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For an Impossible Cinema: Cuban Documentaries

August 2017

As Cuba’s hard-pressed revolution is poised for change, we look back at the documentaries and experimental films of the 1960s-70s.

Series conceived by Museo Reina Sofía, in collaboration with Cinemateca de Cuba.

Introduction by Michael Chanan, season curator

For an Impossible Cinema: Cuban Documentaries


“Give me two photographs, a moviola and some music and I’ll make you a film”
Santiago Alvarez

Under the aegis of new film institute the ICAIC, enthusiastic young filmmakers went out onto the streets to chronicle the spirit of the times with fresh eyes. At the core of this season is the boldest innovator, Santiago Alvarez, who was in charge of the weekly newsreel, which he soon transformed with his own experimental montage-driven style of agitation and special brand of political satire, usually directed against US imperialism. Also included are four documentaries by Sara Gómez, the first woman to bring an Afro-Cuban sensibility to the screen, plus films by foreign filmmakers including Joris Ivens, Agnès Varda and Chris Marker, attracted by Cuba’s tropical socialism. This is not an excuse for nostalgia, but the rediscovery of a remarkable body of innovatory documentaries with attitude.


See our seniors’ free matinee of I Am Cuba.

Lola Calviño of the Cuban Cinemateca, and Chema González of Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid.

Reina Sofia

Cinemateca de Cuba


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