Cuban film posters offer something extra

Ken Foster
2 min readNov 6, 2018

As part of my FundMyTravel campaign to bring pet resources to Havana, I have been offering to bring a Cuban film poster to sponsors at the $60 level. But it occurred to me that unless you’ve been to Cuba, or visited the Pasadena exhibition of Cuban film posters last year, you would have no idea what I’m really talking about, or why they are so special.

This poster for La Naranja Mecanica (A Clockwork Orange) is a great example. Posters in Cuba are created by silk screen artists, and their interpretations are colorful, surreal and, frankly, sometimes seem have little to do with the actual movie — but that makes them even more fascinating. As explained in a story in LAist, “First of all, the movie stars weren’t so important to them. What was important to them was what the film was about — the concept. But it was also a very interesting, creative way of teaching visual literacy. Because you had to look at these posters and you had to figure them out. And they do describe, in symbols and images, what these films are about.”

These posters are still sold on the streets in Havana, and at the Habana International Film Festival, which celebrates its 40th Anniversary in December. The Festival shows films from all around the world, including the US, which may surprise many who assume that Cubans have no access or interest in the US. (On my last trip there, Cuban friends were shocked that I didn’t know they names to all the characters in The Secret Life of Pets; they did.). Carol Wells, in the Los Angeles Times, says, “I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, ‘I didn’t know they were allowed to watch American films in Cuba. I didn’t know they wanted to!… We know so little about Cuba; they know so much more about us than we know about them.”

You see more examples, and read more about the history of this uniquely Cuban form, at the following links:

Hollywood in Havana

How Cuba’s Movie Posters Influenced it’s Revolutionary Art

Art of Cuba

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Ken Foster

Author of fiction and non-fiction; dog guy; bad boxer. New book, City of Dogs, is just out now from Avery/Penguin.