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(Re)animating history : animated documentaries in contemporary Hispanic cinema Nagtegaal, Jennifer

Abstract

Animation for adult audiences is a booming sector in Hispanic cinema in both fiction and non-fiction films alike. This is particularly true of the documentary genre, in which Spanish and Latin American filmmakers are employing various animation techniques to essentially (re)animate particularly traumatic periods of history. That is to say, they do the work of reconstructing or re-creating history through the cinematic practice of animation. Jairo Carrillo and Oscar Andrade’s Pequeñas voces (Colombia, 2010), María Seaone’s Eva de la Argentina (Argentina, 2011), and Manuel H. Martín’s 30 años de oscuridad (Spain, 2012) do this work of reconstructing periods of political unrest through a blending of animation and archival materials. The recent turn to animation in recounting historical narratives leads us to contemplate the purpose and effect of veering away from conventional live-action portrayals in documentary history. Accordingly, our first research question asks why and how animation is effective as a representational strategy in the re-telling of the historical moments and subjects that the films in our corpus depict. To answer this first research question, we consider the three functions of animation proposed by leading animated documentary scholar Annabelle Honess Roe (2013): non-mimetic substitution, mimetic substitution, and evocation. Beyond being linked by their exemplification of Roe’s three functions of animation, the films in our corpus all have a relationship to the uncanny that arises directly from the juxtaposition of the animated and the audiovisual archival elements. Animated film scholarship has begun to draw connections between Sigmund Freud’s (1919) notion of the ‘uncanny’ and films that combine animation and the archival. Accordingly, our second research question asks: in what ways does the ‘uncanny’ animated aesthetic in these three films manifest itself, and to what end?

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