The Alonso Collection, donated by filmmaker Carlos Alonso-- a well-known director in Uruguay from the early 20th century-- to the Archivo Nacional de la Imagen y la Palabra, captures lost scenery of the Uruguayan countryside. Alonso was renowned in the early years of cinema, notably for his silent film El pequeño héroe del Arroyo de Oro (The Little Hero of Arroyo de Oro, 1929), which is considered to be a pioneering work of Uruguayan cinema.
Throughout the 1920’s to the 1940’s, Alonso collected a series of film shots that were to be produced in a documentary-styled piece on Uruguay’s physical development. The materials consist of nitrate film shot throughout different provinces, including Tacuarembó, Flores, Artigas, Soriano, Colonia, Durazno, Treinta y Tres, Río Negro and Rivera. After a recent investigation, the project team of Cine Casero has strongly suspected that the film reels are part of an attempted film series called El Gran Film del Uruguay (The Great Film of Uruguay), which aimed to cover the thriving modernity throughout Uruguay's provinces.
The state of the current countryside is completely altered, primarily due to modernization and centralization of Montevideo as a social and political hegemonic capital. And unfortunately, there is a lack of visual documentation of Uruguay's rural regions before the modern changes. Cine Casero’s project with MEAP focuses on preserving the historic state of the Uruguayan countryside and making accessible Alonso’s ambitious film series by cataloguing the collection.
This film series is of significant value to not just preserving the physical structures of historic Uruguay, but also to the country’s national identity and gradual changes brought on by industrialization and modernization. Film as a media is a useful tool in maintaining memory, and this collection will allow users in Uruguay and beyond to explore places and activities that have not been seen by generations