The Sleepless Screen: A Brief History of Cuban Cinema. (Features: Cuba)
Rios, Alejandro, Hemisphere
The Cuban passion for film traces back to the nineteenth century, specifically, Havana in 1897. That year brought the visit of Gabriel Veyre, a representative of the French studio Lumiere, who traveled to Cuba from Mexico to demonstrate the invention of the cinematograph. Havana then was a cosmopolitan city, enjoying the newest trends in modern life and entertainment, but surrounded on all sides by the fierce battle for Cuban independence.
Many circumstances have affected the development of the art of film in Cuba since. Somewhat artificially, historians have divided the evolution of Cuban cinema into three periods: silent, republican and revolutionary. The latter periods, the most important for this discussion, are characterized by paradox.
The revolutionary phase, which began in 1959 under the aegis of the Cuban Institute of Cinematic Art and Industry (ICAIC), sought a definitive break with the narrative forms that preceded it. ICAIC attempted to move away from the successful US model in favor of the experimental approach of the European vanguard. Pointedly left out was anything to do with the country's own past and traditions. No more rumbas, Virgins of Charity, or old-fashioned films like Casta de robles or Siete muertes a plazo fijo: It was time to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. The new films retold history in a different way and in support of a predetermined thesis. The nationalism of Marti was usurped by a Marxist internationalism. The Socialist bloc had added the pearl of the Antilles, en oasis of green in a gray system, annexed by force to Eastern Europe thanks …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Sleepless Screen: A Brief History of Cuban Cinema. (Features: Cuba). Contributors: Rios, Alejandro - Author. Journal title: Hemisphere. Publication date: Spring 2003. Page number: 22+. © 1999 Latin American and Caribbean Center. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.