MoMA to Present Series on Cuban Censored Films


The Museum of Modern Art has announced the film series 'Cuban Cinema under Censorship,'  reviewing more than half a century of censorship in Cuban cinema, taking place March 9-11, and presented in conjunction with the exhibition 'Tania Bruguera: Untitled (Havana, 2000).'

Programmed by Dean Luis Reyes, the exhibition traces the origins of Cuban censorship to a kind of foundational moment: Orlando Jiménez Leal and Sabá Cabrera Infante’s PM (1961). This short film’s censorship by the Institute of Cuban Film was among the first delimitations of cultural policy under the nascent socialist regime led by Fidel Castro. Likewise, Conducta Impropia (Improper Conduct) (1983, Orlando Jiménez Leal, Néstor Almendros), though not produced in Cuba, was also banned in the country: the film denounced the systematic persecution and repression of the gay community and an intelligentsia who "maladjusted" to the requirements put in place by the Cuban authorities.

In the ensuing decades censorship by the Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry), or ICAIC, was usually “aired out” within the institution. But in the new century, with the emergence of cinema that was independent from institutions and the editorial criteria of the state, the list of censored or repressed works increased rapidly. Manuel Zayas’s Odd People Out (2004) complements the investigation begun by Improper Conduct from a documentary angle, while Carlos Lechuga’s Santa & Andrés (2016) does the same through fiction. The latter film was the subject of a public state veto, a rarity among recent productions.

Also featured in this series, Eliécer Jiménez’s Persona (2014), Miguel Coyula’s Nadie (Nobody) (2016), Juan Carlos Cremata’s Crematorio (Crematorium) (2013), Ricardo Figueredo and Anthony Bubaire’s Despertar (Awakening) (2011), and Marcelo Martin’s El tren de la linea norte (The Train on the Northern Railway) (2015) represent just some of the films—mostly documentaries—that have been subject to state vetoes and suffered from political suppression in the last decade.