Cuban Cinema

Cuban Cinema

Cuban Cinema

Cuban Cinema

Synopsis

The earliest films made in Cuba--newsreel footage of the Cuban-Spanish-American War-date from the end of the nineteenth century, but Cuba cannot be said to have had an indigenous film industry before the revolution of 1959. The melodramas, musicals, and comedies made until then reflected Hollywood's--and the United States's--cultural domination of the island, but the revolution precipitated urgent debates about the role of cinema in a socialist country and the kinds of films best suited to the needs of the people and their rulers. Among the feature films, documentaries, and short subjects made in accordance with revolutionary principles are celebrated works by Tomas Gutierrez Alea, Humberto Solas, and other filmmakers who have had a profound influence on both Latin American and world cinema. Michael Chanan provides a comprehensive, authoritative, and absorbing account of Cuban cinema both before and after the revolution, deftly setting individual films and filmmakers within the larger framework of Cuba's social, political, and cultural history. First published as The Cuban Image in 1984 to wide acclaim, Cuban Cinema now appears in a new, expanded edition that updates Chanan's discussion to the beginning of the twenty-first century. New chapters address ongoing concerns about freedom of expression; Havana's restored importance within the Latin American film industry through the Havana Film Festival, before state support for filmmakers dwindled in the economic collapse that followed the fall of the Soviet Union; Cuban cinema's place within the globalized cultural market; and the changing audience for Cuban films. The only book-length study of Cuban cinema written in English, thisindispensable work on one of the world's most vital national cinemas offers a unique perspective on the Cuban experience in the twentieth century. The only book-length study of Cuba's film history published in English, and an essent

Excerpt

The first edition of this book was published in 1985 and covered the history of Cuban cinema up to 1979. This new edition, which brings the story current to the turn of the twenty-first century, is separated not just by the passage of years but by a change of historical epoch. When the book first appeared, the Cold War was still in full swing, neoliberalism only in its first phase, and revolutionary Cuba had been boosted by the triumph of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Cuban films enjoyed a reputation around the world as the model of a cinema that conjoined political commitment and bold aesthetic novelty. At the end of the century, the Soviet bloc and the Sandinistas had both passed into history, revolutionary socialism had been discredited by an unthinkable historical reversal, and the talk was all of globalization. Yet socialist Cuba is still there, having survived the severest of peacetime economic crises without becoming a failed state. Its film industry has suffered contraction and no longer attracts the same attention abroad, but it continues to produce films that deserve to be known far more widely. I hope this new edition will contribute to such an end.

Although Cuba was almost bankrupted by the collapse of the Soviet Union, on which the island depended for three decades, nevertheless Fidel Castro and the Communist Party remain in power—widely criticized for not giving up but also admired, if sometimes grudgingly, for the very same thing, both in Latin America and beyond. This book is offered in the conviction that Cuban cinema, even in its weakened condition, provides primary evidence of the complex factors at play in this . . .

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