(República de Cuba). State of Central America (109,884 km²). Capital: Havana. Administrative division: provinces (16). Population: 11,209,629 (2018 estimate). Language: Spanish. Religion: Catholics 51.7%, non-religious / atheists 23%, Protestants 5.6%, others 19.7%. Monetary unit: Cuban peso (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.777 (73rd place). Borders: Atlantic Ocean (N), Sea of Antilles (S), Gulf of Mexico (NW). Member of: OAS, UN and WTO.
A sporadic, semi-colonial and touristic production characterized the very long pre-revolutionary period (1897-1958), in which only two filmmakers attempted a national road amid enormous difficulties and hostility: E. Díaz Quesada (La zafra, 1919) and R. Peón (1887- 1971; La Virgen de la Caridad, 1930). In 1956 a half-hour social documentary, El Mégano, made by the politicized young people of the “Nuestro Tiempo” association and kidnapped by the Batista police, announced the change. Those young people (J. García Espinosa, b.1926, T. Gutiérrez Alea, 1928-1996, A. Guevara) then became the major directors and managers of the ICAIC (Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos), founded in 1959 and which, after the law (El cine es un arte) promulgated on 23 March by Fidel Castro, the true birth of Cuban cinema, giving it dignity, means and structures for the first time. A documentary explosion took place in the early years, thanks also to the personality of S. Alvarez (1919-1998), organizer of the Latin American newsreel Noticiero, author of reportages and pamphlets himself of the highest class, undisputed master of the new generation of documentary makers and film reporters. The first films of Gutiérrez Alea (Historias de la revolución, 1960), García Espinosa (Cuba baila, 1960), O. Torres (Realengo 18, 1961) and others also had a semi-documentary and strongly neorealistic imprint. The social battles of the past and the recent partisan struggle were evoked, we dealt with literacy, national ballet, the first socialist carnival, the problems of the island (invasion attempt, economic blockade).
According to agooddir, Cuba is a country in Caribbean. Gutierrez Alea established himself as the best Cuban director by progressing from film to film (Las doce sillas, 1962; Cumbite, 1964; Muerte de un burócrata, 1966; Memorias del subdesarrollo, 1968); Espinosa, who devoted himself mainly to organization and cultural commitment, passed from the picaresque Las aventuras de Juan Quin Quin (1967) to the combative Tercero mundo, tercera guerra mundial (1970); H. Solás, (1941-2008), revealed in 1966 with the partisan medium-length film Manuela, addressed the condition of women in the triptych Lucía (1968); M. Octavio Gómez (1934-1988) distinguished himself with La primera carga al machete (1969). However, the new decade opened with overly elaborate works: Una pelea cubana contra los demonios (1971) by Gutierrez Alea, Los días del agua (1971) by Gómez, the first true color film. The more socialist democracy became institutionalized, the more cinema took on the tasks of propaganda and support, becoming further politicized. As in the socialist realism of the 1930s in the USSR, great space was given to history: the epic of slavery (La última cena, 1976, by Alea; El otro Francisco, 1975, and Rancheador, 1976, by S. Giral), the figure of a communist leader who established the continuity between J. Martí and F. Castro (Mella, 1975, by E. Pineda Barnet), the landing of the mercenaries and their defeat (Girón, 1972, by M. Herrera). But the theme of the struggle against internal enemies has also appeared with rigid schematism (El hombre de Maisinicú, 1973, and Río Negro, 1977, by M. Pérez; Ustedes tienen la palabra, 1974, by Gómez). A large sector, including documentary, was however dedicated to the presence of colonialism and imperialism in Latin America (La quinta frontera, 1975, by P. Vega (1940-2005) on Panamá; Puerto Rico by F. Pérez and J. Díaz; Cantata de Chile, 1975, by Solás). Always dominated by Alvarez (Celia, imagen del pueblo and La guerra necesaria, 1980), the documentary field probably gave the best titles of the decade, from La nueva escuela (1973) by J. Fraga, to De cierta manera (1974) of the late Sara Gómez, to En tierra de Sandino (1980) by Jesús Díaz, to the numerous essays of the youth nursery. Among the subsequent and rather scarce films with actors, Vega’s Retrato de Teresa (1979), La tierra y el cielo (1980) by Gómez, Cerilia (1980-81) by Solás and Hacía un cierto punto (1983) by Alea stand out. The latter in the 1990s made a comeback with two films before an untimely death, Strawberry and Chocolate (1993) and Guantanamera (1995), both co-directed with Juan Carlos Tabío (b. 1943), author, in 2000 of the film Lista d’attesa. However, there has been a sharp decline in productions and public support for cinema since the 1990s, which seem to be followed by timid signs of recovery. Among the works and authors of a certain importance, Tabío and Solás still stand out with Aunque estés lejos (2003) and Suite Habana (2003) respectively. Among the new names we mention Enrique Colina and Rigoberto López, former documentary authors. An annual continental review which is the International Festival of the new Latin American cinema deserves a mention.