Cinema as a Tool for Development: Investigating the Power of Mobile Cinema in the Latin American Context
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Previous studies have shown that community arts bring many benefits to communities, but they also revealed that there are ethical challenges and limits to their efficacy. As a form of community arts, mobile cinema initiatives have multiplied around the world during the last two decades. However, no empirical research was found on the impacts of these interventions. Considering the need for new and innovative avenues for social change, addressing this research gap is relevant for both development theory and practice. The present study was carried out in order to investigate the organization of two mobile cinema projects, the contents of the films presented, and as well as the immediate intellectual and emotional reactions of their public. Data was collected by interviewing the leaders and the public of the Colombian project Cine en los Barrios and the Uruguayan project Ecocinema. Several types of immediate responses were reported by the public, which provided evidence for the immediate benefits of attending mobile cinema sessions. Nonetheless the results showed that the projects only include limited opportunities for participation, and need to work with communities on a deeper level and with a longer-term vision if they are to offer an avenue for community-based development. Following the formulation of conclusions on the impacts of the projects studied, the idea of merging mobile cinema with community video was proposed.