Bolivian Indigenous Film and the Aesthetics of the Precarious
The National Plan of Indigenous Communication in Bolivia, one of the most notable experiences of indigenous media in Latin America, is acknowledged by its nationwide presence since the late 1990s, its continuous collaboration with national indigenous and peasant unions, and its prolific production. The Plan Nacional is also known for its film production and distribution strategies which often destabilize conventional dynamics, for example, by addressing film directors as “responsables” and not as “filmmakers,” by stressing collaborative production with community and organization members, and by establishing alternative distribution circuits. Based on ethnographic and film analysis, this essay explores the concept of precarious as related to two aspects that characterize Plan Nacional’s work. The chapter discusses first how this initiative has embraced the need to produce low-budget films as a political aesthetic statement. And second, it analyzes how the Plan Nacional’s production dynamic embraces a moral principle of current Bolivian political culture that I explain as “political commitment,” understood as disinterested work seeking a collective benefit and political transformation. Although not always consistent with everyday organizing practices, this principle is common among indigenous unions, and has become instrumental for current state discourses. The chapter concludes that, in addition to concrete economic impacts on the Plan Nacional’s practices, the precarious similarly has affective and aesthetic implications, both in explicit forms of social struggle as well as in ordinary experiences—often reenacted in films—that significantly inform the sense and fantasies of present and future, and that may generate new, emerging forms of solidarity.
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