Argentinian Nitrate, An Early Cinema History

< Program < PANEL NO. 5: Early Latin American Cinema

Early cinema in Argentina had a slightly different development than those of North American or European countries. It could be said that it had something to do with the worldwide position in which Argentina was placed during the first years of the 20th century as an agricultural and livestock supplier of raw materials for European markets. This economic dependency was also cultural and it shaped our artistic discourses. In film, the first production companies emerged from precarious laboratories initially installed to shoot the Spanish-language intertitles for foreign feature films. This technical origin would soon become the sustenance of most early film production: Glücksmann, Gallo, Valle and Martinez-De la Pera would base their survival on laboratory labors, distribution of films of other companies and production of alternative genres to feature films such as institutional, actualities and scientific cinema. In the absence of a stable industry, technicians concentrated as cinematografistas: cameramen, laboratory workers, projectionist, all in one. At the same time, the permanence of early film technologies promoted the continuity of practices and records of certain visual motifs for longer periods than in hegemonic countries. Nonetheless, this semi-crafted/pre-industrial means did not supposed a lower quality in film production. On the contrary, it brought to light very curious and creative forms as response to technical and economic precariousness that actually settled the basis of what will then become a regular trait in the history of moving images in our country.

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Carolina Cappa (Independent)

Carolina Cappa is an audiovisual archivist and media professor. She has just published Nitrato argentino, una historia del cine de los primeros tiempos (Argentine nitrate, an early cinema history), an illustrated catalogue and a compilation of essays as well as an open access web site,, both on the research of the nitrate film collection preserved at the Museo del Cine “Pablo Ducrós Hicken” in Buenos Aires. She has worked for the past 11 years at the Museo del Cine as a film preservation specialist. She was also head of the Cinemateca Boliviana film archive in La Paz, Bolivia, where she restored El Bolillo Fatal, a previously lost 1927 Bolivian film. She’s been a professor and researcher at the Universidad de Buenos Aires as well as other Argentinian and international institutions. She now lives in Santiago de Compostela, Spain and works as a professor and a tutor at the Elias Querejeta Zine Eskola in San Sebastian.