The role of national cinema in shaping, reflecting and contesting a complex national identity that is the site of conflict and struggle is the central interest of this study of contemporary Peruvian cinema, 1988-2004. This project examines the relationship between cinema, state and identity in Peru, with a specific focus on the representation of the political violence between the state and Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) that began in 1980. It looks in particular at portrayals of important events, characters and consequences of the bloody conflict that for a time threatened to destabilize the nation entirely. It considers these representations in the context of a time of great change for Peruvian society and of transition for Peruvian national cinema, and addresses the relationship between developments in film policy and the formation of Peruvian national identity in cinema. As such, it draws on debates about the nature and function of national cinemas, as well as on discussions between artists, cultural theorists and sociologists about the evolution of peruanidad since the declaration of independence from Spain in the early nineteenth century. Once the main elements of the cinematic and social crises have been explored and established in Chapters Two and Three, the remainder of the project consists of three sets of chronologically ordered analyses of individual films that somehow defied the national cinema crisis, and that provoked debate on both the conflict itself, and on broader questions pertaining to the relationship between national identity and violence. The conclusion considers these films as an interlinked body of cinematic works that share similar themes and concerns. It summarises the issues they tackle, the ideological and formal approaches they take to those issues, the potential social and cultural impact, and their contribution to the crystallization of a Peruvian national identity at the start of the twenty-first century
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