In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Cuban Cinema

  • Introduction
  • Overviews by Cuban Authors
  • International Overviews
  • Reference Works and Film Guides
  • Anthologies
  • Bibliographies
  • Online Resources
  • Encyclopedia Articles
  • Journals
  • Early Cuban Cinema
  • Julio García Espinosa and Imperfect Cinema
  • Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
  • Fernando Pérez
  • Humberto Solás
  • Gender in Cuban Cinema
  • Afro-Cuban Themes
  • Cuban Cinema during the Special Period
  • Cuban Cinema in the 21st Century
  • Independent Film

Cinema and Media Studies Cuban Cinema
Ruth Goldberg
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 October 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0021


The Cuban viewing public developed a healthy appetite for cinema during the first half of the twentieth century, but in spite of many efforts and some notable early films by Cuban filmmakers and producers, a national cinema initially failed to develop as fully in Cuba as in some other Latin American countries. It was only after the revolution came into power on 1 January 1959 that a national film industry was set in motion and a national cinema developed in earnest. Three months later, in what was to be its first cultural act, the revolutionary government created a national film industry, called the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC). At its inception ICAIC dedicated itself to producing and promoting cinema as a vehicle for communicating the ideas of the revolution, recognizing film as a medium for education, and seeking to provide an ideological alternative to the powerful media machine of Hollywood. ICAIC enjoyed a golden age, producing innovative and experimental fiction films that endure as classic works of great artistic value, including the influential revolutionary films of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Julio García Espinosa, and Humberto Solás, among many others. During this period ICAIC also produced luminaries in the field of documentary film, including Santiago Álvarez, Sara Gomez, and Nicolas Guillén Landrián, among others, whose experiments with both form and content continue to influence generations of filmmakers. As Cuban cinema has evolved and developed new patterns and directions in the fifty years since the founding of ICAIC, so too has the scholarship on Cuban cinema developed and evolved, in a departure from the impassioned political solidarity of leftist film scholars in the 1960s and 1970s. More recent scholarship on Cuban cinema has expanded to include historical works written by Cuban researchers on early Cuban films, as well as chronicles of the “Special Period” after the collapse of the Soviet Union when Cuban cinema began to shift toward new models of production, new formal strategies, and thematic content. Recent scholarship also includes reports from the current moment, in which we observe a new generation of filmmakers, and new artistic visions and developments in cinematic production on the island.

Overviews by Cuban Authors

These works by Cuban critics exist in clear dialogue with one another, and the authors frequently refer to each other’s work. Del Río and Díaz 2010 provides close looks at a broad selection of Cuban films, where González 2002 gives a sense of cultural and cinematic context. The two volumes García Borrero 2009a and García Borrero 2009b included in this section are quite distinct. The volume of writings from the author’s blog in García Borrero 2009a features some of the most articulate and knowledgeable current historical/philosophical writing about Cuban cinema, and García Borrero 2009b (Otras maneras de pensar el cine Cubano) is a radical rethinking of the entire category “Cuban cinema.” Castillo, et al. 2010 reflects nine important voices in the conversation about Cuban cinema, while the Noguer 2002 volume presents a sustained inquiry from one of the most knowledgeable authors on the topic. The posthumous collection Valdés Rodríguez 2010 offers readers the opportunity to become acquainted with early Cuban film criticism.

  • Castillo, Luciano, Manuel Pérez, Sandra del Valle, et al. Conquistando la utopía: El ICAIC y la Revolución Cubana, 50 años después. Havana, Cuba: Ediciones Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográfica (ICAIC), 2010.

    Collected papers presented on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of ICAIC. Nine authors discuss the Cuban film industry and compare its first years of existence with contemporary film production on the island.

  • del Río, Joel, and Marta Díaz. Los cien caminos del cine cubano. Havana, Cuba: Ediciones ICAIC, 2010.

    One hundred and twelve Cuban films made between 1906 and 2008—from the canonical to the obscure—are analyzed in terms of their cultural resonance, historical context, and artistic merit.

  • García Borrero, Juan Antonio. Bloguerías. Colección Mare Nostrum. Camagüey, Cuba: Editorial Ácana, 2009a.

    A compilation of writings from the author’s blog Cine cubano: La pupila insomne (Cuban cinema: the insomniac eye), one of the most informed and widely read international sources on Cuban cinema. García Borrero possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject, and his writing is provocative and compelling.

  • García Borrero, Juan Antonio. Otras maneras de pensar el cine cubano. Santiago de Cuba, Cuba: Editorial Oriente, 2009b.

    An exciting reevaluation of the historiography of Cuban cinema. García Borrero makes a convincing argument for moving beyond the ICAIC-centricity of traditional scholarship on the subject.

  • González, Reynaldo. Cine cubano: Ese ojo que nos ve. Colección Cultura Cubana. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2002.

    This is a lively, reflexive account of the history of Cuban cinema, decade by decade. González has a keen ability to articulate the resonance of emblematic cultural figures and cinematic tendencies.

  • Noguer, Eduardo G. Historia del cine cubano: Cien años, 1897–1998. 2d ed. Colección Arte. Miami, FL: Ediciones Universal, 2002.

    By far the best illustrated history of Cuban cinema in terms of the sheer quantity of rare photographs of production from both mainstream and underground films on the island.

  • Valdés Rodríguez, José Manuel. Ojeada al cine cubano. Havana, Cuba: Ediciones ICAIC, 2010.

    A newly edited collection of writings by the late critic José Manuel Valdés Rodríguez, who was the first Cuban film scholar and critic on the island and chronicled the development of cinema prior to the establishment of ICAIC.

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