Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Motion Pictures (Communication)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

William Rothman

Second Committee Member

Christina Lane

Third Committee Member

Ivonne Gavela


During the past decade, Lucrecia Martel has emerged as the most respected filmmaker from South America. This thesis is motivated by my conviction that Martel's films are worthy of serious engagement and critical scrutiny. It is also motivated by my curiosity about the seemingly inexhaustible pleasure and edification I derive from them. Martel describes her filmmaking as "cine de autor" (auteur cinema). Indeed, her films evidence a personal involvement in every aspect of filmmaking. This thesis will define and explore the characteristics and conditions of her authorship. This thesis constitutes an expression of the enduring usefulness of auteurist criticism. In this case, this critical approach is entirely appropriate and likely to yield the deepest insights into the films. The introduction to my thesis provides pertinent biographical information and the necessary socio-cultural context to set the stage for an intellectual immersion into her three features to date: The Swamp (2001), The Holy Girl (2004) and The Headless Woman (2008). I propose that these films constitute a trilogy that distills Martel's experience of growing up in the remote province of Salta and critiques the social and cultural forces at play in provincial Latin American life. However, no matter how specific the sense of place the films convey and how grounded they are in subjective experience, they illuminate universal aspects of being a person in the world and contain progressive prescriptions for living from which anyone can benefit. My research into the literature on the films of Lucrecia Martel failed to find any serious and thorough appraisal of Lucrecia Martelâ??s films as a trilogy. While my analysis benefits from familiarity with the available literature, the operative critical approach privileges my direct experience with the audiovisual material provided by the films. Each film will be subjected to a close reading illustrated with images from it. These readings focus sharply on certain sequences I deem crucial to the conveyance of characterization, meaning and ideology. These readings aim to think with the films rather than think against or about them. They explore the themes and issues that arise within the narratives of the films as well as the formal means by which they do.


Argentine Cinema; Film Criticism; Auteur Cinema