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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 4The Mother on Screen 157


Chapter 4 The Mother on Screen Part 1: Retrato de Teresa (1979, Pastor Vega) Retrato de Teresa is set in 1970s Havana. Teresa, wife to Ramón and mother of their three children, struggles to balance her work, family and revolutionary responsibilities. With a full�time job plus out�of�work union duties as dress� maker to a successful dance troupe, and cultural leader of her workplace, Teresa at first refuses to take on any more union responsibilities. But she is persuaded to carry on, and her and Ramón’s relationship finally breaks down as he feels she has little time for him and the family. Ramón leaves home and starts a new relationship, while Teresa becomes ill with stress and has to take time of f work. Of fered a new job in Santiago, Ramón tries to win his wife back so that she will go with him but she cannot forgive his infidelity. After she refuses to tell him whether or not she has also had an af fair, she walks away from him into a crowded street as he follows. Retrato de Teresa was made in 1979 and dealt very directly with domestic male–female relations, coming only four years after the introduction of the 1975 Family Code, discussed in the Introduction to this work. The film was set in Havana and, as Julianne Burton (1991: 82) comments it was seen by half the adult population of the city within the first six weeks of...

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