C LIT 357 A Wi 21: Literature And Film

C LIT 357 A Wi 21: Literature And Film


C LIT 357A / JSIS 480

The Political Thriller in Latin America

Professor Cynthia Steele

Winter 2021

TTh 12:30-2:20                        

Zoom Link:





Introduction to the genre of the political thriller, through close readings of two Febels,  nineteen films and five essays in film criticism, exploring family and intimate relationships against the backdrop of dramatic political changes in Argentina and Chile during the past half century: first the military coups, dictatorships, tortures and disappearances of the 1970s and 1980s, and then the processes of democratization and reconciliation of the 1990s and 2000s.  Texts: Marcelo Figueras, Kamchatka. Trans. Frank Wynne. NY: Grove Press / Black Cat, 2010; and Eduardo Sacheri, The Secret in their Eyes. Trans. John Cullen. NY: Other Press, 2011. Films:

Spoils of War, The Official Story, Rojo, Clandestine Childhood, Kamchatka, El premio, The Invisible Eye, El secreto de sus ojos, The Secret in their Eyes, Salvador Allende, Massacre at the Stadium, Machuca, The Pinochet Case, Post-Mortem, No, Nostalgia for the Light, The Cordillera of Dreams, El Patio and Pacto de fuga. Most of the films will be available for instant streaming for free; a few are available on Netflix or on Amazon for a small rental fee.        

I will post film questions to our Canvas site, to guide our discussions. Students will keep a film viewing and reading journal, participate in a group presentation, and write an analytical, 4-6-page essay, comparing a theme or problem in two or three of the texts or films we have studied. The films have English subtitles and the readings are in English translation, so no knowledge of Spanish is required (but is most welcome!).

Canvas Site:


Films: Argentina:  

  1. Spoils of War (dir. David Blaustein, 2000). (Canvas)
  1. The Official Story (dir. Luis Puenzo, 1985) (Kanopy)



  1. Rojo (dir. Benjamín Naishtat, 2017) (Amazon, $4)



4. Clandestine Childhood (dir. Benjamín Avila, 2011). (Kanopy)



  1. Kamchatka (dir. Marcelo Piñyero, 2002). (Canvas)
  2. El premio. (dir. Paula Markovich, 2011). (Amazon Prime)



  1. The Invisible Eye (dir. Diego Lerman, 2010). (Kanopy)



  1. El secreto de sus ojos (dir. Juan José Campanella, 2009) (Alexander Street))



  1. The Secret in their Eyes (dir. Billy Ray, 2015) (Netflix)



Films: Chile:  

  1. Salvador Allende (dir. Patricio Guzmán, Icarus Films, 2006), 1 hour 40 minutes (Alexander Street)



  1. Massacre at the Stadium. (Dir. Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, Netflix, 2019). (Netflix)



  1. Machuca (dir. Andrés Wood, 2004). (Kanopy)



  1. Beyond My Grandfather Allende, dir. Marcia Tambutti Allende, 2015



  1. Post-mortem (dir. Pablo Larraín, 2010). (Amazon $3)



  1. No (dir. Pablo Larraín, 2012). (Alexander Street)



  1. Nostalgia for the Light (dir. Patricio Guzmán, 2011). (Alexander Street)



  1. The Cordillera of Dreams (dir. Patricio Guzmán, 2019) (Alexander Street)



  1. El patio (dir. Elvira Díaz, 2016). (Amazon Prime)



  1. Pacto de fuga (dir. David Albala, 2020). (Amazon Prime)





In class

Due today



Tues, 5 Jan



Thurs, 7 Jan




Film 1: Spoils of War (Canvas); Sacheri, Kamchatka, pp 3-73, Ch. 1-24


Tues 12 Jan



Film 2: Official Story (Kanopy); Sacheri, Kamchatka, pp 74-154, Ch. 25-45; Chaudhuri essay

Thurs 14 Jan


Film 3: Rojo (Amazon $4); Figueras, Kamchatka, pp 155-229, Ch. 46-63


Tues 19 Jan




Film 4: Clandestine Childhood (Kanopy); Figueras, Kamchatka, pp 233-309, Ch. 64-81


Thurs 21 Jan




Film 5: Kamchatka (Canvas); Sacheri, The Secret in their Eyes, Ch. 1-12, pp 1-121


Tues 18 Jan



Film 6: El premio (Amazon Prime); Sacheri, The Secret in their Eyes, Ch 13-19, pp 122-189

Thurs 20 Jan


Film 7: The Invisible Eye (Kanopy); Sacheri, The Secret in their Eyes, Ch 20-32, pp 190-284


Tues 26 Jan



Film 8: El secreto de sus ojos (Canvas); Sacheri, The Secret in their Eyes, Ch 33-End, pp 285-384; Hortiguera essay

Thurs 28 Jan



Film 9: The Secret in their Eyes (Netflix)



Tues 2 Feb


Film 10: Salvador Allende (Alexander Street)


Thurs 4 Feb


Film 11: Massacre at the Stadium (Netflix); 7 pm Journal 1 due to Canvas as Word document


Tues 9 Feb



Film 12: Machuca (Kanopy); Martín-Cabrera essay

Thurs 11 Feb


Film 13: Beyond My Grandfather Allende (Docuseek)


Tues 16 Feb



Film 14:Post-Mortem (Amazon, $3); Jung essay

Thurs 18 Feb


Film 15: No (Amazon, $4); Cronovich essay


Tues 23 Feb


Film 16: Nostalgia for the Light (Amazon, $4)

Thurs 25 Feb


Film 17: The Cordillera of Dreams (Amazon, $4)


Tues 2 Mar


Film 18: El Patio (Amazon Prime)

Thurs 4 Mar


Film 19: Pacto de fuga (Amazon Prime)


Tues 9 Mar



Discuss draft of final essay

Thurs 11 Mar


Thurs 11 Mar 7 pm Journal 2 & Essay due to Canvas as Word document

Fri, 12 Mar 7 pm: Comparative Essay due to Canvas as Word document


Marcelo Figueras, Kamchatka. Trans. Frank Wynne. NY: Grove Press / Black Cat, 2010, 309 pp. 978-0802170873

Eduardo Sacheri, The Secret in their Eyes. Trans. John Cullen. NY: Other Press, 2011, 384 pp. 978-1590514504

Articles Posted to Canvas (under “Files”):

 A1. Chaudhuri, Shohini. “The Art of Disappearance: Remembering Political Violence in Argentina and Chile.” In his Cinema of the Dark Side: Atrocity and the Ethics of Film Spectatorship. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013, pp. 84-114.

A2. Hortiguera, Hugo. “Perverse Fascinations and Atrocious Acts: An Approach to The Secret in their Eyes by Juan José Campanella.” Studies in Latin American Popular Culture 30 (2012): 110-123.

A3. Martín-Cabrera, Luis. “Class Conflict, State of Exception and Radical Justice in Machuca by Andrés Wood.” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies: Travesía 16.1 (2007): 63-80.

A4.  Jung, Nike. “History, Fiction, and the Politics of Corporeality in Pablo Larraín’s Dictatorship Trilogy.” Film, History, and Memory 2015: 118-133.

A5. Cronovich, Paula T. “’No’ and No. The Campaign of 1988 and Pablo Larraín’s Film.” Radical History Review 124 (January 2016): 165-176.


Determination of Grades:

Reading Journal, Part One                                                                                          20%

Reading Journal, Part Two                                                                                         20%

Group Oral Presentation                                                                                             20%

Comparative Analytical Essay, 4-6 pages                                                                  20%

Class Participation                                                                                                      20%

Reading and Viewing Journal:

 Please write at least 200 words, typed, double-spaced, on each of the eleven films we will watch in class and on each of the ten essays we will discuss. Please see the numbered list of entries and instructions posted on Canvas under “Assignments.”

 Group Presentation:

 In addition to the films that we will screen in class, you will watch one other film and prepare a 30-40-minute presentation on it, together with several other students. I will distribute a sign-up sheet for this purpose. Please see the detailed instructions posted under “Assignments.”

Analytical Essay:

Students will write one 4-6-page analytical essay, including a list of works consulted, and incorporating discussion of the films and readings studied in class. The essay should compare and contrast a theme or problem in two of the films we have studied in class. Please see the topics and detailed instructions posted under “Assignments.”

 Please follow the guidelines of the MLA Handbook:


Please utilize the services of the writing tutors at the Odegaard Writing and Research Center. You can make Zoom appointments with them online:


Academic Honesty:

 You are responsible for understanding and observing the UW guidelines regarding academic honesty. Your written work will be submitted through Canvas, which utilizes Turnitin to detect and provide a detailed report on any instances of plagiarism. Please let me know if you have any questions about this.

Students with Disabilities:

To request accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 ((V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you have a disability that requires academic accommodations,


Course Summary:

Date Details Due