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Gender in Cuban Cinema

From the Modern to the Postmodern


Guy Baron

A film institute was the first cultural institution to be created by the new Cuban revolutionary government in 1959. One of its aims was to create a new cinema to suit the needs of the Revolution in a climate of transformation and renewal. During the same period, issues of gender equality and gender relations became important as the Revolution attempted to eradicate some of the negative social tendencies of the past. Through the prism of the gender debate, Cuban cinema both reflected and shaped some of the central ideological concerns on the island at this time.
This book brings together these two extremely significant aspects of the Cuban revolutionary process by examining issues of gender and gender relations in six Cuban films produced between 1974 and 1990. Using close textual analysis and theoretical insights from feminism and postmodernism, the author argues that the portrayal of aspects of gender relations in Cuban cinema developed along a progressive path, from expressions of the modern to expressions of the postmodern.


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Chapter 3Sexuality and Motherhood 125


Chapter 3 Sexuality and Motherhood As her sons have seen her: the mother in patriarchy: controlling, erotic, castrating, heart-suf fering, guilt-ridden, and guilt-provoking; a marble brow, a huge breast, an avid cave; between her legs snakes, swamp grass, or teeth; on her lap a helpless infant or a martyred son. She exists for one purpose; to bear and nourish the son.1 Introduction This chapter is intended as a theoretical and contextual introduction to the two films analysed in detail in Chapter 4: Retrato de Teresa (1979, Pastor Vega) and Lejanía (1985, Jesús Díaz), two films that both have a mother as a central character. As argued in Chapter 1, machismo has been central to Cuba’s psycho- sexual development as a nation formed out of a Hispanic colonial and Black African past. Male domination over women in all areas is a historical phenomenon that the Revolution has partially attempted to ameliorate, using certain legislative measures such as the Family Code (discussed in the Introduction to this work). In Chapter 2, the analysis of the film Hasta cierto punto touched on notions of sex and sexuality, particularly in rela- tion to the central character, Oscar, who will not make love with his wife, but has an af fair with female dockworker and single mother, Lina. In this film, at the end, Lina leaves to go and start a new life in Santiago de Cuba. It is argued that this ‘eliminates’ her from the scene, thus evacuating the 1 Rich,...

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