homophobia and racism (ibid.). Santos explains the simple double
premise on which an epistemology of the South is founded: the understanding of the
world produced by conventional Western science and theory is by necessity limited,
while the diversity of available forms of understanding in the world is limitless:


Heading south, screening the South

It is a diversity that encompasses very distinct modes of being, thinking and feeling,
ways of conceiving of time and the relation among human beings and between
humans and non-humans, ways of facing the past and the future and of collectively
organising life, the production of goods and services, as well as leisure. This immensity
of alternatives of life, conviviality and interaction with the world is largely wasted
because the theories and concepts developed in the global North and employed in the
entire academic world do not identify such alternatives. When they do, they do not
valorise them as being valid contributions towards constructing a better society. (ibid.)

For Santos, it is crucial to conceive the South in a politically dynamic, creative and
counter-hegemonic way in order for spaces around the world to open up that allow
the disclosure and use of epistemologies of the South, that is, alternative bodies of
knowledge and experience. This includes not only knowledge of the social world that
has been so far obscured and disregarded by conventional social science, but also
new knowledge that may be in the process of gestation or articulation, and whose
progress would be otherwise obstructed. To engage with these two types of Southern
knowledge, Santos proposes, respectively, two methodologies or epistemological
operations that he denominates sociology of absences and sociology of
emergences. The former is an enquiry that seeks to explain that what does not exist
is in fact actively produced as non-existent [and to] transform impossible into possible
objects, absent into present objects, invisible or non-credible subjects into visible
and credible subjects (Santos 2006: 15). Moreover, the sociology of emergences
aims to identify and enlarge the signs of possible future experiences, under the guise
of tendencies and latencies that are actively ignored by hegemonic rationality and
knowledge (ibid: 29).14 While the above southern theories are not engaged in the
contributions to this collection (although some of these concepts are implicit), their
substantial citation in this editorial responds to the need for screen culture committed
to the global South to open up to this conceptual and methodological potential for the
development of a southern screen studies.

When doing a Google search for the phrase southern screens, as I was recently
looking for the Southern Screens symposiums homepage, I was firstly surprised to
see that the first relevant entry being for the abovementioned 2015 Cinema at the
End of the World conferences call for papers only appeared on the second page,
while the first link relevant to the 2013 symposium was as far back as the fourth
page. I was then amused to realise that on the first and second pages there were
numerous links to the websites of manufacturers of security doors and windows
bearing the same title, or such derivatives as Southern Star Screens. I was finally
intrigued by the fact that these companies were located as far apart as Adelaide


Antonio J. Traverso

and Tasmania on the southern-eastern edge of Australia, and Tennessee in the USs
mid-South. A lone (and decidedly more relevant) entry corresponds to the Southern
Screen Film Festival of Louisiana, in the deep South of the US. In spite of the
semantic diversity mobilised by the term screen, all of the above titles have in
common the use of south or southern as a direct appeal to an identity based on
a sense of belonging to place, and this location is perceived as a South. Yet, it
is undoubtedly the South located in the North, the so-called American South,15
that has motivated the largest, most prolific, and most diverse and nuanced body
of creative and scholarly work for well over a century. Indeed, what is sometimes
referred to simply as Southern Studies, as a denomination for the exclusive study
of the history and culture, including its literature and cinema, of the southern region
of the US, is so substantial and multiple a field that it has in fact always interacted
with creators and thinkers from other parts of the global South. For all these reasons,
it should hardly be absent from any critical, comparative discussion about the screen
culture of the global South.
Southern Literary Studies is a well-established field of scholarly criticism of what
is known as Southern literature, which is the writing produced in the South of the
US. In the scholarship this region, which includes states such as Florida, Alabama,
Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana, is commonly referred to as the South.
Often reduced in popular culture to the features of classic 19th-century, deep South
narrative universes, Southern literature or Southern letters (Humphries and Lowe
1996),16 is instead a prolific and heterogeneous literary corpus.17 But despite the
debate as to what may constitute Southern literature whether determined by place
of birth or dwelling, content or theme the substantial body of creative writing
debated by Southern literature scholarship speaks of particular ways of experiencing
life, of understanding the world, of relating to the land and to others; and of specific
localities, from coastal to mountainous landscapes, changing languages and dialects,
and myriad human types.18 Fundamentally concerned with psychological and
social conflict, Southern literature has explored issues of race, class, sexuality, the
traumatic legacies of slavery, life in the southern cotton plantation, the Civil War,
white supremacist violence, and the Civil Rights movement, and more recently an
ecocritical focus has gained momentum. In spite of the regional specificity of its
historical, geographic and socio-cultural references, there is an impending sense of
global relevance of this literature and the scholarship that studies it.
Internationally acclaimed Alice Walker (2001), who is widely identified with the
US South, explains what a socially-based southern identity may mean for a black
What the black Southern writer inherits as a natural right is a sense of community We
knew, I suppose, that we were poor But we never considered ourselves to be poor,
unless, of course, we were deliberately humiliated. And because we never believed we


Heading south, screening the South

were poor, and therefore worthless, we could depend on one another without shame. It
went without saying, in my mothers day, that birth and death required assistance from
the community, and that the magnitude of these events was lost on outsiders.

At the same time, Walker (2004) questions the legitimacy of a literary southern
I dont consider myself a southern writer. I think Im dealing with regions inside people
Also, when you think of southern writers, you think of white southern writers. I
dont really have any interest in integrating southern writers. On the other hand, how
can I possibly ever not be considered a southern writer since I am a southerner and
since I write?

Undoubtedly, Walkers thoughts will echo in the minds and lives of many an inhabitant
of the global South. The relevance that the narrative worlds of the US South and its
attendant critical writing may have for outsiders located in the global South is also
illustrated by the universal appeal as well as the ideological controversies generated
by the classic tales of Twain and Faulkner,19 but also because of the sustained
attention that cinema avant-garde, documentary, Indie and Hollywood has given
to this region and its literary and cultural traditions, both classic and contemporary.
In 2014 the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) ran a screening
season of David Gordon Greens Joe (2013), starring Nicolas Cage as an ex-con who
is a familiar figure in the pantheon of grubby Southern saints a primal, calloused,
and fractured man (Millikan 2014). To promote and honour Greens film, Matt
Millikan published on the website of ACMI a contextualising outline plainly called
The South on Screen. Millikans text opens with an engaging description of the
images and themes of the cinematic depiction of the South:
Under the Deep Souths searing sun, grotesque souls swelter through blighted landscapes,
scouring decayed plantation houses for salvation or sinking into the swamps of their
own depravity. In cinema, the American South bare-knuckle boxes with its decadent
past from the opulence built by slavery and defeat in the Civil War to the tumultuous
history of race relations and religious conservatism hoping to emerge victorious and
renewed. (ibid.)

Any uninitiated member of the Australian public attracted to Millikans evocative

title very soon realises that in this text the South and Southern stand for the US
South. Structured into four distinctive thematic sections Classics, Race Relations,
Southern Gothic and Contemporary Classics Millikans summary of the cinema of
the US South includes references to key films such as Birth of a Nation (1915), Gone
with the Wind (1936), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), In the Heat of the Night
(1967), Deliverance (1972), Angel Heart (1987) and Mud (2012). Drawn from the
cinematic corpus epitomised by these films, the phrase cinematic South has been


Antonio J. Traverso

used in both popular film culture and academic film studies almost exclusively to
denote the filmic imaginary concerning the natural, social and human landscape of
that region of the US. Describing this cinematic style, Millikan (ibid.) reminisces
about the sultry, sweaty and sensual South the languid, sensual storytelling of
the South the dubious integrity of [its] antiheroes [and] the moral turpitude that
continually characterises the celluloid South. He also draws attention to the films
embracing of gothic in their themes and visual approaches:
The uncanny and abnormal is on full display in nameless, inbred mountain men
[and] the bony twangs of duelling banjos [...] The land of brimstone-spewing preachers,
evangelical snake-handlers and Biblical justice, the Souths conservatism is often
rendered in the shadows of burning crucifixes. (ibid.)

And, in highlighting the treatment that the celluloid South gives to race, he stresses
that many films have captured the struggle to acquire, implement and maintain civil
rights exposing the rawness of a country embracing desegregation (ibid.).
Deviancy, the gothic and racial conflict are the central themes through which the
literary imaginaries of the US South have been profusely debated. It is then not
surprising that the discussion of the cinematic South be also conducted in terms of
such thematic axes, especially given that it is largely through adaptation of literary
works that the primacy of Hollywoods celluloid South (Campbell 1981) the
darkly seductive, consumer-oriented image encouraged by the US film industry
has come to be.20 As Warren French (1981: 45) puts it, rather than a nostalgic Eden
the South became in the popular arts [] the decadent backwoods and backwaters
of William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers and Truman Capotes
fictions.21 Deviancy, the gothic and race are thus central themes addressed in
Frenchs edited collection The South and Film (1981), which also debates the status
of the Southerner film as a genre in its own right (in a way equivalent to how the
Western film genre has been conceptualised).
More recent scholarship on the Southern imaginary, however, has challenged
long-held assumptions. Richard King and Helen Taylor (1996) address emerging
debates and perspectives in the study of the culturally diverse southern region of
the US, confronting the tensions between traditional literary depictions of the US
South as white-dominated, rural, [and] religious, with variations of race and gender
in contemporary multicultural forms and discourses, including popular music,
tourism and cinema (ibid.). In The South that wasnt there: postsouthern memory
and history, Michael Kreyling (2010) critically reexamines the dominant ideas and
representations of the literary South that have been normalised by commercial
cinema. Confronting literary renderings of slavery, race and class in the US South,
Kreyling questions received ideas of Southern identity and memory through
examinations of postsouthern themes, such as the commodification of nostalgia


Heading south, screening the South

and the establishment of a Southern memory market by the film, publishing and
tourism industries (ibid.).
In one of the most comprehensive anthologies of critical and postsouthern
perspectives on the relationship between film and the culture of and about the
US South, American cinema and the southern imaginary (2011), Deborah Barker
and Kathryn McKee argue that the study of the cinema of the US South needs to
follow the steps of a well-established critical comparative scholarship in Southern
literary studies, which has consistently sought to connect the narrative of the US
South to diverse narratives of the global South, in particular of Latin America. The
contemporary comparative literary field to which Barker and McKee refer in their
own study is remarkably prolific and nuanced.
In History and memory in the two souths: recent southern and Spanish American
fiction (1999), for example, Deborah Cohn contributes to the ongoing debate on the
historical and cultural links between the literatures of the US and Latin-American
countries. Cohns phrase the two souths denominates, respectively, the US South
and all the nations south of Rio Grande, from Mexico to Chile and Argentina. Rather
than highlight divisions, she uses this phrase to draw connections across neighboring
spaces (as expressed in the title of her first chapter), whereby these are understood
more as socio-historical and cultural neighbourhoods than geographical ones. Cohn
discusses race, class and gender issues involved in the discursive construction of
the past in narrative fiction across regional and national boundaries. Insofar as the
past of these regions is correspondingly plagued by violent conflict and lasting
suffering, writers similarly face common difficulties in the task of recovering and
reconstructing historical imaginaries (in her first two chapters titles she stresses the
Search for meaning in difficult pasts and the Problems of reconstructing the past).
Cohn pays special attention to meaningful convergences between US Southern
and Latin-American history and culture, arguing that, as Wendy Faris (2001: 250)
puts it, it is because of the historical legacies of the slave trade and the political
complications and violent backlash of Reconstruction (18651877), that the
U.S. South and Spanish America are similarly tied to their pasts. Thus, Cohn has
contributed copiously to the development and systematisation of this transnational,
postsouthern critical perspective. More recently she edited with John Smith a
comparative, interdisciplinary collection of essays that unequivocally situates the
discussion of the US South within postcolonial studies. In Look away! The US
south in new world studies, Smith and Cohn expand the latters argument that it is
the particular socio-historical make-up of the US South that explains the manifest
cultural and identitary affinities it has with Latin America. Smith and Cohn (2004)
argue that some of the major characteristics that mark the South as exceptional
within the US including the legacies of a plantation economy and slave trade are
common to most of the Americas. At the same time, however, because as part of the


Antonio J. Traverso

United States, the South [is] both center and margin, victor and defeated, and empire
and colony [it] complicates ideas of the postcolonial (ibid.).
Lois P. Zamoras (1989, 2008) extensive work on the historical imagination in
US and Latin-American fiction has also contributed significant developments in a
comparative, postcolonial perspective to the study of the interconnected histories
and cultures of the American continent. In The usable past: the imagination of
history in recent fiction of the Americas, Zamora identifies multiple connections
in the ways North- and Latin-American authors have imagined the regions past
through explorations of colonisation and independence, mestizaje and melting pot,
domination and self-determination, and the ambivalence of history in a new world
(Zamora 2008). In fact, numerous other Southern studies scholars have addressed
the echoes of the literature of the US South, especially the work of William Faulkner,
in the literature of Latin America Borges, Vargas Llosa, Fuentes, Garca Mrquez
and the Caribbean Edouard Glissant, Gustavo Prez Firmat and V.S. Naipaul (Irby
1956; Pagni 2001; Smith and Cohn 2004).22
Expanding Barker and McKees recommendation in American cinema and
the southern imaginary (2011) that US South film scholars should devote critical
comparative attention to cinemas of the global South, there is today the imperative
need that the study of all national, regional and transnational cinemas in the global
South be conducted with a transversal interest in the social and cultural histories
of neighboring spaces, to borrow Cohns suggestive expression. A transversal,
comparative southsouth approach would by definition be critical and explorative,
seeking to contest the hegemonic dominance (hence normalisation) of its key concepts
and methodologies. For example, as Barker and McKee (2011: 2) point out about the
work collected in their book, it challenges the foundational term southern, in some
places literally stretching the traditional boundaries of regional identification until
they all but disappear. They stress that this innovative approach is not interested in
denying the particularities of place (ibid.) but in examining the nexus of the local,
the national, and the global to track the resonances linking them (ibid: 3). Thus, they
argue that an expanded concept of the southern imaginary is necessary (ibid: 2),
loosely defining this notion as an amorphous and sometimes conflicting collection
of images, ideas, attitudes, practices, linguistic accents, histories, and fantasies about
a shifting geographic region and time (ibid.). According to Barker and McKee (ibid:
3), Southern Studies scholarship has been capable of acknowledging that the US
bears the imprint of hemispheric and global affiliations that wrench its notoriously
self-absorbed gaze outward, beyond the confines of nation. Interdisciplinary and
comparative literary studies are a further means of studying the hemispheric forces
that unite locations over and around the boundaries of the nation state that demarcate
them, spilling into Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. In a broader framework,


Heading south, screening the South

scholars have begun tentatively situating portions of the Deep South, most particularly
the former Black Belt, within the paradigms of the Global South.

The final section of Barker and McKees important book, suggestively entitled
Crossing borders, includes a chapter dedicated to the task of mapping out
a postsouthern cinema (ibid: 16) in which Jay Watson analyses films of the US
South that reveal the influence of postmodern and postcolonial culture, among
which is Mira Nairs Mississippi Masala (1991). Watsons analysis of Nairs film
relocates postcolonial confrontations in the Deep South, shattering the racial and
regional binaries of white/black and North/South that have dominated southern
representations [thus implicating] the South in a larger global sphere that remains
hidden through the singular lens of region (ibid.). This and other films discussed
in Watsons chapter most directly investigate and problematize the very idea of
the South as a self-contained geographic and cultural entity, as well as look at the
convergence of southern film with other forms of media (ibid.).
The intersection of US South narrative cinema with other film genres (such as
documentary) and other media forms (such as avant-garde or experimental film
and video produced as expanded cinema for gallery or public screening contexts)
is a significant variant because of these alternative forms enhanced capacity to
generate human affect through enactments of embodied experience across cultural
and linguistic barriers. In the case of US South documentary film, perhaps the bestknown example is the myriad video and film documentaries made about the natural,
social and human disaster produced by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana in 2005.
Media exposure to the catastrophic effects of Katrina, augmented by failing flood
infrastructure, economic and political dispossession, as well as the indifference and
incompetence of local and national authorities on impoverished black communities
in New Orleans encouraged disenfranchised viewers in the global South to empathise
through the recognition of and identification with experiences familiar to their own.
This idea is expressed by Spike Lee, director of When the Levees Broke: A Requiem
in Four Acts (2006), one of myriad documentary films shot in New Orleans in the
aftermath of Katrina: New Orleans is fighting for its life These are not people who
will disappear quietly theyre accustomed to hardship and slights, and theyll fight
for New Orleans. This film will showcase the struggle for New Orleans by focusing
on the profound loss, as well as the indomitable spirit of New Orleaneans (When the
Levees Broke, n.d.). In Moving testimonies and the geography of suffering: perils
and fantasies of belonging after Katrina (2011), Janet Walker performs an analysis
of Lees and other post-Katrina documentaries:
Cameras captured a devastated landscape in which everything had shifted: houses
lifted off foundations, or reduced to jutting piles of rubble; cars climbing the walls or
weirdly conjoined, chassis to chassis; people wandering displaced, lost in the once-


Antonio J. Traverso
familiar neighbourhoods where they had been born and raised. [] And yet the bodily
presence of returning residents describes a strong and tangible connection to place,
community, neighbourhood, and home; an affective geography that is established and
transitory, solid and imaginative. (ibid: 48)

The force of Lees and other post-Katrina video documentaries enhancing of an

affective geography or embodied connection to place, which, as Janet Walker attests,
emerges on screen in spite of the harrowing images of the traumatic void left by the
hurricane, is in many ways not unlike the affective intensity of the experimental
visual work of the influential black artist Kara E. Walker. Commenting on Kara
Walkers 2006 visual art exhibition After the Deluge, which was the artists urgent
response to the Katrina disaster and the medias discursive treatment of it, David
DArcy (2007) reports that according to Walker she was hit by daily news images of
hurricane victims reduced to bodies and nothing more. In Walkers own words:
I was seeing images that were all too familiar It was black people in a state of
life-or-death desperation, and everything corporeal was coming to the surface: water,
excrement, sewage. It was a re-inscription of all the stereotypes about the black body.
There was one iconic image a woman feeding a dog as a body just floated by in the
swollen river. (Kara Walker, cited in DArcy 2007)23

Born in California in the late 1960s, Walker lived with her family in the state of
Georgia in the southeastern US from age 13.24 A consistent topic in Walkers art has
been the violent legacy of slavery in the US, with this content manifesting through
diverse plastic and visual mediums, including film and video. In her work Walker
challenges standard narratives and depictions of the drama of slavery, through
piercing examinations of the interconnectedness of race, class, gender and sexuality,
and through deconstructive visual and textual depictions of embodiment, agency
and desire. As a result, Walkers work has attracted as much critical attention and
recognition a mini-industry of scholarship, says David Wall (2010) as it has
controversy from sections of the public, including fellow African-American artists.
According to Vivien Fryd (2011, 145), Walker disrupts conventional US histories
and embodies the hopeless and helpless repetition of trauma among individuals
and generations who lack the healing potential often implied in the act of testimony.
Fryd analyses a visual piece shot on both video and black-and-white 16mm film,
which bears one of Walkers characteristic long, mischievous titles: Eight Possible
Beginnings: Or the Creation of African-America. A Moving Picture by the Young,
Self-taught Genius of the South Kara E. Walker (Walker 2005).25 This and other
films in which Walker transfers to the medium of the moving image in the form of
animation and filmed shadow puppet action the cut-out silhouettes and text cards
she had become known for in the 1990s, as Fryd (2011, 146) writes, re-member
and re-interpret the trauma of slavery forcing viewers to bear witness to Walkers


Heading south, screening the South

world filled with obscene, haunting, humorous, and arresting images. In so far as
Walker seems capable of, in the words of Gwendolyn D. Shaw (2004), seeing the
unspeakable through her art, the work of a southern, black artist of the US, along
with the critical and political discussion it generates, seems all the more relevant to
the lives and work of activist artists, writers and filmmakers elsewhere in the global
Like Kara Walkers work, South African artist William Kentridges sculptural,
visual and film practice resonates around the global South. In his explorative art,
Kentridge uses film, video and various forms of expanded cinema, combining
a vested interest in local and regional history and politics with the application of
experimental and avant-garde approaches. Like Kara Walker, he uses a material,
time-lapse animation approach to filmmaking that references pre-filmic traditional
image-making methods, including animations of cut-out silhouettes and palimpsestlike figures drawn, erased and redrawn with charcoal and pastel on a single surface.
Kentridge was born in Johannesburg in 1955, completed a degree in politics and
African studies, and has studied and practised fine arts, theatre and film. Born into
a politically active, anti-apartheid white South African family, he became sensitive
to issues of racial conflict and social injustice in his country from an early age, and
these concerns become manifest in his art.27 In a review of William Kentridge, a
retrospective of the artist at New Yorks New Museum of Contemporary Art in 2001,
Laurie Ann Farrell (2002: 8182) describes one of Kentridges films:
Shadow Procession (1999), [is] a seven-minute film of paper cut-out figures marching
to music by the Johannesburg street musician Alfred Makgalemele. Casting shadows
across the highly reflective floor that one had to cross to enter the exhibition, the film
created a liminal space between the street entry and the galleries. The procession
appeared to consist of refugees or displaced workers and composite figures of trees
and humans These figures marched along, carrying their belongings to a new place.

And on the Tate Modern website we can read about Kentridges approach to film
Remnants of successive stages remain on the paper, and provide a metaphor for the
layering of memory which is one of Kentridges principal themes. Most of the films in
this series, titled Drawings for Projection , are set in the devastated landscape south
of Johannesburg where derelict mine and factories, mine dumps and slime dams have
created a terrain of nostalgia and loss. Kentridges repeated erasure and redrawing,
which leave marks but not complete transformation, together with the jerky movement
of the animation, operate in parallel with his depiction of human processes, both
physical and political, enacted on the landscape and, in this film in particular, on human
bodies. (William Kentridge: History of the Main Complaint 2015)


Antonio J. Traverso

The high interest in and relevance of Kentridges work for those in other southern
locations is illustrated, for example, in the documentary film Certas dvidas de
William Kentridge/Certain doubts of William Kentridge, directed and produced
by the Brazilian video collective Associao Cultural Videobrasil on location in
Johannesburg and Brazil in 2000, with the support of a grant from the Prince Claus
Fund. The documentarys synopsis on the DVD cover reads, in part: Working with
figures drawn with charcoal, paper cut-outs, animated films and theatre, William
Kentridge deals with contemporary issues that go beyond the political themes of his
native South Africa (Associao Cultural Videobrasil 2000).28 The explicit political
content, its evocative treatment, and the hands-on simplicity and materiality of
Kentridges approach give his work, as Walkers own methodology does to hers, a
universal appeal, making it recognisable and accessible, while allowing its localised
affective geographies to be relevant and meaningful in other global South locations,
where people can relate to both narrative and non-narrative audiovisual explorations
of histories of racial, ideological, class and gender-based violence and struggle.

Film and the South are historically and ideologically connected. Just over a decade
after the Lumires 1895 Paris film screenings, views of the planets southernmost
landscape, Antarctica, were imprinted on celluloid in one of the worlds earliest
cinematic documentations of human travel and the natural landscape. The modern
idea of the cinema as a moving sequence of photographic pictures that produces
the illusion of natural movement had emerged prior to Muybridges photographic
experiments with human and animal locomotion in the early 1870s. The modern
concept of cinema, as founded on scientific and technological developments, came
to light as soon as someone associated the new photographic techniques, developed
by Nipce, Daguerre, Talbot and others in the first half of the 19th century, to familiar
mechanical-optical devices traditionally used to view animated figures, drawings or
paintings, such as the magic lantern, the Zoetrope and the panorama. The nationalist
and individualist zeal of the Western men who, towards the end of the 19th century,
competed over the invention of an effective cinematic mechanism, as Edisons
Kinetoscope and the Lumire brothers Cinmatographe would turn out to be, was
to be replicated soon after in the spirit of national pride and heroic vocation of
the men who embarked on the epic race to reach the South Pole in the early 20th
century. These values are explicit in Herbert G. Pontings cinematic documentation
and narration of the fatal British Antarctic Expedition (19101912), led by Captain
Robert F. Scott, who met his death along with others after reaching the South Pole
in 1912. A centuries-old epic ideology of individual and imperial conquest that is
combined with modern scientific ideals can be discerned in Pontings silent film The
Great White Silence (1924) and the later sound version re-titled 90 Degrees South


Heading south, screening the South

(1933).29 In fact, the intertitles that introduce The Great White Silence inform the
viewer that when Ponting showed his film at Buckingham Palace, His Majesty King
George said: I wish that every British boy could see this film for it would help to
foster the spirit of adventure on which the Empire was founded (Ponting 2011).
These notions are further conveyed by the on-screen text of Pontings opening:
[Antarctica] is the home of Nature in her most savage and merciless moods never
inhabited by man utterly devoid of vegetation, and no land animals of any kind
exist there at the heart of that dread and sterile desolation there is a spot that only ten
human beings have trodden since God made the World. That spot is the uttermost end
of the earth the SOUTH POLE. (Ponting 2011)30

Narratives of heroic adventure and discovery, as constitutive of the character of the

dominant North, are thus the foundation of the ideology of empire as a mission of
conquest and appropriation. And the arena for discovery and seizure is imagined as a
remote, foreign and hostile terra nullius, an imaginary realm that is then forced onto
real territories.31 Because the merciless, concrete reality of the imagined territory
may imply the explorers demise, this possibility is assumed as the underlying
condition of any mission of conquest. As Keyan Tomaselli (2012: 345) points out,
that [l]ife and death, creation and destruction are part of existence is the subtext
of the commentaries of early explorers.
The discourse of empire in Pontings films is, however, not simple but fused
with the discourse of modern science. In the on-camera introduction to 90 Degrees
South, Edward Evans (in Ponting 1933) stresses that [t]he objects of Captain Scotts
expedition were not only to discover the South Pole, but to increase our knowledge
of that vast continent at the other end of the Earth. The emphasis given since then
to the purported scientific aims of Scotts polar expedition may be in part motivated
by the desire to eulogise the martyred explorers as much as it may be to balance out
their polar race defeat to the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who reached the South
Pole with a small team over a month prior to Scotts arrival. In her synopsis of
the BFIs 2011 DVD with the new digitally restored version of The Great White
Silence, Bryony Dixon (2015) asserts that the expedition also had a complex (and
completely genuine) scientific brief, highlighting that Scotts decision to include
a cameraman in his expedition team was a remarkable one for its time. Evans (in
Ponting 1933) also stresses the existence of the film in his introductory address in
90 Degrees South: Captain Scott was one of the first explorers to make a special
feature of photography in polar exploration. That the primary motivation for the
expedition was Scotts purpose to be the first man to step on the South Pole, thus
claiming a formal right for himself and Great Britain to further Antarctic exploration
and potential exploitation, is historically indisputable.32 At the same time, equally
incontrovertible is the authenticity of his journal of daily observations as much as


Antonio J. Traverso

Pontings film footage and photographs.33 Yet the extent to which this record-keeping
practice constitutes evidence of a scientific rationale is debatable.34
Nevertheless, Pontings films of Scotts polar expedition include all the key
ingredients a narrative of sovereignty and a scientific appearance found time and
again in subsequent Western cinematic incursions into Antarctica, beginning with
South (1920), Frank Hurleys silent film chronicle of Ernest Shackletons equally
ill-fated 19141916 Antarctic expedition.35 Recent European cinematographic
depictions of Antarctica that merge a scientific semblance with narratives of
national sovereignty disguised as humanitys heroic survival, include La Marche de
lempereur/The March of the Penguins (2005) by the French director Luc Jacquet,
a successful family film that operates on a radical narrative strategy of animal
anthropomorphism, thus confusing the generic boundaries between the fable and the
scientific documentary. In Encounters at the End of the World (2007), the German
director Werner Herzog continues some of the Antarctic themes launched by
Pontings films, firstly, through conversations with and observations of scientists
and technicians from the US living at the US McMurdo Antarctic station, who are
devoted to journeys of scientific, personal and spiritual discovery under the savage
and merciless environmental conditions of the uttermost end of the earth (Ponting
2011). Herzogs documentary makes explicit references to the Antarctic films of the
early 20th century, not only in the voice-over narration and interviews with scientists
but also in recurring inserts of excerpts from Hurleys South. The exclusive focus of
Herzogs film on the research and other activities of McMurdo residents, not unlike
the restricted focus of Jacquets penguin film on the surroundings of the French
base of Dumont dUrville, implicitly replicate in a new guise the foregoing plain
nationalistic British composition of the films documenting Scotts and Shackletons
Antarctic expeditions. Not unlike Pontings films silent intertitles and subsequent
voice narration, Herzog both describes and adds insight into his images through a
self-aware personal voice-over, which also like his forerunner Antarctic filmmakers
commentary fluctuates between mundane description and transcendental reflection.
Yet Herzogs narration of nature in Encounters at the End of the World has been
interpreted as an ironic counter-narrative to the didacticism of environmental films
(Steingrver 2012: 466). As Reinhild Steingrver (ibid: 467) indicates, Herzog
likes to describe his approach to documenting nature as mapping inner landscapes
onto external geographies. Yet, seemingly mesmerised by the transcendental visual
and musical style of some its own scenes, especially those depicting Antarcticas
frozen landscapes and submarine world, Herzogs film fails to address the historical
and geopolitical background to the building of Antarctic stations that allow the
permanent presence of hundreds of humans from various nations, all of which have
formal international claims to national sovereignty over different sections of the
frozen continent.


Heading south, screening the South

Recent digital variations in Antarctic filmmaking have seen school children and other
young amateur scientists from southernmost countries engage in exploratory research
trips to the frozen continent, while producing short digital video documentaries about
their experiences. Although still embedded in the discourses of national sovereignty
and Western science of former Antarctic film depictions, these young peoples digital
documentaries bring to the genre alternative perspectives that begin to redress the
balance on Antarctic territorial imaginaries through elements of what Juan Francisco
Salazar and Elias Barticevic call media democracy and citizens science in the
first contribution to this anthology. Digital Storytelling Antarctica is in fact the
only article of the collections first section: Southernmost Digital Screens. In their
article, Salazar and Barticevic discuss their pioneering work with groups of Chilean
high school students who were asked to create short pieces of digital storytelling and
video documentation based on educational visits to Antarctica in 2012 and 2013.
Their project likely the only digital storytelling venture entirely conducted in
Antarctica so far seeks to create the conditions for the emergence of new ways to
imagine Antarctica from the South. Their aim is to stimulate a process of cultural
and epistemological decolonisation by contesting hegemonic (Western, northern,
imperial) representations of the Antarctic continent that construct it as hostile,
distant, and traversed by a radical alterity. Without rejecting the global emphasis on
environmental and scientific interests involved in current thought about Antarctica,
Salazar and Barticevics project seeks to shift the ways Antarctic narratives are
produced to allow for [the] voices [of] ordinary citizens and young people from
southern countries to emerge. The Chilean students digital visual narratives, as
Salazar and Barticevic discuss, reflect a sense of geographical, cultural and affective
proximity to Antarctica. This perception, they add, has the potential to encourage the
construction of new Antarctic social imaginaries by younger generations in Southern
Ocean rim countries. Furthermore, while this and other similar Antarctic projects
taking place in recent years are institutionally framed within the mandate of the state
to national interest, the students narratives tend to resist propaganda models and
top-down discourses of sovereignty. Thus, emerging from post-conflict societies
undergoing internal reconciliatory processes, the students projects illustrate notions
of media and science democracy and encourage intercultural Antarctic dialogue in
the Southern Ocean rim. In fact, school children in Argentina and Chile, for example,
continue to study maps of their national geography that include an in-box with what is
presented as their countrys sovereign Antarctic territory. With slight variations in
longitude, both the Argentinean and Chilean maps show the full Antarctic Peninsula
as included within their own national territories; respectively calling the frozen cape
Tierra de San Martin and Tierra de OHiggins (whereby Jos de San Martin and


Antonio J. Traverso

Bernardo OHiggins are held, respectively, as Argentinas and Chiles principal

national forefathers). It is likely that the epistemological transformation regarding
Antarctic social imaginaries encouraged by Salazar and Barticevics project of
visual, digital storytelling will challenge these long-held, conflict-laden nationalist
geopolitics, rather calling for a novel inter-cultural, trans-national conception of
Antarctic sovereignty based on collaboration and mutual understanding among
Southern Ocean rim countries.
The second section of this collection is entitled Southern National Screens and
includes four articles that discuss aspects of the national cinemas of Chile, New
Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina. In Uneasy social and psychological
landscapes in the cinemas of Chile and New Zealand, Walescka Pino-Ojeda performs
a comparative textual analysis of the films In My Fathers Den (Brad McGann, New
Zealand, 2004) and B-Happy (Gonzalo Justiniano, Chile, 2003). Pino-Ojeda proposes
these films as examples of two Southern Pacific national cinemas that in recent
years have given increasing attention to the narrative examination of 21st-century
anxieties regarding personal and national identity. Pino-Ojedas analysis shows
that both McGann and Justinianos films focus on the lives of lower-middle class
adolescent girls who reside in semi-rural areas, living in a state of unease due to the
difficulties they confront in finding social and familial protection, which drives them
to yearn and search for alternative geographical, cultural and affective landscapes.
Thus, with no apparent association between them during production, and made only
one year apart, both films address very similar themes and problematics through
melodrama and naturalism: the gendered passage from adolescence to adulthood,
the opposition between rural and urban imaginaries, socio-economic exclusion
and displacement, intra-family neglect and abuse, psychological angst and anxiety,
and the relationship of individuals with their natural surroundings. To support her
claims about these films and the national cinemas from which they emerge, PinoOjeda looks at the history of social identity formation processes in these countries,
drawing a distinction, well-established in historical studies, between Europes
colonisation of Africa, Latin America and Southern Asia and the specifically British
model of colonies of settlement applied in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. As
a result of this history, adds Pino-Ojeda, New Zealands modern sense of national
identity is not the outcome of internal processes of social change, as it is in Chile,
but of the economic and cultural relations maintained with Great Britain until
1973 [when this nation] joined the European Common Market, displacing previous
economic relations with New Zealand. Chile, on the other hand, has been governed
by an elite of European background, whose foundational cultural referents have been
Europe and the US, and who have appropriated specific Indigenous cultural motifs
and used them to symbolise their own sense as a modern nation, while annihilating
the Indigenous social and cultural structure. The year 1973 is a decisive historical


Heading south, screening the South

moment for Chile, as it saw the historical elites socio-economic order, temporarily
threatened by progressive social change, brutally reinstated by the military via a
model of state terrorism. In consequence, Pino-Ojeda argues, in New Zealands
cinema anxieties about identity manifest through a sense of displacement that
before 1973 was expressed as longing and admiration for the Mori ways of life
with respect to nature and community, but which [since 1973] was conveyed as
fear about the legitimacy of the Pkeh nation project. In many New Zealand films,
Pino-Ojeda points out, this dislocated and anxious sense of cultural identity is often
conveyed through borderline Pkeh (European descent) characters, who display
inconsistent social behaviours and for whom travel, rather than an impassioned
quest for the new, is often an escape from a suffocatingly dull quotidian reality.
Conversely, a process of cultural decolonisation, says Pino-Ojeda, roughly started
in the 1950s and common to the whole of Latin America, continues in Chile today
in reaction to exploitative neocolonial and multinational intrusion as well as obvert
political and ideological oppression. This process has manifested in widespread
counter-hegemonic political and cultural activity. Chiles national cinema has, like
the cinema of New Zealand, consistently examined the anxieties and dislocations of
identity as this process responds to colonial social dynamics. However, Chilean films
have narrated the personal and social lives of characters damaged by and struggling
against oppressive social and political power structures. As Pino-Ojeda claims, the
two films she discusses explore the ways in which hopelessness, fear, and affective
and material want, parental neglect and abuse shape the lives of adolescent girls
in the 21st century. She argues that these features are the outcome of the sociocultural landscapes these characters inhabit. While in In my Fathers Den it is the
insular and detached matrix of British culture that serves as the primary source of the
characters dislocation, B-Happys characters are figured more decisively in relation
to Chiles colonial and neocolonial history and social structure.
In Apocalypse Australis: eschatology on southern screens, Mick Broderick
reviews a broad spectrum of Australian narrative films from 1900 to 2013. In his
appraisal of Australian cinema across the 20th and 21st centuries, he considers in
particular the recurrence of apocalyptic narratives, the spectre of nuclear war, the
ghosts of genocide and the geographical histories of southern catastrophe, cataclysm
and survival. In discussing what he calls narratives of finitude in Australian cinema,
he critically examines the erasure at times complete absence, at times half presence
of Indigenous characters and the concurrent exploitation of Aboriginal dreamtime
creation myths in apocalyptic films by non-Indigenous directors. According to
Broderick, the persistence of the apocalyptic theme in Australian narrative and cinema
may be traced all the way back to end-of-the-world Western European myths about
the unexplored southern hemisphere that preceded the exploration and settlement of
Terra Australis. In fact, as Broderick argues, the Wests apocalyptic imaginary has


Antonio J. Traverso

constituted one of the ideological foundations of the European voyages of discovery

and the often corresponding acts of genocidal appropriation and negation, from
the British doctrine of terra nullius to contemporary post-colonial geopolitics. In
consequence, Broderick asks: How has this underlying apocalyptic and millenarian
rhetoric informed Australian cinemas explorations of eschaton over the decades?
Through analyses of several antipodean apocalyptic screen narratives, from
Soldiers of the Cross (1900) an anxious fin-de-sicle warning about moral and
social disintegration to These Final Hours (2014) a trite rendering of end-ofdays angst, orgiastic partying, paedophilic threat and wavering heroics Broderick
reminds us of Susan Sontags precept that disaster and cinema go hand in hand.
Therefore, between Soldiers of the Cross and These Final Hours, he also discusses
southern cinematic Armageddons in the films On the Beach (1959), The Last Wave
(1977), One Night Stand (1984), Mad Max IIII (197985) and The Nostradamus
Kid (1992). Australia, points out Broderick, has a long history in the Western
cultural imaginary of seemingly contradictory apocalyptic attractions. These are
still evident in the tropes of contemporary cinema in Australia. Yet, he stresses,
Indigenous Australian epistemologies are frequently invisible or unaccounted for in
whitefellas eschatological dreaming on screen.
Nyasha Mboti and Keyan Tomasellis article, New political economies of film
distribution for South Africas townships? A critical survey of the ReaGil concept,
discusses John Eschenburgs novel proposal for an autonomous Nollywood-like,
grass-roots model of local cinema exhibition and distribution in contemporary
South Africa. In their assessment of the socio-historical context from which this
initiative emerged, Mboti and Tomaselli explain that despite this African nations
top film industry infrastructure, local filmmaking and film culture are both vastly
state-dependent and under-serviced. At the same time, the lack of access to effective
film distribution channels for local production is a lingering restriction for South
African cinema. Significantly, Mboti and Tomasellis evaluation of this state of
affairs is that distribution/exhibition practices in the post-apartheid era perpetuate
the inequities of the apartheid political economy. In this context, local, lowbudget, independent films are simply expected to remain on the periphery of the busy
schedule of mainstream international productions. Thus, where the apartheid system
used to divide cinema viewing according to types of racialised publics, in postapartheid South Africa, low-budget local films have been framed by state cultural
policy as separate from the mainstream industry, in so far as they are perceived as
targeting a broader demographic as audience. However, in Mboti and Tomasellis
words, this broader demographic is a euphemism for the unemployed, underemployed and employed black working-class masses, who largely live in large
towns, sometimes adjacent to, but more often separated at considerable distances
from, places of employment in the cities. The authors are particularly critical of


Heading south, screening the South

state-sponsored initiatives to foster film culture in South Africa because, as they

point out, these top-down approaches do not empower the communities into
which they are parachuted. As a result, South Africas new state, having failed in
many respects to provide due leadership, now, like the latter-day experience of the
apartheid state, is increasingly finding itself cautioned, questioned and replaced by
NGO and civil society sectors. ReaGil (We have built), is a project that involves
installing prefabricated educational-entertainment centres comprising community
care, Internet access and film screening facilities, in peripheral areas which are
largely deprived of access to screen culture and general leisure. Conceived as a
sustainable, self-sufficient, cultural micro-industry model, the notion of ReaGil
has the potential to revolutionise exhibition and distribution in local film industries
by boosting locally owned cultural micro-economies, and by maximising job and
skill-building potential among endemically unemployed black South Africans. In
addition, stress Mboti and Tomaselli, ReaGil offers significant cultural benefits as
it counters the crisis of representation in African screen culture that is the effect
of the long-standing dominance of global cinema distribution networks, thus
restoring agency to the disenfranchised, micro-budget filmmaker from South
African townships. Yet, even though ReaGils philosophy was to re-build South
African publics and communities that were fragmented by apartheid, in the period
between Eschenburgs launch of the project in 2009 and his tragic, untimely death
in 2014, this potentially self-financing and sustainable job creation innovation
[was] systematically delayed, stalled and choked out of existence by a structure
of bureaucracy and red tape that is rife in South African public institutions. As they
persuasively argue in this article, the project of a South African national cinema
will not be feasible as long as the unemployed and underemployed black majority
remains economically disenfranchised, geographically remote, spatially segregated
and class differentiated.36
In Memory and childhood in the melodrama of the Malvinas War: The Children
Who Write on the Sky, Mirta Varela offers an analysis of the Argentine television
drama Los nios que escriben en el cielo (The Children Who Write on the Sky, 2010),
directed by Adrin Caetano. The films narrative is set during the period commonly
known as the last Argentine dictatorship, and more precisely during the brief war
between Argentina and England over the Malvinas (Falklands) Islands in 1982.
The tragic legacy of the military dictatorship (19761983), a period during which
Argentinas armed forces, after seizing power via a violent coup, tortured, executed
and disappeared tens of thousands of civilians, was the focus of Luis Puenzos
film La historia oficial/The Official Story (1985). Puenzos film received the 1986
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film due to its poignant fictionalisation
of one of the most disturbing atrocities of the Argentine dictatorship: children born
in custody to tortured and executed political prisoners are then reared as their own


Antonio J. Traverso

by families of members of the security forces. Between Puenzos film and Benjamn
Avilas Infancia clandestina/Clandestine Childhood (2012), a recent fiction film
co-produced by Puenzo that narrates Avilas own experiences as the young son of
members of the urban guerrilla group Montoneros during the early stages of the
dictatorship, cinema in Argentina experienced a Renaissance that has been fittingly
called the New Argentine Cinema.37 Even though a broad diversity of interests have
motivated new Argentine directors, attention given to the dictatorship theme has
not waned since Puenzos award-winning film. In her analysis of Caetanos film of
2010, Varela discusses the relationship between memory and childhood; the generic
hybridisation common to historical film texts that embed archival documentary
footage within the diegesis; and the recent shift from social to political themes and
emphases in Argentine television melodrama. Argentine fiction films that focus on
the Malvinas War, explains Varela, more often than not take on as their narrations
perspective the memory of school childrens experiences during that period. In this
way, the ubiquitous, quotidian presence of the war and the military in civil society
rather than as extraordinary is presented as the continuity of childhood games and
school rituals. This cinematic focus on the confined world of children, who both
perceive and adapt to the ambivalence, deceit and authoritarianism of the adults, acts
as a critical reminder of Argentine civil societys collusion with the dictatorship. It
was the disaster of the Malvinas War that contributed to the disclosure and collapse
of the dictatorships foundations, namely, repression, deception and the complicity
of civil society. In Caetanos film the Malvinas War, which operates as a signifier of
both late 20th-century European imperialism and Argentinas long-held sovereignty
claim within the geopolitics of the Southern Cone, is a pivotal event that sends the
nationalist allegiances of Argentineans into a deep crisis. Indeed, the film shows an
excerpt of archival documentary footage with a political banner that reads: Malvinas
yes, dictatorship no. As Varelas analysis illustrates, this image raises the question
of whether [Argentine] civil society can be interpreted as either a passive victim or
an active collaborator of the military during the war and, to a certain extent, during
the entire dictatorship.
The collections final section, called Southern Film Auteurs, includes three articles
that focus on one or more films by directors who implicitly or overtly identify with
the project of the global South and who also imprint their work with a distinctive
personal mark. In The craft of killing: trophy bodies and atrocity aesthetics,
Suvendrini Perera discusses Joshua Oppenheimer and Anonymous highly praised
documentary The Act of Killing (2012).38 This film is a poignant exploration of the
legacy of the 1965 massacre of actual and suspected communists in northern Sumatra,
Indonesia, which took place at the time of the US and Australia-backed military coup
with which General Suharto overthrew the anti-colonial government of President
Sukarno.39 Oppenheimers documentary adopts a film-within-a-film structure,


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whereby the imagined film within, writes Perera, is a sinister fantasia conceived,
directed and performed by former torturers and killers whom Oppenheimer asked
not only to recount, but also to restage for the camera, the murders they performed
over half a century ago. As Perera points out, while Oppenheimers film lays bare
the fact that contemporary Indonesia is predicated on affirming, not denying, the
founding violence of its New Order, its interest is not so much to depict the terror
of the Indonesian genocide as it is to examine how that terror is perceived and
reproduced in the films present. Indeed, as the men disturbingly rejoice on screen at
their excruciating reenactments of torture and murder, the film lets us know that they
are proud, prominent constituents of contemporary Indonesian society, enjoying
widespread public endorsement and respect. However, rather than concentrating
purely on film textual analysis, Perera seeks to situate the analysis of Oppenheimers
documentary against a broader discussion of the visual aesthetics, technologies and
geopolitics of atrocity, giving attention to transnational and trans-historical links
between 1960s Indonesia and other interconnected geopolitical contexts (such as
the US military and political interventions of South East Asia, Africa and South
America, the Western worlds war on terror, and contemporary Iraq). In so doing, she
seeks to map a modern visual history of power, atrocity and killer images (Brink
and Oppenheimer 2012) in which the principal mise en scne of political violence
is precisely the trophy body. Although torture has always been a transnational
practice, linked in particular to colonialism and imperial and neo-imperial war,
writes Perera, it is in the careful staging of its abject and impounded status [that]
the trophy body is the figure of a dense meshing of histories, relations, practices,
aesthetics and technologies. In this sense, Perera suggests that the purpose of The
Act of Killing, rather than to show the terror of the 1965 massacre, is to intervene in
Indonesias dominant ways of seeing according to which the violence of the past has
been normalised into the foundational discourse of nation of the present.
In Reading across cultures towards a comparative documentary film studies:
Eduardo Coutinhos documentary Jogo de Cena (2007), Deane Williams and Sarah
McDonald consider the question of a comparative, intercultural study of documentary
cinema spectatorship through the examination of a film by the late Eduardo Coutinho
(19332014), allegedly Brazils greatest documentary director. As Williams and
McDonald put it, Coutinhos Jogo de Cena is, at once, a straightforward document of
a set of stories belonging to women in contemporary Brazil, as well as a sophisticated
essaying of personality and performance in relation to specific and vernacular geocultural knowledge. To assist their analysis, the authors apply Paul Willemens
theorisation of a comparative film studies, hoping, as they say, to begin a closer
consideration of what is possible with a combination of Brazilian cultural knowledge
and documentary film theory. Williams and McDonald refer their discussion here
to an idea Willemen put forward in 1995 involving the adaptation of an existing


Antonio J. Traverso

literary studies paradigm to articulate a new comparative film studies. The purpose
of Willemens comparative study of cinema across cultures was to understand how
social processes are constructed discursively, for example, how different cinemas
embody the way their specific society engages with capitalist social structure. Thus,
the authors stress the need to give considered thought to the vernacular intricacies
of cultures in intercultural documentary viewing. This precision, they say, may help
identify the dialectic between estranged and localised approaches, and so contribute
to our understanding of the sheer diversity of the images and sounds of the lived,
historical world. A central precept for Willemens proposed comparative study of
the worlds cinema is the matching of foreign form to local social experience.
Therefore, key to Willemens understanding of this comparative methodology is a
clear sense of recognition of ones own otherness in relation to another culture.
Coutinhos documentary, according to Williams and McDonalds analysis, contains
numerous culturally specific and localised references amongst the stories told by a
cast of women actors. The resulting effect of our screen engagement with this array
of womens stories is that it grants us access to a densely layered tapestry of forms
of production of cultural knowledge, thus constituting a filmic experience that is
multivalent and complex. Therefore, [t]he reading of this nuanced level of layering
becomes dependent on both contextual and cultural knowledge [and so] it is the
development of cultural literacy that allows one to translate the experiences of others
and place them within a nuanced context that enriches the reception/reading of the
documentary film.
In A little fiction: person, time and dimension in Ral Ruizs figural cinema,
Adrian Martin reflects on the cinematic oeuvre of Chilean auteur Ral Ruiz,
whose untimely death to cancer at age 70 in 2011 cut short the most mature, and
indeed promising, stage of his over-prolific creative career. As the director himself
sometimes conveyed in interviews, it is challenging to try to tell with exactitude how
many screen works Ruiz produced since he started his filmmaking career in Chile in
the 1960s.40 However, rough estimations often put it in approximately 90 features and
30 short films, including works on celluloid of various gauges and lengths, analogue
and digital video, and television. Ruiz was also an accomplished writer, with several
published titles to his name, including his film testament: the two books of his Poetics
of cinema (Ruiz 2005, 2007). Ruiz was born in the city of Puerto Montt, southern
Chile, in 1941, and then grew up on nearby Chilo, a legendary Chilean island whose
inward culture provided him with an endless source of mythological visual and
narrative references. A true man of the South, Ruiz proposed in a conversation with
Adrian Martin during a visit to Australia the definition of a new zone in the world
[] he imagined a cinematic project that would move across Chiles and Australias
histories and cultures (Martin and Pinto 2008).41 In the present article, which was
described by an anonymous reviewer as the best essay I have read in many years


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on Ruizs cinema, Martin considers a fair number of Ruizs titles, from low-budget
film and television experiments of the 1970s and 1980s, when as an exile of the
Chilean dictatorship he lived and worked in Europe, to his final, more expensive
and accomplished work,such as Time Regained (1999), Mysteries of Lisbon (2010)
and his posthumous Night Across the Street(2012). Martin explains that an enduring
feature of Ruizs work is his use of more than one actor to play the same character at
different stages of his life, and surprisingly his inclusion of them together in the same
shot. This unusual approach, argues Martin, can be explained through Ruizs unique
conception of character, memory and time. This distinctive quality of Ruizs cinema
forms a figural ensemble: the propensity for his characters to talk to themselves.
And Martin actually means literally that they encounter themselves in another body,
and proceed to have a conversation. Thus, Martin contends that the paradox of a
time that becomes space is among the keys to Ruiz. Adrian Martin is one of the
worlds leading experts on Ruiz, and he is largely responsible for introducing Ruiz
and his work to Australia through university teaching, seminars, film retrospectives,
interviews and publications (Bandis, Martin and McDonald 2004; Martin 1993).
Most significantly, Martin has also co-authored a Spanish-language book on Ruiz
with Ruiz himself (Martin and Ruiz 2004). The present article, which closes this
collection, constitutes a significant further contribution to Ral Ruiz scholarship.42

1 My translation from Spanish; my selection of excerpts from Benedettis poem.
2 My translation from Spanish; my emphasis.
3 My translation from Spanish.
4 Emphasis in the original.
5 See Bazzana 2003 (free online access as e-Book) and the Glenn Gould Foundation
6 I transcribed the text from an audio excerpt of The Idea of North. See CBC Digital
7 The map remains, along with toy koalas and kangaroos, a familiar Australiana
souvenir; according to online commercial sources, it has sold over 300000 copies (see ODT
8 A standard one-paragraph biographical narrative about how McArthur came to
produce and publish his upside-down map is recurrent throughout online commercial
outlets. One such source is ODT Maps, which includes a small picture of McArthurs map
and essential information about it, as well as other versions of maps with the south up, such
as the Van der Grinten projection map Whats Up? South! and a Hobo-Dyer projection map
that presents Africa in the centre (see webpage in note 7).
9 Emphasis in the original; for the full McArthur caption, see webpage in note 7. The
extent to which McArthurs declaration may mock Maurice Gombergs Post-war new world
map and New world moral order manifesto (published in the US in February 1942) is


Antonio J. Traverso
perhaps unknowable; however, the similarity of the approach a self-published world map
with a world order manifesto is striking, to say the least.
10 As cited by Whyte; for this letter and other of Wakefields writings, see Wakefield
11 The vanishing of bodies in the literature and cinema of Australia strongly echoes in
the screen culture of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uruguay,
and many other nations, where political rather than gothic causes explain the proliferation of
the figures of the disappeared as well as the flickering shadows of the living who still search
after them.
12 Emphasis in the original.
13 The direct quotations in this paragraph are all from Santos (2012a: 16). They
correspond to the transcription of a public address given by Santos in 2011, and published in
Spain in 2012; my translation from Spanish.
14 Also see Santos (2007, 2014).
15 Hereafter referred to as US South.
16 Also see an earlier edited collection; Humphreys (1990).
17 The depth of the reflection in the field of studies of Southern literature is testified
to not only by the abundant literature in the form of scholarly monographs and edited
collections, but also by the ongoing existence of many academic journals. Two of these
are The Southern Literary Journal (first issue in 1967) and Southern Cultures (first issue
in 1993), both published by the University of North Carolina Press and dedicated to the
academic discussion of, respectively, literary texts and broader cultural expression from the
South of the US.
18 On alternative sexualities in Southern literature, see Richards (2007), Bibler (2009);
in Southern cinema, see Brasell (2011).
19 The debate regarding the relationship that the works of Mark Twain and Nobel
laureate William Faulkner sustain with racist ideology is vigorous and has been ongoing for
more than half a century in Southern literary criticism. Rather than adding to the indictment
of Twain, Sandra Gunning offers a nuanced textual case study of the way his text engaged
with and was conditioned by the very white supremacist discourses he was, according to
Gunning, challenging; see chapter 2 in Gunning (1996). For discussions of Faulkners work
in regard to race, gender and sexuality, see Stringer (2010); Oklopcic (2014).
20 Also see Langman and Ebner (2001).
21 In this passage French cites Chappell (1978), an analysis of the US Souths image
in film.
22 Also see Terri Smith Ruckels PhD thesis (2006), and Cohns course outline on
Faulkner and Spanish American narrative (2015).
23 DArcy (2007) is an excerpt of a longer piece published in the April 2006 issue
of the UK art magazine Modern Painters:
24 Walker has had regular solo and group exhibitions since the mid-1990s in the
US and around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim and the
Whitney, with some of her pieces now permanently held in key collections.


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25 The genius reference corresponds to Walkers receiving a MacArthur fellowship
(also known as Genius Grant) in 1997.
26 The critical literature on Kara Walker is copious. For an edition that combines
images of Walkers art, critical essays and the transcription of a conversation with the artist,
see Dixon (2002); this book was published with the exhibition Kara Walker: An Abbreviated
Emancipation (From the Emancipation Approximation), presented at the University of
Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MarchMay 2002. For a critical discussion of the
controversy generated by Walkers art, see Wall (2010).
27 Both his parents, Sydney Kentridge and Felicia Geffen, practised law and
represented apartheid victims.
28 Also see Cameron, Coetzee and Christov-Bakargiev (1999); Sollins and Atlas
(2010) (film).
29 The films principal feature is the visually arresting Antarctic footage that Ponting
shot during the expedition, in addition to the views of Scotts party on everyday activities,
starting with the ocean trip on the ship Terra Nova from New Zealand to Antarctica and
ending with preparations for the final walk to the South Pole. To this silent footage Ponting
progressively added intertitles, still pictures, time-lapse animation in cartographic sequences,
voice-over narration, music, and an on-camera introduction by Edward Evans, who had been
second-in-command in Scotts expedition, and himself. In the films introduction Evans
explains that Ponting shot the film under dire climatic conditions, barely managing the
development process by melting ice in a small, darkened polar hut (Ponting 1933). Pontings
film masters are held and owned by the BFIs National Film and Television Archive.
30 Emphasis in the original.
31 While Antarctica may be too hostile an environment to allow for human inhabitation,
Pontings text too resolutely avoids considering the possibility of earlier human exploration
by the sea-wise peoples of Patagonia, and the conditions for the well-adapted sea and land life
of the penguins and seals registered on his film. These questions are respectively addressed in
Guzmns (2015) and Herzogs (2009) films.
32 While discussions of national territorial claims over the Antarctic continent have
been postponed, the UK, like the US and several other nations, have maintained their claims
to sovereignty through the ongoing presence of scientific and technological research teams in
Antarctica; see, for example, the Scott Polar Research Institute:
33 See Scott (1964).
34 Dixon (2015) explains that Scott and Ponting had sold the rights to the footage and
photographs to the film company Gaumont, who contributed to the expeditions costs solidly;
and that before Ponting could buy back his films rights they had already released it for public
viewing, in installments and under different titles, in 1911, 1912 and 1913. These historical
facts strongly suggest a commercial rather than scientific motivation for producing the film.
35 Also see Butler (2000).
36 See interview with Nyasha Mboti regarding the ReaGil project (Mboti and Smart
Monkey TV 2014).
37 See Andermann (2012); Andermann and Fernndez Bravo (2013).
38 Although Oppenheimer is a US citizen and the film was largely funded with US
and European money, the participation of an anonymous Indonesian co-director and the


Antonio J. Traverso
productions extra-filmic position as a catalyst of awareness and activism regarding the
Indonesian genocide mean that the film and its auteurs qualify as of the global South.
39 More recently, Oppenheimer and Anonymous made a companion film to The
Act of Killing, the equally lauded The Look of Silence (2014), in which an Indonesian man
confronts on camera the murderers of his brother, whom they gruesomely killed during the
1965 genocide. See
40 Often listed as the earliest of Ruizs works are: La maleta (1963), El retorno
(1964), El tango del viudo (1967), and his first feature length film Tres tristes tigres (1968).
In addition, the Chilean film historian Alicia Vega lists two short films directed by Ruiz in her
comprehensive chronology of Chilean documentary: La catenaria (1969) and Militarismo y
tortura (1969) (Vega 2006: 257259). Considering Vegas description of these two films, they
are actually hardly classifiable as documentary. They consist, in a most Ruizian fashion, of
playful formal experimentations with film structure, strongly reminiscent of the Structuralist
films thriving in New York around that time.
41 My translation from Spanish.
42 The critical literature on Ruizs cinema is copious and continues to grow. For a
comprehensive bibliographic list on and by Ruiz, including Spanish, French and English
titles, see

Andermann, J. 2012. New Argentine cinema. London: I.B. Tauris.
Andermann, J. and A. Fernndez Bravo, eds. 2013. New Argentine and Brazilian cinema:
reality effects. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Bandis, H., A. Martin and G. McDonald, eds. 2004. Ral Ruiz: images of passage. Melbourne:
Rouge Press and Rotterdam: International Film Festival of Rotterdam.
Barker, D. and K. McKee, eds. 2011. American cinema and the southern imaginary. Athens,
Ga. and London: University of Georgia Press.
Barrera, T. 2000. El Sur tambin existe: Mario Benedetti poeta. In Mario Benedetti: inventario
cmplice, ed. C. Alemany, R. Mataix and J. Carlos Rovira. Alicante: Universidad de
Alicante/Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes. E-Book: http://www.cervantesvirtual.
Bazzana, K. 2003. Wondrous strange: the life and art of Glenn Gould. Toronto: McClelland
& Stewart.
Benedetti, M. 2000. Inventario dos: poesa completa 19861991. Buenos Aires: Editorial
Berland, J. 2009. North of empire: essays on the cultural technologies of space. Durham and
London: Duke University Press.
Bibler, M.P. 2009. Cottons queer relations: same-sex intimacy and the literature of the
southern plantation, 19361968. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.
Brasell, R.B. 2011. Humid time: independent film, gay sexualities, and southernscapes. In
American cinema and the southern imaginary, ed. D. Barker and K. McKee, 293316.
Athens, Ga. and London: University of Georgia Press.


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Brink, T. and J. Oppenheimer, eds. 2012. Killer images: documentary film, memory and the
performance of violence. London and New York: Wallflower Press.
Cameron D., J.M. Coetzee and C. Christov-Bakargiev. 1999. William Kentridge. London:
Campbell, E.D.C., Jr. 1981. The celluloid south: Hollywood and the southern myth. Knoxville:
University of Tennessee Press.
Chappell, F. 1978. The image of the south in film. Southern Humanities Review 12(Fall):
Cohn, D. 1999. History and memory in the two souths: recent southern and Spanish American
fiction. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.
Cohn, D. 2015. Teaching Faulkner and the Spanish American novel. Center for Faulkner
Studies, Southeast Missouri State University.
html (accessed 15 October 2015).
Connell, R. 2007. Southern theory: the global dynamics of knowledge in social science.
London and New York: Polity Press.
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