Elena Sánchez Valenzuela
Thanks to recently discovered materials, Elena Sánchez Valenzuela has finally received the official recognition she deserves as a journalist; actress; founder, in 1942, of the first Film Archive in Mexico; and documentary filmmaker. It is now clear that she was a seminal figure in Mexican cinema. During the early years of silent motion pictures in Mexico, she acted in two precedent-setting films: Santa (1918), the first and only silent version of Federico Gamboa’s novel of the same title directed by the journalist Luis G. Peredo, and En la hacienda/At the Hacienda (1921), directed by Ernesto Vollrath. She also had roles in three other silent films: El Escándalo (Alfredo B. Cuellar, 1920), La llaga (Luis G. Peredo, 1919), and Barranca trágica (Santiago J. Sierra, 1917). Santa and En la hacienda represent two melodrama subgenres that defined the formula for Mexican melodramas until the 1940s—the brothel and the rural subgenre.
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