OUR NEIGHBORHOOD: Washington’s TV Cold War in Latin America across the 1960s is a feature-length documentary that examines the convergence of two revolutions: Castro's overthrow of US empire in Cuba and television's conquest of Latin America's mass culture. Our Neighborhood‘s heart is archival footage of the actual programs the United States Information Agency (USIA) covertly and semicovertly sponsored to wage small-screen counterinsurgency against the Cuban Revolution's threat to Washington's control of its so-called Western Hemisphere. Produced in Latin America as well as in the United States the programs covered a range of genres: serial melodramas and action series, regular newscasts and special reports, entertainment and educational talk shows, docudramas and documentaries focused on discrediting the Cuban Revolution. The shows have been publicly unviewed since they aired widely and regularly everywhere in Latin America (except Cuba) across the Sixties. But Our Neighborhood's archival footage does not tell its entire story alone. Original onscreen interviews with surviving producers and performers, already produced by Pickerel Pie Entertainment in its Long Island City, Queens (NYC) studio, dramatized sequences that directly draw on a trove of revelatory documents –– declassified for this project through its writer-director’s Freedom of Information Act case –– about the programs’ international production, distribution, and reception, evocative expression of the ideas, icons, and individuals –– spanning socialist revolution to liberal modernization, Fidel and Che to Jack and Jackie, Marshall McLuhan to Edward R. Murrow –– that shaped and expressed the new Third World Cold War's TV front in Latin America, and animated sequences that dynamically visualize how TV culture developed across places over time all contribute to this Our Neighborhood's presentation.
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD draws on original research and scholarship by its writer/director, Seth Fein (that's me!). I discussed how this film emerged from that earlier work at the University of Manchester's Critical Mass Seminar, not too long ago. OUR NEIGHBORHOOD also engages present-day propaganda production, which I addressed in an essay The Medium Shapes the Message that connected Washington's post-9/11 TV operations in the Middle East, established under Bush II, to its post-Cuban Revolution TV operations in Latin America, established under JFK, which Our Neighborhood explores.
DIRECTOR/WRITER/PRODUCER SETH FEIN
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