María Telón and María Mercedes Coroy in Ixcanul. Kino Lorber.

Celebrating Central American cinema

In the realm of world cinema, Central American film has often been an overlooked and underappreciated segment. This is changing, however, thanks to works like The Rise of Central American Film in the Twenty-First Century. This collection of essays, recently published by the University of Florida Press and included in JSTOR’s Path to Open pilot program, offers a comprehensive exploration of the dramatic resurgence of filmmaking in countries from Belize to Panama.

Path to Open: supporting diversity in publishing

Path to Open is a collective funding pilot dedicated to supporting nonprofit university presses in overcoming the challenges of open access publishing. As part of this pilot, titles like The Rise of Central American Film in the Twenty-First Century become open access three years after publication. To drive awareness of this pioneering program, JSTOR Daily is making one chapter of the book freely available, underscoring the commitment to advancing bibliodiversity.

See the Path to Open title list.

Read the free chapter.

Bibliodiversity defined

The term “bibliodiversity” refers to the variety and diversity in publishing, including the range of books, voices, and viewpoints available in the literary marketplace. It emphasizes the importance of having a wide array of cultural and intellectual expressions accessible through different publishing practices. 

This concept is often used in discussions about the cultural, linguistic, and subject-matter diversity of books, especially in contexts where dominant commercial publishing trends may overshadow regional, minority, or less commercial voices.

Examples of advancing bibliodiversity

  • Enhancing visibility and accessibility: Being part of JSTOR’s Path to Open pilot will make The Rise of Central American Film in the Twenty-First Century freely accessible to a global audience in three years, enhancing the visibility of Central American cinema.
  • Promoting underrepresented voices: The book’s focus on Central American film inherently promotes bibliodiversity by highlighting voices and stories from a region that is often marginalized in global cinematic discussions. Open access publishing amplifies this effect by removing the financial barriers to accessing these voices, ensuring that they can reach a more diverse and inclusive audience.
  • Fostering academic and cultural exchange: Open access to such works facilitates greater academic and cultural exchange, allowing researchers and educators from around the world to incorporate diverse sources and perspectives into their teaching and research. This, in turn, enriches the academic discourse and supports a more comprehensive understanding of global cinema.

The revival of Central American film

Central American film, once described by scholar María Lourdes Cortés as “one of the least known and invisible in world cinema,” has seen remarkable growth since the turn of the century. 

The region, which produced a single internationally recognized feature film in the 1990s, has since created over 200 features and documentaries between 2000 and 2017. This represents a significant leap for a region with a population exceeding 100 million across 200,000 square miles.

Themes and insights from the collection

The essays in this collection are thematically organized around memory, movement, identity, and representation. They provide critical insights into how film from the region preserves and sometimes distorts the legacies of war, revolution, and political oppression. Notable contributions include analyses of race and gender discrimination, and discussions on the professionalization of the film industry in Central America.

Editors Mauricio Espinoza and Jared List emphasize that contemporary directors, like Guatemala’s Jayro Bustamante, continue to draw on the region’s revolutionary past to inform their work. They utilize film as a medium to examine societal issues, expose corruption, and propose paths toward a better future. 

Embracing diversity through open access

The inclusion of The Rise of Central American Film in the Twenty-First Century in the Path to Open program highlights JSTOR’s dedication to promoting diverse voices and perspectives in academic publishing. By making these important works accessible, JSTOR not only enriches the global conversation on film but also reinforces the importance of cultural diversity and representation.

Join the movement towards a more inclusive and accessible future in academic publishing. Read the free chapter  to sample a Path to Open title to learn its impact on advancing bibliodiversity through open access.

About Path to Open

Path to Open, a new, multi-year pilot program, was developed in partnership with the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), University of Michigan Press, and The University of North Carolina Press to bring about equitable access and impact for the entire scholarly community. 

This funding model will provide libraries with affordable access to diverse, high-quality frontlist titles; support small and medium university presses in open access publishing; help authors reach a global audience; and advance equity of access to underserved researchers around the world. This pilot aims to protect the bibliodiversity that these university presses bring to the world—new voices, fresh areas of scholarship, emerging fields, and an expertise in diverse disciplines.