Prologue to “Panorama del cine iberoamericano”

Each time we talk about Latin American cinema, we can’t help having an uncomfortable, shameful feeling of a bad conscience. If our ignorance of the film production on the other side of the ocean is bad enough, the lack of interest towards it in a country which should show an active proximity, because of sharing both the language and cultural and artistic codes, is worse and obviously regrettable.

When this lack of interest comes from the film industry itself, it can’t but make us feel even more ashamed. A shame that does not go away by going to some showings in festivals, or giving awards when one is lucky enough, or unfortunate enough, to be part of a panel in a festival. Because what is undeniable, and unacceptable in a way, is the fact that there still is a barrier between both film industries that cannot be justified even through the width of the Atlantic ocean itself. This moat that has until now prevented a spiritual relationship as well as commercial agreements to establish a basis to create a great common industry, is a pending problem which we must solve urgently for the future benefit of both parties.

We, Spanish film makers, tend to complain about the shortages of our profession, limited by the low economic investment and the few people who go to see films, without thinking of the millions of would-be spectators that there exist in Latin America and who we, unwittingly, turn our backs on. It is not fair to attack the commercial power of the film industry in the United States, when we could create a great film adventure with enormous coverage if we had at least a minimum will to work together. We only need to get to know each other better, strengthening the ties that bind us, to obtain the perfect collaboration we all strive for, creating production and distribution channels among the different Spanish speaking countries which allow us to make better, richer and more universal films. The excellent book by José Agustín Mahieu, to whom we Spanish film makers owe so many generous works about our cinema, means an important and rigorous step to get nearer that unknown territory from which we can learn so much, and in which we can do so much, until we can offer the great firm of a common nation against that of international firms.

Luis García Berlanga

* Prologue to “Panorama del cine iberoamericano”. José Agustín Mahieu. Ediciones de Cultura Hispánica (Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional), Madrid, 1990.