Royal Holloway Conference Abstracts Monday 18th April 2016

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Royal Holloway Conference

Monday 18th April 2016
Panel 1a) Education
El niño nuevo? Childhood and nation in three recent Cuban films”, Dunja Fehimovic (University of Cambridge)
Echoing a wider trend within Latin American cinema, over the last decade Cuban films have highlighted the child as both a new protagonist in and target audience for the island’s production. Juan Carlos Cremata’s Viva Cuba (2005) seemed to mark the beginning of the tendency, and has certainly been the most internationally successful of these films, whilst Habanastation (Ian Padrón, 2011) was envisaged as an unofficial, indirect sequel. Most recently, Ernesto Daranas’ Conducta (2014) has sparked fervent debate about education, values and marginality in Cuba, sweeping up multiple awards along the way. In all of these films, the figure of the child is foregrounded in order to explore issues of morality and citizenship which, in Cuba’s political context, inevitably reflect on socialist codes of conduct and most specifically on Che Guevara’s model of the Hombre nuevo, or ‘new man’. By comparing the representations of the child protagonists in these three films, I will analyse how they establish the child as a model of moral conduct or good behaviour, and how this model subsequently reflects on the state of the nation as a whole. Recalling the symbolic weight of the figure of the child in Revolutionary Cuba and with specific reference to Guevara’s ‘new man’, I will suggest that these child protagonists represent a ‘niño nuevo’ – an updated model of citizenship for contemporary Cuba.

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