UnMade in Cuba (Carteles de Cine)

I was recently searching for work by Cuban graphic artist Giselle Monzón Calero and ran across a wonderful collection of Cuban film posters sponsored by the Special Collections Research Center at William & Mary Libraries: “UnMade in Cuba (Carteles de Cine).” This is part of a broader project in which W&M students helped share the works of Cuban film directors with a broad audience—collaborating to translate scripts, subtitle documentaries, and film interviews.

DESCRIPTION: Film posters generally draw attention to movies that have been projected on screens. These carteles de cine, however, reference “ghost films” that were never made. In showcasing Cuba’s rich cinema and vibrant graphic design traditions, these 53 images — captivating and colorful — pay homage to island creativity.  

Several of the films featured in UnMade in Cuba are by directors who have visited W&M — Fernando Pérez, Juan Carlos Cremata, Esteban Insausti, Humberto Solás, and Orlando Rojas. W&M students have helped share their works with a broad audience — collaborating to translate scripts, subtitle documentaries, and film interviews.

INTRODUCTION: When the Cuban Revolution shook the hemisphere in 1959, the new government instituted a reimagination of not only its society, but also its national representation, creating as its second act the ICAIC – the Cuban Film Institute. A new generation of Cuban film was born.

It is with this concept of rebirth that Agapito Martinez and Eduardo Marin envisioned two exhibits of posters for films not yet made: Ghost Posters, for films that stalled in their journey to the screen and Final Scenes, which brings together images that capture the unproduced ideas of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. What is a ghost? In our typical conception, a ghost refers to an unresolved presence trapped in time, unable to fulfill its purpose. In 1989, the fall of the Soviet Union brought the Special Period to Cuba. Cubans experienced a widespread scarcity of resources, from food to filmstock to paper for posters, the effects of which still persist.

But a common expression in Cuba is resolver – to find a way. Cubans have developed broader creative solutions for community wellbeing and the construction of a unified national identity. For filmmakers, this included diversifying production techniques, collaborating with international partners, and exploring new themes. Thus Cuban films live on in new ways.

GHOST POSTERS: Browse the complete poster collection at https://exhibits.libraries.wm.edu/cuba/exhibits/show/unmade-cuba/collection.html

Shown above is a poster by Giselle Monzón Calero.

Giselle Monzón studied at the Instituto Superior de Diseño in Havana. She works with a variety of cultural initiatives in theater, festivals, and film. The artist has won the Coral grand prize in the poster category of the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana on two occasions. Her posters have been included in collective and personal exhibitions in Cuba, Switzerland, France, Germany, and the United States. She has taught at both her alma mater and the University of Havana.

Read more about the collection at https://exhibits.libraries.wm.edu/cuba/exhibits/show/unmade-cuba/introduction.html

See the collection of ghost posters at https://exhibits.libraries.wm.edu/cuba/exhibits/show/unmade-cuba/collection.html.

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