CUBANS ARE avid moviegoers. Prior to 1959, of Cuba’s 7 million population, approximately 1.5 million living in Havana and other large cities went to the movies weekly, mainly to see Hollywood films. Cuban movie aficionados were a significant sector of the population ready to be educated or influenced by whomever controlled by movie industry. The Cuban revolutionary government has considered cinema to be an important and necessary medium for reaching large numbers of Cubans. Fidel Castro and other leaders support Lenin in considering cinema the most important art form.
Shortly after assuming power, Castro created on 25 March 1959 the Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficas (Institute for Cinematographic Arts and Industries, ICAIC), Cuba’s movie industry, to oversee the production, distribution, and exhibition of films. The ICAIC’s first director was Alfredo Guevara, one of Castro’s university student friends. A member of the Partido Socialista Popular, Cuba’s Communist party, Guevara and allies sought to influence the direction of Cuban cinema at the expense of other competing interests. Large movie houses were nationalized, smaller ones were incorporated into government cooperatives, and a mobile cinema, consisting of trucks and mule teams, made available a variety of films to those living in remote parts of the island. The ICAIC also exposed the public to foreign films. The majority of them were filmed in Eastern bloc countries (the Soviet Union, Czecho slovakia, Yugoslavia) and the People’s Republic of China. Others were imported from Western Europe (England, Spain, and France), Japan, and Latin America, in particular Mexico. Twenty-four years