(Un)staging the city: Havana and the Music Film (2001-2005)

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By the late 1990s, so-called ‘authentic’ visual representations of Cuba, and specifically Havana, had acquired a ‘distinct aesthetic quality’ (Hernandez-Reguant 2009). This was the product of a proliferation of Cuban images on a global scale, presented predominantly by western image-makers, which threatened to suffocate arguably more realistic depictions of the island and its capital city. In order to explore this phenomenon, this article will discuss three music documentary films produced by western filmmakers: Our Manics in Havana (2001), Out of Exile (2005) and Simply Red – Cuba! (2005). This article argues that these filmic texts are emblematic of a type of spatial narration that confines the viewer to a restricted view of select tourist sites and sights in Havana, which are recognizable only as a result of the recurrence of pre-existing images that have continued to shape these locations in the global imaginary. In turn, by scrutinising the production, inscription and consumption of these different visual narratives, it will consider their respective representations of Havana, and propose that these films have contributed to the construction of a problematic, fetishistic, and ultimately reductive image of the city that bears little relation to the geographic real.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-91
Number of pages18
JournalHispanic Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2017

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