FQ columnist Manuel Betancourt uses the odd couple pairing of Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria (2021) and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Encanto (Jared Bush and Byron Howard, 2021) to examine the cinematic representation of his home country of Colombia. Noting that his childhood cinephilia was nurtured by the foreign productions that dominated theaters, he observes that in the past few decades, bold new Colombian filmmakers have brought to the screen more varied visions of Colombia. Now with Memoria, a foreign filmmaker mines the country’s contradictions and, through his alienated and disoriented protagonist, invites viewers to embrace the unfamiliar in the world. In contrast, Encanto aches to create a kinship with Colombia by commodifying Colombian culture for mass consumption.
Colombia Enchanted in Memoria and Encanto
Manuel Betancourt is a Colombian-born film critic and a cultural writer. His academic work on queer film fandom has appeared in Genre and GLQ, while his cultural criticism has been featured in Film Comment, The New York Times, Variety, The Atlantic, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. He is one of the writers of the Eisner Award-nominated graphic novel series The Cardboard Kingdom (Knopf, 2018, 2021), the author of Judy at Carnegie Hall (Bloomsbury, 2020), a 33 1/3 book on the 1961 Grammy award-winning double album, and the forthcoming essay collection, The Male Gazed (Catapult). www.mbetancourt.com
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Manuel Betancourt; Colombia Enchanted in Memoria and Encanto. Film Quarterly 1 June 2022; 75 (4): 64–68. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2022.75.4.64
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