William & Mary Professor to Give Lecture on Cuban Film and Culture

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For decades, Stock and her students have studied the rich cultural history of art and cinema in Cuba. They are celebrating that culture in an exhibition of movie posters in Swem's Botetourt Gallery. (Courtesy Troy Davis/Swem)
For decades, Stock and her students have studied the rich cultural history of art and cinema in Cuba. They are celebrating that culture in an exhibition of movie posters in Swem’s Botetourt Gallery. (Courtesy Troy Davis/Swem)

College of William & Mary professor Ann Marie Stock will take her audience behind the scenes of Cuba’s vibrant film tradition at a lecture at the Sadler Center next week.

“Remix and Revolution in Cuba: Screening the Island’s Transformation through Cinema” will deal with the question of how Cubans imagine their world and how film has captured important aspects of their political culture over the past half century.

Stock, a professor of Hispanic studies and film and media studies, has traveled to Cuba more than 60 times in the past 27 years. She is the author of four books on Cuban cinema as well as co-creator of multiple media projects and recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a 2013 Plumeri Award.

Since she first visited Cuba as a doctoral student, Stock has “evolved into a one-woman diplomatic mission,” according to a recent article from William & Mary. She is now regarded as an international expert on Cuba and Cuban cinema and frequently accompanies undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, donors and Christopher Wren classes to Havana.

Over the course of those trips, Stock has witnessed first-hand how people’s preconceived notions meet up with their actual experience of Cuban culture.

“When some travelers arrive in Cuba without a great deal of preparation, they are shocked to see how vibrant the culture is, how happy many or most Cubans are, and those who are frustrated, it tends to be about economic factors and not about political factors,” Stock said. “They are surprised that many Cubans on the island are exceedingly proud of the revolutionary culture they’ve managed to build.”

In her research, Stock has chosen to focus on how media artists present Cuban people and places in film as a lens through which broader cultural, political and economic issues are tracked.

“The second decree of the new government, after what the Cubans call ‘the triumph of the revolution,’ was to establish a film institute,” Stock said. “The very beginning of the revolution, this point of origin, casts cinema as the quintessential cultural form that will demonstrate the accomplishments of the revolution. It will also help bring about those revolutionary values. Film and the revolution in Cuba grew up together.”

Next week’s lecture, which is part of the recently launched Tack Faculty Lecture Series, promises to illuminate the island’s transformation in recent decades and will draw on some of what is presented in Stock’s most recent book, On Location in Cuba: Street Filmmaking During Times of Transition.

This book focuses on the most recent generation of Cuban filmmakers who lived and worked in the period immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Though the U.S. and Cuba have been isolated from one another until recently, Stock considers art to be a bridge between the two cultures.

“By working in the cultural arena, individuals who might otherwise not want to hear anything about Cuba are drawn in,” Stock said. “People will ask, ‘How could that film be made in Cuba? That film is so critical!’ These are really important entrees for talking more about Cuba, for shaping a perspective that’s more nuanced.”

Stock’s lecture will take place at 7 p.m. March 31 in the Sadler Center Commonwealth Auditorium. It is free and open to the public and a reception will follow. Click here to RSVP.