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On the Edge of the Screen: Film Culture and Practices of Noncommercial Cinema in Cuba (1948-1966)


On the Edge of the Screen: Film Culture and Practices of Noncommercial Cinema in Cuba (1948-1966)

Rozsa, Irene (2019) On the Edge of the Screen: Film Culture and Practices of Noncommercial Cinema in Cuba (1948-1966). PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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The place of Cuban cinema in the film-historical canon is limited to the history of the Cuban film institute (ICAIC) founded in the early days of the Cuban Revolution, in 1959. This dissertation investigates the island’s film culture in the years prior, commonly referred to as the republican period, to establish its contributions to post-revolutionary developments. I examine the practices of film culture and noncommercial cinema in Cuba, tracing their evolution from 1948 to 1966. I research the development of the film course offered at the University of Havana and explain the formative impact of film education on future film promoters, film critics, and filmmakers. I also document the distinct cine club communities constituted around non-theatrical film exhibition, elucidating their role in the diversification of the 1950s film public and on the configuration of an identifiable art cinema audience. In addition, I provide background on the history of amateur filmmaking on the island. Furthermore, I analyze the elements that contributed to ICAIC’s hegemonic position within the country’s cultural landscape, including their acquisition of material assets, their privileged access to mediated forms of public discourse, and their concerted strategies for transforming popular taste. I argue that post-revolutionary institutionalized film culture was built upon its pre-revolutionary antecedents, and that the process of audience diversification that started in the 1950s persisted despite the policies implemented in the 1960s to centralize film exhibition and programming, to emphasize ideological interpretation in film criticism, and to restrict amateur filmmaking. My investigation demonstrates the gradual formation of a new two-tier system in which both elite and unsophisticated inclinations continued to coexist, and that resourceful amateurs found clandestine ways to make films outside of institutional channels.

This study contributes to Cuban film historiography by restoring continuity to the island’s cinematic past. I challenge perspectives that ignore the transnational exchanges and the modernizing forces at play during the late republican period. In adopting a more expansive conception of film history –one that is not strictly concerned with film production and the filmic text, but integrates exhibition, distribution, promotion, and knowledge dissemination– I establish multiple threads that connect pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary developments.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Rozsa, Irene
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Film and Moving Image Studies
Date:4 November 2019
Thesis Supervisor(s):Salazkina, Masha
Keywords:film history, film culture, film education, Cuban cinema, ICAIC, film exhibition, cine-clubs, amateur film, film criticism, noncommercial cinema, non-theatrical film, institutionalization, audience, Latin American cinema, transnational, film institutions
ID Code:986211
Deposited By: IRENE ROZSA
Deposited On:30 Jun 2021 15:04
Last Modified:01 Jan 2022 01:00
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