chapter  4
Cuban Cinema: A Case of Accelerated Underdevelopment: Michael Chanan
ByMICHAEL CHANAN
Pages 16

There was an island in the sun. They had a revolution. They created a new society, dedicated to social justice-and to making fi lms (and music and other arts). It would be a new kind of cinema, which would transcend both the formulaic escapism of the Hollywood genre movie, and the bourgeois individualism of the Western European art fi lm. It might be low budget and imperfect, like the country’s economy, but it would vindicate cinema by revolutionizing the modes of both production and representation, thus freeing up the imagination and bringing a fresh eye to the social and historical reality in front of the camera. Remarkably little of the new Cuban cinema was straightforward propaganda. The operative principle was the dictum uttered by Fidel Castro in his speech of 1961 known as “Words to the Intellectuals”: “Within the Revolution, everything; against it, nothing.” [1] Cuban fi lmmakers would question whether reality as it appeared on the screen was a true reality, and whether that reality was good enough. Cinema is the perfect place for this kind of aspiration. Not only the foremost popular art of the twentieth century but in transcending social distinctions like class and culture, cinema is a form of collective dreaming that deposits its images in the cultural subconscious of the whole society.