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Where is the “center” and where is the “periphery” in film history? This question will guide the following paper on film critic Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes (1916-1977) and his intellectual network, from a postcolonial perspective, and using an interrelational approach to history (Said, 1994; Stam, 1997; Werner & Zimmermann, 2002).

What does an “interrelational approach” mean? In the first place, it focuses more on processes of circulation and on the transnational intellectual networks behind them—both central to fostering cultural and technical exchanges—rather than on a national-centered perspective within fixed state borders, that ends up reproducing old economic prejudices such as “center” and “periphery” (Gregor & Patalas, 1962; Idem, 1973; Gregor, 1978; Sadoul, 1982). By its nature, film history is intertwined and global. A good example of interconnected trajectories that challenges old national(istic) views is that of filmmaker Alberto Cavalcanti (1897-1982). He was an avant-garde artist in the 1920s and 1930s that developed an international career and built up a vast network of contacts in his field. Cavalcanti was born in Rio de Janeiro and moved to Paris at the early age of 18 to study architecture (Sadoul, 1982: 411). Film historian Ian Aitken states the following about the growing intellectual film culture in France during the first decades of the 20th Century:

In 1920 [Ricciotto] Canudo founded the journal Le Gazette de sept arts, in which he published essays by painters such as Fernand Leger, writers such as Jean Cocteau, and film-makers such as Jean Epstein. Canudo also founded what may have been the world’s first film club in 1920: the Club des amis du septieme art. The Club (…) held informal gatherings attended by writers and film-makers such as Alberto Cavalcanti, Marcel L’Herbier, Epstein and Cocteau, and played an important role within the film culture of the period (Aitken, 2001: 75).

About the author

Ricardo Borrmann
Ricardo Borrmann studied Social Sciences at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and took his Master’s Degree in Politics and History at the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), both in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). In 2018, he was Visiting Research Fellow at the ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, University of Bremen. Between 2012 and 2017 he did his PhD research in Latin American Cultural History at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich (LMUMünchen) with a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). In his PhD Thesis (2017) he researched on the Reception of Rudolf von Jhering´s and Ernst Haeckel´s ideas by the Brazilian legal field in the 19thCentury and focused on the intellectuals Tobias Barreto de Menezes and Sílvio Romero. In his postdoc research project “Film history, Latin America and transatlantic
knowledge circulation: Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes international Network (1935-1977)” Ricardo Borrmann researches on Brazilian film critic Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes (1916-1977), founder of the “Brazilian Cinematheque” (Cinemateca Brasilieira) and father of the academic film studies in Brazil. The research aims at reconstructing Salles Gomes´ international and Latin-American intellectual Network. The project is settled in the Chair of Latin American History (AG Geschichte Lateinamerikas),at the Faculty of History (FB 8) of the University of Bremen. It is also docked at the transdisciplinary research lab “Audio-visual Media and Historiography”, coordinated by Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels, at the Center for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI). Ricardo Borrmann is a member of the research lab “City and Power” (Laboratório Cidade e Poder) at the History Institute of the Universidade Federal Fluminense (LCP/UFF) and is also a member of the Editorial Board of Passagens – International Review of Political History and Legal Culture and of Revista Direito em Movimento.