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Cuban Film Restoration Project Launched at UCLA

The UCLA Film & Television Archive is partnering with Cuba’s national film archive to restore, exhibit and distribute pre-revolutionary Cuban cinema.

It’s the first collaboration between the Cinemateca de Cuba archive and a U.S. cultural institution.

Luciano Castillo, director of the archive, told Variety that the project is the first organized effort to preserve three decades of Cuban cimema from 1932 to 1960.

“We are in danger of losing many of these films if they’re not restored,” he said. “This effort is important to introduce these films to current and future generations.”

The preservation project is still at the research phase, according to Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Plans are for the new prints to be struck with English subtitles and for the restored films to be digitized.

Castillo said that possible candidates for restoration are a 1930 Cuban silent film “La Virgen de la Caridad” (“The Virgin of Charity”), directed by Ramon Peon, and 1954’s “Casta de Roble” (“Oak’s Caste”), directed by Manolo Alonso (pictured above).

The Cuban film preservation effort is part of a project dubbed Classic Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles (1932–1960), which will culminate in a three-month public film exhibition scheduled to screen in Los Angeles from October 2017 through December 2017. That will be followed by a touring exhibition featuring selected highlights and restored prints in North America.

The UCLA archive is also working with the Cineteca Nacional (Mexico) and the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires on the project to research and preserve pre-1960 Latin American films — an area that’s remained largely forgotten in general histories of cinema other than the Mexican films of Luis Bunuel. The archive notes that there were a wide array of Spanish-language theaters in downtown Los Angeles in the 1930s and 1940s and that Los Angeles was also a major production center for Spanish-language films.

The Classic Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles (1932–1960) project is being funded partly by the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time LA/LA initiative, described as an exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles of major artistic movements and contemporary artistic practices.

To date, the Getty Foundation has awarded grants to 40 museums for exhibition research for Pacific Standard Time LA/LA.

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