Cinema - News bulletins and fiction

The National News Bulletin, which began broadcasting periodically in 1947 and was shown in movie theaters of the day, such as the Granados, was an experience that lasted only a few short years in its first stage. 

In the 50s, Paraguayan fictional films began to be made, directed by Argentines.  The first was titled “Codicia,” filmed in 1955 by Catrazo Catrani, a co-production between Lumiton (Argentina) and PRO-PAR-CINE (Associated Paraguayan Cinematographic Productions) (Asunción).  This film’s protagonists were Paraguayans Jacinto Herrera and Sarita Atúnez.  Other Paraguayan actors Leandro Cacavelos and Roque Centurión Miranda also participated in the film, under the musical direction of Herminio Jiménez.

Another Argentine filmmaker that filmed in Paraguay in the middle of the 50s was Armando Bo, husband of actress Isabel Sarli, who made the movie “The Thunder between the Leaves” based on the story by Augusto Roa Bastos, with script by the author himself.  Various Paraguayan actors participated in the filming. 

Another movie made in Paraguayan territory was “The Blood and the Seed”, from 1959, whose storyline occurs during the War of the 70s, with script by Augusto Roa Bastos about a story by Mario Halley Mora, directed by Alberto Dubois.

In the 60s, several other movies were made starring Isabel Sarli, such as “La Burrerita de Ypacarai (“The Little Donkey Owner from Ypacarai”), “Carne” (“Meat”), “Poseída” (“Possessed”), all filmed partially or entirely in Paraguay. 

At the time, there were no known Paraguayan directors, but Augusto Roa Bastos developed as a standout scriptwriter, including on his résumé scripts for “Shunko” (1960), awarded the prize for best script in Argentine cinema in 1960; “Alias Fardelito” (1960), winner of the Santa Margarita Film Festival in Italy in 1961; “La Sed” (“Thirst”) (1961) and “Don Segundo Sombra” (1970).

The aforementioned film “Thirst” was an adaptation of the novel “Son of Man,” finally premiering under the title “Drivers of the Chaco,” under the direction of Lucas Demare.

The National News Bulletin began showing again in 1954, and was used to record activities by the dictator Alfredo Stroessner.  During this time, the Experimental Art Cinema, formed by Jesús Ruiz Nestosa, Antonio Pecci and Carlos Saguier, who attempted to bring new cinematic tendencies of the times to the big screen.  This group made short- and medium-length documentaries, like “Francisco,” “Un día de mayo” (“A Day in May”) and “La costa” (“The Coast”), the experimental “Metamorphosis,” and the production of the social court, “El pueblo” (“The People”).

In that decade, Guillermo Vera also made his works known as the author of a daily cycle of films about Paraguay, produced in 16 millimeter, for television. 

Vera produced important novelties of Paraguayan cinema in the 1970s, with his important documentaries like “La voluntad de un pueblo” (“The Will of a People”) and “La Fundición de Ybycuí” (“The Foundry of Ybycuí”), and in 1979, the first feature-length fictional movie made entirely in Paraguay:  “Cerro Corá,” that deals with the Triple Alliance War and the heroic Paraguayan driver Francisco Solano Lopez.  The film’s protagonists were Roberto de Felice and Rosa Ross, with the majority of the cast being Paraguayan actors.