Latin Webdocs

Arnau Gifreu Castells

Latin Webdocs

Although the majority of production of interactive documentary has been concentrated mainly in Northern Hemisphere Countries, such as Canada, France and the United States, and to a lesser degree in The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany, in recent years there has been some movement in Latin countries around this form of narrative expression. Documentaries have historically played an important role in Latin America, a region with a strong narrative tradition and an inherit necessity to tell stories as a collective catharsis in response to the problems and conflicts that they have faced during the last decades and even centuries.

The interest in interactive documentaries in Latin America has been linked to social and activist topics such as migration routes, drug trafficking, youth violence, problems in education and political conflicts, to name a few. Many of these interactive documentaries use different media (such as audio, photos, video and text) but placed, or structured, within the confines of one platform, often the Internet. However, often in these early works the interactive narrative structure is very simple or just doesn’t exist at all (a mosaic of choices or a menu with videos). This is because a new media has to forge a new language, so Latin American countries need to experiment and play with the form itself until they find the right balance between narration and interaction.

The dialogue charts the emergence of interactive documentary production and its state of development in several South American countries. We also compare the contexts of commissioning and audience demand and consider the forms and approaches that are coming to the fore within these cultural, political and linguistic contexts. To do this we analyze three representative projects: Ressaca (Bruno Vianna, 2008), Malvinas 30 (Álvaro Liuzzi, 2013) and Quipu Project (Chaka Studio, 2013-ongoing). These examples show how different cultures, other than the Anglophone and Francophone cultures, imagine and develop interactive and transmedia documentaries, and by extension create new ways of storytelling with unique traits and points of view.

To characterize some interactive documentary practices in South America, we focus our analysis on three representative countries in this area: Brazil, Peru and Argentina. We selected a work from each of these three countries. We chose the work from Brazil because it is an early example that goes far beyond the seminal productions of this country, with little or no interactivity; we chose the work from Peru because it is an example that offers an innovative and novel way of alleviating the pain of many women and families; and we chose the work from Argentina in order to explore the transmedia documentary form as a historical reenactment of facts for the first time in South America.