Copyright © 1999 International Development Options
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Volume One Winter 1998-Spring 1999 Numbers 3-4.
NATION, CINEMA, AND WOMEN: DISCOURSES, REALITIES, AND CUBAN UTOPIA
José B. Alvarez IV
The University of Georgia
Published online: December 15, 2016
Cuban cinema has been in the forefront of Latin American cultural production since the creation of the state sponsored Cuban Institute of the Arts and Cinematographic Industries (ICAIC) in March 1959. Cuban cinematography has produced an ideologically complex body of films that provide constructions of a gendered national subject that differs from the revolutionary discourse espoused by the state. However, despite the long tradition of filmic portrayal of women and its contribution to the national image, there exists an incongruent and obvious lack of self-representation by women in Cuban film. Only one woman, Sarah Gómez, has directed a full-length film, One Way or Another (1994), while two women directors, Ana Rodríguez and Mayra Vilasís, participate in the production of the short films that comprise Mujer Transparente [Transparent Woman] under the overall direction of Humberto Solas. The essay argues that Cuban directors have placed women in the protagonic plane in order to narrate history, thus producing a cinematic discourse that is limited with subjectivization, what Teresa de Lauretis calls “en-gendered” discourse, arguably a cinematographic entropy. Moreover, in the Cuban cinema, there is a disjunction between the rhetoric of the hegemonic patriarchal discourse and that which has been represented in a number of contestatory films. The essay dialogues with three films in particular: Daniel Díaz Torres’ Alicia en el pueblo de maravillas [Alice in Wonderland] (1990), Julio García Espinoza’s Reina y rey [Queen and King] (1994), and the five shorts that comprise Mujer Transparente (1990). The essay is based on an ongoing research project on Cuban filmmaking of the Revolution and its contribution to the reconstruction of national history.