Gabriela Zamorano Villarreal – Politics of Distribution: Building Audiences for Bolivian Indigenous Films
Event Date 23 November 2012
The Court Room, Senate House
University of London
London WC1E 7HU
‘Indigeneity in the Contemporary World’ Project presents:
Recasting Commodity and Spectacle in the Indigenous Americas symposium, 22-23 November 2012
Professor Gabriela Zamorano Villarreal (Colegio de Michoacán, Mexico) - Politics of Distribution: Building Audiences for Bolivian Indigenous Films
In this paper I analyse film distribution strategies undertaken by the most important indigenous media initiative of Bolivia, the National Plan of Indigenous Audiovisual Communication (Plan Nacional Indígena Originario de Comunicación Audiovisual). Through ethnographic case studies, I explain how the Plan Nacional reaches rural, urban, national and international audiences while building or reinforcing political alliances with activists, migrants and other indigenous communities and organizations. In these locations, I look at the technological possibilities of video for presenting what Benjamin (1968) would explain as ‘simultaneous collective experiences’, as well as the different economic and political contexts and conditions for video distribution. I also discuss the tensions involved in the distribution process, such as the prevention of piracy, unresolved attempts to distribute economic benefits, commitment to expectations of funding providers, and the election of technological and narrative elements to meet specific industry standards that in many ways ‘discipline’ the production and distribution processes. An analysis of these issues is useful for understanding how filmmakers’ attempts to challenge established markets of audiovisual production and to prevent their films from circulating as commodities are often limited by their inevitable immersion in a global capitalist system. Finally, I analyse how in such distribution processes, indigenous media makers interact with actors as varied as regional leaders, international activists, film industry people and official authorities; and how, in doing so, they develop mechanisms to make themselves visible by simultaneously emphasizing their national belonging to Bolivia and their difference as indigenous filmmakers.
Gabriela Zamorano Villarreal is researcher and professor at the Centro de Estudios Antropológicos at the Colegio de Michoacán and visiting professor on the MA in Visual Anthropology at FLACSO-Ecuador. Gabriela was born and raised in Mexico City and studied social communication as well as journalism, video and ethnographic photography. In 1993, she began communications projects at a prison, and later worked with Indigenous communities in Chiapas and Oaxaca. In 2009, she received her Ph.D from the City University of New York (CUNY) for a thesis on Indigenous Bolivian video, and during her time in New York she also worked at the Film and Video Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. She conducted postdoctoral research at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris in 2009, and has published widely on visual anthropology, film and photography. Gabriela’s academic work is enriched by her practice as curator of photographic projects and director of personal photographic and video documentary productions.