Gender, Sexuality, Film and Media in Latin America:
Challenging Representation and Structures

Issue Editors: Dr. Kristi M. Wilson and Dr. Clara Garavelli
Latin America is a region of contradictions in terms of gender and sexuality. While the US failed to elect its first female president in 2016, Latin America has seen more female presidents than any other part of the world, starting with Isabel Peron in 1974 and continuing with a boom in female political leaders between 1990 and 2014. While some like anti-Sandinista Violeta Chamorro in Nicaragua in 1990 represented a setback for progressive forces, others symbolized their advance.  Some made women’s rights and gender equality a priority. Chile’s Michelle Bachelet has worked to legalize abortion against strong opposition. Under Cristina Kirchner’s leadership, in 2012 Argentina passed the most progressive gender-identity law in the world, requiring doctors provide free hormone treatments and gender-reassignment surgery and allowing people to change their gender on official documents even without surgery. Since then, many laws to protect LGBTQ communities have been approved throughout the region, such as equal marriage or adoption. However, Latin America is also home to 7 of the 10 countries with the highest rates of femicide and is also one of the most precarious regions in terms of LGBTQ discrimination. Abortion remains illegal in seven countries. Based on these liminal positions, we believe the time is right to explore the contemporary role of women film and video makers as well as the cultural impact of gender and sexuality norms in film and other media.

In the 1960s, films emerged in several Latin American countries as a vital cultural front in struggles against underdevelopment, economic and cultural dependency, and injustice. From the Cinema Novo movement in Brazil, to the Santa Fe School in Argentina, the ICAIC (the Cuban Institute of Film Art and Industry) in Havana, and the nationalized Chile Films under Allende, the 1950s through the 1970s saw not only the spread of cinema as a powerful rhetorical tool of self-expression, identity, and ideology, but wide-scale resistance to the Hollywood imperialist mode of filmmaking and distribution. Latin American filmmakers influenced world cinema not only as creators but as theorists, asserting the need for a Third Cinema (Solanas and Getino), Revolutionary Cinema (Sanjinés) and Imperfect Cinema (García Espinosa.) They also sought to create new modes of production and distribution and to develop ties among filmmakers across the continent. While many leading filmmakers went into exile or were disappeared during the dictatorships in Latin America, the politicized climate of filmmaking they created spread throughout the hemisphere and survives into the current era. While this film movement was initially largely male-dominated, more recently many Latin American countries have seen a proliferation of female directors and perspectives in documentaries, many that examine memory and dictatorship through autobiography, and in feature films that emphasize hitherto under-explored realms of female and queer experience.

In spite of persistent inequality, women and LGBTQ communities have played a crucial, steady role in Latin American activism and resistance movements in the wake of human rights violations committed during the 70s and 80s. Women occupy a wide range of roles in the power structures in contemporary Latin American democracies: as former guerrilla combatants, grassroots organizers, political activists, legislators, high-ranking officials in government agencies, and diplomats. The 1990 – 2014 rise in female administrations in Latin America parallels a rise in media representation of issues related to gender and sexuality, and a rise in female participation in film and video making at all levels of production. This special issue of LAP will look at the many contradictions pertaining to gender, sexuality, access, community, and production in Latin America through a film and media perspective. It will situate the analysis in the current political landscape and conflicts in the region. In many countries this involves neoliberalism and the resulting growth in informal and precarious employment and deepening inequality. In others where governments have resisted neoliberalism, the attempt to achieve greater social and economic justice has engendered intense conflicts.  In all cases, we recognize the impact of the broader social and political context on women and LGBTQ communities and on media production.

Films like Camila (María Luisa Bemberg, 1984), Suzana Amaral’s A hora da estrela (‘The Hour of the Star’, 1986), Lucia Puenzo’s XXY (2007), the films of Albertina Carri, Paz Encina, Natalia Almada, Carmen Castillo, Marilú Mallet and Lucrecia Martel, are just a few examples of ways in which the envelope of New Latin American cinema has been pushed to respond to a wider range of gendered and trans-gender experience in recent decades. ​

Female film and video makers often bring attention to human rights and other issues affecting women and marginalized communities when traditional media outlets fail to cover them. For example, Mexican-American filmmaker, Lourdes Portillo, was brought international attention to the activist struggles of Argentine women searching for their disappeared family members with her award-winning 1985 documentary Las Madres: the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (co-written and directed with Susana Muñoz).  Similarly, Portillo was first on the scene to document the grizzly femicides in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in her 2001 documentary Señorita extraviada (Missing Young Woman), helping to propel a then-local issue into a broader discussion of the alarming rise in femicide and gendered violence in the Americas. Argentine director, Lucrecia Martel has made her mark on the international film community with her fictional dramas about survival, mourning and witnessing in the post-dictatorship years with films like La ciénaga (2001) and La mujer sin cabeza (2008). In addition to her own work on indigenous issues, Chilean Mapuche filmmaker Jeanette Paillán is a founding member of CLACPI, an organization that coordinates and promotes Indigenous video and film material and also heads the biggest Indigenous film festival in South America.

This issue will focus on women as media makers and consider questions related to gender and sexuality in film, video, and other media. Submissions are welcome on topics dealing with representation, political economy, and social activism including, but not limited to:

How have right-wing neoliberal governments in Latin America (with their hegemonic heteronormative agendas) impacted the representation of women, homosexuals, and transgendered persons?

-Have progressive governments changed the conditions for women’s media production and distribution and/or expanded the range of gender representation?

-What are some of the current struggles in the film and media industry in Latin America  over representation of gender and sexuality?

-What are the main issues and challenges in LGBTQ representation?

-How have bodies been used to convey queer identity and desire in Latin American films?

-How do cinema aesthetics affect the way women address gender issues?

-How do women media makers represent motherhood and domesticity?

-How do women media makers use first-person accounts in documentaries about human rights, domestic violence, migration and exile, or other topics?

-How is intersectionality beween gender and other issues and identities (class, race, ethnicity, citizenship status, etc.) reflected in the work of women film and video makers?

-How do women media makers interact with social movements?

-How have women film and other media makers influenced film and media theory?

-What are the current struggles of women film and video makers in terms of women’s marginality and participation in the structures of media production (e.g. funding, hiring, decision-making?)

-How have women organized as media makers both nationally and transnationally?

-Have women developed new models of media production and distribution?

-How have new electronic media affected women’s work in audio-visual media production and distribution?


To avoid duplication of content, please contact the issue editors to let them know of your interest in submitting and your proposed topic. We encourage submission as soon as possible, preferably by Jan. 30, 2018, but this call will remain open as long as it is posted on the LAP web site.

Manuscripts should be no longer than 8,000 words of paginated, double-spaced 12 point text with 1 inch margins, including notes and references, using the LAP Style Guidelines available at under the “Submit” tab where the review process is also described.   Manuscripts should be consistent with the LAP Mission Statement available on the web site under the “About” tab.

Manucripts may be submitted in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. If you do not write in English with near native fluency, please submit in your first language.  LAP will translate manuscripts accepted in languages other than English. If you are not submitting in English, please indicate if you will have difficulty reading reviews and/or correspondence from the LAP office in English.

Please feel free to contact the issue editors with questions pertaining to the issue but all manuscripts should be submitted directly to the LAP office, not to the issue editors. A manuscript is not considered submitted until it has been received by the LAP office.  You should receive acknowledgment of receipt of your manuscript within a few days.  If you do not receive an acknowledgment from LAP after one week, please send a follow-up inquiry to be sure your submission arrived.

E-mail Submissions: send to

Subject Line: Author name – Manuscript for Film and Gender issue

Please attach your manuscript as a Word Document (doc or docx)

Include: Abstract (100 words), 5 Keywords, and a separate cover page with short author affiliations (less than 130 words) and complete contact information (e-mail, postal address, telephone).

Postal correspondence may be sent to: Managing Editor, Latin American Perspectives¸ P.O. Box 5703, Riverside, California 92517-5703.

For an article with more than one author, provide contact information for all authors but designate one person as the Corresponding Author who will receive correspondence from the LAP office.  If any contact information changes while your manuscript is under consideration, please send the updated information to LAP promptly.

Submission of a manuscript implies commitment to publish in the journal. Authors should not submit a manuscript that has been previously published in English in identical or substantially similar form nor should they simultaneously submit it or a substantially similar manuscript to another journal in English.  LAP will consider manuscripts that have been published in another language, usually with updating.  Prior publication should be noted, along with the publication information.

Issue editor contact information:

Kristi Wilson, Soka University –

Clara Garavelli, University of Leicester –