Chicana/o cinema has its roots in several forms of oppression: economic, social, and political. As a cinema by, for, and about people who experience systematic oppression on a daily basis, it has remained in a marginal status since its inception. As Gary D. Keller suggests, financial neglect and exploitation have limited the number of Chicana/o films and the shape of the final product: “Indeed, as an oppressed cinema as well as a cinema about oppression, its limitations have been primarily of the sort—both in terms of the number of productions and the aspirations and results of the extant product—that are imposed by financial neglect or its malignant verso, financial exploitation” (13).1 In order to produce films, Chicana/o filmmakers had to find ways to subvert the oppression that relegated them and their projects to the margins. According to Keller, this was partially accomplished during the civil rights movement thanks to the advocacy of Chicana/o college students and Hispanic organizations (46). He also suggests that as a result, “the film industry itself sought to increase the participation of Chicanos and other minorities in the craft of filmmaking” (46). In this manner, for the first time Chicanas/os were able to play a significant role in the development of Chicana/o-themed films. However, despite its ability to emerge as a viable art form in the 1960s, oppression has remained a principal theme of Chicana/o cinema because it remains a part of the everyday lives of Chicana/o people.
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