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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 5Cuba and the Postmodern 203


Chapter 5 Cuba and the Postmodern Postmodernism in Cuba is like Cuba itself. Cuba is an ajiaco, it always has been since the island’s first incursions into art; it has been nourished by artistic echoes from other parts of the world […] Postmodernism in Cuba is an idea, and Cuba’s modernity is all its own.1 Introduction If Lejanía was a film that dealt with one of Cuba’s most dif ficult and intrac- table dilemmas, that of the ideological dif ferences between those who stayed and those who left, then it was all the more welcome for doing so. In its depiction of a woman who suf fered due to this ideological crisis, it raised many important issues, and the silence from the critics was deafen- ing. This was only one among many ideological crises that Cuba suf fered in recent times, and, with the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, things were only likely to get worse. But the fall of Communism did not happen overnight, even if the break-up of the Berlin Wall did, and, by the mid-1980s, Cuba was already preparing itself for dif ficulty. If Cuba had become, as Kapcia (2000) suggests, an ‘Island of Dreams’, rescuing a lost identity and history, via a process of ‘politico-historical myth-making’ 1 Cuban artist Reinaldo Pagán Ávila in an interview with Reinaldo Cedeño Pineda (2003). An ajiaco is a kind of soup or stew common in Latin America that contains a variety of ingredients....

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