Professor Diane Soles of the Sociology Department at UW-Whitewater sees Cuban film taking a new direction.  Dr. Soles is a specialist in Cuban film and has conducted research in the Cuban Film Institute in Havana. She offered her perspective on Cuban film past and present during our Latin America seminar on Nov. 4.  

 The Cuban Film Institute (Instituto cubano del arte y industria cinematograficas) was an early part of the new revolutionary state put in place under Fidel Castro in 1959. The institute did what it was designed to do. That is, it promoted and controlled a type of film that contrasted with Hollywood by challenging an audience to think, by focusing on the collective rather than the individual, and by bringing film to everyone including the poor.  One example of films in the heyday of the institute in the 1960s were those by the late director Tomas Gutierrez Alea, such as “Memories of Underdevelopment” or the comedy “Death of a Bureaucrat”.

 Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 when Cuba entered an economic crisis, the resources of the institute have collapsed and a new group of filmmakers rely on foreign funding. This means that many newer films operate farther outside the umbrella of the state.  Two new directors and examples of their work are Pavel Giroud and his film “La edad de la peseta” and Alejandro Brugués and “Personal Belongings”.