Although we conventionally talk about media in national terms, transnational media flows are extraordinarily common, and these transborder flows force us to face questions about the nature of our identities and culture. How do transnational media texts shape, maintain, our challenge our identities? Isn’t reasonable to think that our consumption of transnational texts at the very least unsettles our way of seeing ourselves in the world, our values, and sense of normalcy? Amaya has addressed these questions in journal articles and a couple of books, in particularly his first book, Screening Cuba: Film Criticism as Political Performance During the Cold War (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, Sept. 2010). This is first book-length comparative study of film reception, citizenship, and criticism in any two nations. It is also the first study that compares film cultures in the USA and in revolutionary Cuba. It is also one of a handful of studies documenting socialist and Third World influences on American political subjectivities. Because of these factors, this project fills a void in international media, film, and Latin American studies.
Screening Cuba compares the critical reception of four important post-revolutionary Cuban films by revolutionary writers in Cuba and leftist and feminist writers in the United States. Screening Cuba examines two sets of viewers and, consequently, two ways of enacting political dispositions and citizenship through film reception. One set is Cuban; the other set is American. Both sets include people who worked in institutional settings—Cuban and American film reviewers, writers and intellectuals—and both sets are analyzed in relation to how they interpreted the same Cuban films. These films are, in chronological order: Memories of Underdevelopment, (1968) directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea; Lucia (1968), directed by Humberto Solás (both Memories and Lucia were released in the United States in the early 1970s); One Way or Another (1974) directed by Sara Gómez; and Portrait of Teresa, (1979) directed by Pastor Vega (these films were shown in the United States in the early 1970s and during the first half of the 1980s). The contrast between each set of viewers illuminates two ways of being political; it also illustrates how institutional and political cultures shape the viewer’s self-perception and his or her sense of autonomy.