Cine Cubano: Latin America’s Oldest Film Magazine

Cine Cubano: Latin America’s Oldest Film Magazine
The journal Cine Cubano is an essential resource for studying the rich history of both Cuban revolutionary cinema and Latin American cinema at large. It is now made available online for the first time. The more than two hundred issues (1960–2019) offer students and researchers unparalleled access to six decades of cutting-edge film theory, novel approaches to film making, and scores of film reviews. Scanned at the ICAIC film institute in Havana, Cuba, the present collection includes all 205 issues of the journal that have ever been published in print.

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In June 1960, less than nineteen months after the establishment of Cuba's revolutionary government, the first issue of Cine Cubano was published. Despite the turbulent times, it had a print-run of 20,000 copies and was launched as a monthly. The cover featured a photograph of ‘Rebeldes,’ the second episode of the movie Historias de la Revolución, which at the time was yet to be released. The new journal would become the longest ongoing film magazine of Latin America and continues to be published until today.

Cine Cubano is the official organ of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). Enacted by law on March 24, 1959, ICAIC was the first cultural body founded by the new government. With its clear desire for rupture, the institute needed a medium to disseminate its ideas.

Point Zero
In the editorial to the inaugural issue of Cine Cubano, ICAIC founder Alfredo Guevara (1925–2013) states that “creating from a Point Zero is the first revolutionary action taken in the field of art.” He then proceeds to define the characteristics of the new Cuban cinema: quality, artistic, national, nonconformist, affordable, and commercially and technically accomplished. In this context, the pages of the magazine welcomed new creators who were trained on the job; others joined from Cine Club Visión and the Nuestro Tiempo cultural society. The new magazine attracted renowned writers such as the critic René Jordán of Bohemia magazine, the young Fausto Canel, contributor to the film magazine Cine Guía, Héctor García Mesa, soon to be founding director of the Cinemateca de Cuba, and the Spaniard José Miguel García Ascot, who pioneered the clapperboard in an ICAIC production. Throughout the years, the invaluable stillmen of the ICAIC contributed their photographs to the journal.

The longest-lived film publication
More than sixty years have passed and Cine Cubano—despite varying its circulation, going through stages of irregular frequency, and ceasing publication twice (from mid-1974 to 1977 and from 1994 to 1997)—remains the longest-lived specialized film publication in Latin America. Its mission of integrating all the arts and give voice to the new Latin American cinema, a movement that was bursting with force, led the magazine at times to publish single-themed issues and, at other times, to ignore cinema altogether in favor of other art forms, such as the plastic arts.

It is noteworthy that in its first issues, Cine Cubano included the year and issue number, but later dispensed with this important piece of information. The first triple issue (23–25) deals with ICAIC itself and zooms in on the law that founded the institute. It also features texts about ICAIC’s different departments—the Cinemateca de Cuba, the cartoon department, and the ICAIC Latin American Newscast. It addition, it includes awards won by ICAIC until 1964 and interviews with the artistic staff. Issues 42–44 (1967) and 140 (1998) were published in Spanish and French.

Switch to online format
Since issue no. 134, Cine Cubano had a circulation of two thousand copies. As of issue no. 150 (2000), some significant changes were introduced, the main purpose of which was to devote more space to the cinema of all periods produced on the island, without foregoing reports on filming, interviews with filmmakers, and excerpts of scripts. Thanks to the boundless energy of Pablo Pacheco, who edited the journal from 2006 to 2019, Cine Cubano finally returned to its quarterly publication schedule. In 2020, the journal switched from a print to an online format. The present collection includes all 205 issues that have ever been published in print (1960–2019).

Luciano Castillo
Director, Cinemateca de Cuba

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Cine Cubano: Latin America’s Oldest Film Magazine, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2024 <http://primarysources.brillonline.com/browse/cine-cubano>