Roots and Routes: Cuban Cinemas of the Diaspora in the 21st Century
Zarza Blanco, Zaira
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This thesis is one of three components of the doctoral project Roots and Routes: Cuban Cinemas of the Diaspora in the 21st Century. The project also comprises an archive of materials on Cuban diasporic cinemas in the post-2000 era and a travelling showcase —animated by the archive— which took place in Canada in March-April, 2015. The written text is formed by six chapters and several attachments that present information on the films, filmmakers, program notes and other data relevant to the curated events. The thesis is motivated by two main research questions. 1) In what ways has the diaspora experience transformed Cuban filmmaking practices? 2) How have the aesthetic decisions and economic processes of film production in the diaspora placed young Cuban filmmakers vis-à-vis the hegemonic structures of the nation-state, both in the homeland and the host societies? In answering those questions, this study offers insights into the new forms of mobility, politics of place and gendered/racial identities that emerge in the cultural landscapes of contemporary Cuban diasporas. Since young diasporic filmmakers contest the previous notion of Cuban “national cinema,” the hypothesis states that audiovisual producers in the diaspora have indeed transformed the way in which Cuban film is conceived and understood today, on and off the Island. The project had three main goals: to gather and organize information on Cuban diasporic filmmaking; to promote this form of cinema among Canadian audiences through a travelling showcase; and to generate scholarship on this topic that had not been considered by systematic academic investigations to date. The research presents a model of autoethnographic curatorial work and considerations that may be of help to future students developing project-based thesis. One of the fundamental contributions of Roots and Routes… is how it transcended the borders of the academic context and succeeded in engaging local communities in different sites.