Cuba has a rich history of filmmaking, producing a diverse range of cinematic works over the years. From early propaganda films to groundbreaking experimental works, Cuban cinema has played an important role in both the artistic and political landscape of the country.

One of the most influential periods in Cuban cinema was the “New Cuban Cinema” movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

This movement was characterized by a commitment to social realism and a rejection of Hollywood-style commercialism, and produced some of the most iconic and groundbreaking films in Cuban history.

Best Cuban Movies

Today, Cuban cinema continues to evolve and thrive, with a new generation of filmmakers exploring new themes and styles. From intimate dramas to historical epics, Cuban movies offer a unique window into the culture, history, and politics of this fascinating country.

1. Una noche (One Night, 2012)

“Una noche” (One Night) is a 2012 Cuban film directed by Lucy Mulloy. The film follows the story of three young friends, Raul, Elio, and Lila, who live in Havana and dream of escaping to Miami.

The film explores their struggle to survive in a harsh and oppressive environment, and their determination to pursue a better life.

The film was praised for its raw and honest portrayal of life in contemporary Cuba, and its powerful exploration of themes such as poverty, immigration, and the search for freedom.

It was also praised for the strong performances of the cast of young actors, particularly Dariel Arrechaga in the role of Raul.

“Una noche” premiered at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival, where it won several awards, including the Best Actor Award for Arrechaga.

The film was also shown at the Tribeca Film Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival, among others.

It is considered to be one of the most important films to come out of contemporary Cuban cinema, and a powerful and emotional exploration of the human experience in a challenging and difficult environment.

Una Noche
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Javier Nunez Florian, Maria Adelaida Mendez Bonet, Anailin de la Rua de la Torre (Actors)
  • Lucy Mulloy (Director) - Sandy Perez Aguila (Producer)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

2. Viva Cuba (2005)

“Viva Cuba” is a 2005 Cuban drama film directed by Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti and Iraida Malberti Cabrera.

The movie tells the story of two young friends, Malú and Jorgito, who embark on a journey across Cuba in search of a way to prevent Malú from leaving the country with her mother.

   

The film’s plot centers around the conflict between Malú’s mother and Jorgito’s mother. Malú’s mother plans to leave Cuba with her daughter and start a new life in another country, while Jorgito’s mother objects to this plan and tries to stop Malú’s mother from leaving.

Malú and Jorgito, who are inseparable friends, decide to run away and find Malú’s father, who lives in another part of Cuba. The two embark on a dangerous journey across the country, encountering a variety of obstacles along the way.

Through the eyes of these two young protagonists, the film offers a poignant and insightful look into the complex social and political realities of Cuba.

The movie was praised for its strong performances, its vivid portrayal of Cuban culture and society, and its ability to explore difficult themes in a way that is accessible to audiences of all ages. “Viva Cuba” remains a beloved classic of Cuban cinema to this day.

Viva Cuba (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tarrau Broche, Milo Avila, Larisa Vega Alamar (Actors)
  • Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti (Director) - Juan Carlos Cremata (Writer) - Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky...
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

3. Conducta (Behavior, 2014)

“Conducta” (English title: “Behavior”) is a 2014 Cuban drama film directed by Ernesto Daranas. The film tells the story of Chala, a troubled and neglected 11-year-old boy living in Havana with his alcoholic mother.

Chala’s life is changed when his beloved teacher, Carmela, is forced to retire due to her age, and is replaced by a strict new teacher who does not understand or appreciate Chala’s unique talents.

“Conducta” explores themes of poverty, education, and the importance of human connection. The film has been praised for its realistic and nuanced portrayal of life in contemporary Cuba, as well as its powerful performances from the cast, particularly the young actor who plays Chala.

“Conducta” has received numerous awards and nominations, and is considered one of the best Cuban films of recent years.

Conducta
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Alina Rodriguez, Yuliet Cruz, Armando Miguel Gómez (Actors)
  • Ernesto Daranas (Director) - Ernesto Daranas (Writer) - Danilo León (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

4. Fresa y chocolate (1993)

“Fresa y chocolate” (English: “Strawberry and Chocolate”) is a Cuban film released in 1993, directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío.

The film tells the story of a friendship that develops between Diego, a gay artist and political dissident, and David, a young university student who is initially prejudiced against Diego’s lifestyle and political beliefs.

The film explores themes of tolerance, acceptance, and freedom of expression in a society that is highly conservative and repressive.

   

It is a powerful and moving portrayal of the struggle for individual rights and freedoms, and the human connection that can transcend political and social barriers.

The film was a critical and commercial success, both in Cuba and abroad, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It features powerful performances by its lead actors, Jorge Perugorría and Vladimir Cruz, and has become a classic of Cuban cinema.

Overall, “Fresa y chocolate” is a must-see film for anyone interested in exploring the rich history and culture of Cuban cinema.

It offers a powerful and poignant commentary on the struggle for individual rights and freedoms, and a moving portrayal of the transformative power of friendship and human connection.

Strawberry And Chocolate (Fresa Y Chocolate) (1993 Film)
  • Audio CD – Audiobook
  • Milan Records (Publisher)

5. Retrato de Teresa (1979)

“Retrato de Teresa” is a Cuban drama film directed by Pastor Vega. It tells the story of Teresa (Daisy Granados), a woman who realizes that her life is not fulfilling and decides to break away from the traditional gender roles and expectations that society has imposed on her.

The film explores themes of gender, identity, and societal expectations in a post-revolutionary Cuba. It received critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 30th Berlin International Film Festival.

“Retrato de Teresa” is considered a landmark in Cuban cinema for its portrayal of a strong, independent female protagonist who defies traditional gender norms and expectations.

   

It is also notable for its realistic portrayal of everyday life in Cuba during the 1970s, capturing the struggles and aspirations of working-class people in the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution.

6. Lucia (1968)

“Lucia” is a Cuban drama film released in 1968, directed by Humberto Solás. The film is set in three different periods of Cuban history – the late 19th century, the 1930s, and the 1960s – and follows the stories of three different women, all named Lucia.

Through their experiences, the film explores themes of gender, class, and political struggle in Cuba. The first Lucia is a peasant girl who joins the fight for independence against Spanish colonial rule.

The second Lucia is a middle-class woman in the 1930s, struggling to find her place in a rapidly changing society. The third Lucia is a modern urban woman, navigating the challenges of the Cuban Revolution and its aftermath.

Through its innovative storytelling and powerful performances, “Lucia” offers a nuanced and thought-provoking exploration of Cuban history and society.

The film was highly acclaimed upon its release and has since become a classic of Cuban cinema, widely regarded as one of the greatest films in the country’s history.

Lucia
  • Raquel Revuelta (Actor)
  • Humberto Solas (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NC-17 (Adults Only)

7. Suite Habana (Havana Suite, 2013)

“Suite Habana” (2003) is a Cuban documentary film directed by Fernando Pérez. It’s a portrait of Havana and its people, shot over the course of 24 hours. The film features a series of vignettes that capture the lives of ordinary Cubans as they go about their daily routines.

The film is known for its lyrical and poetic style, and for its intimate portrayal of life in Havana. It was praised for its beautiful cinematography and its sensitive treatment of the subject matter.

The film was a critical and commercial success, both in Cuba and internationally, and won several awards, including the Grand Coral – First Prize at the 2003 Havana Film Festival.

However, “Havana Suite” (2013) is not a known film, and I’m not able to provide information about it. If you have any other questions or if you meant a different movie, please let me know.

Havana Suite [Region 2]
  • Havana Suite ( Suite Habana )
  • Havana Suite
  • Suite Habana
  • Heriberto Boroto, Iván Carbonell, Francisco Cardet (Actors)
  • Fernando Pérez (Director) - Havana Suite ( Suite Habana ) (Producer)

8. De cierta manera (One Way or Another, 1974)

“De cierta manera” (One Way or Another) is a 1974 Cuban film directed by Sara Gómez. The film follows the lives of two young people, Yolanda and Mario, living in Havana during the early years of the Cuban Revolution.

Yolanda is a young teacher who has recently moved to Havana from the countryside. She becomes involved in a relationship with Mario, a construction worker who is part of a group of young men working to build a new housing project in the city.

Through the eyes of Yolanda and Mario, the film explores the complex social and political realities of Cuba during this time period.

It depicts the efforts of the government to improve the lives of ordinary citizens, as well as the challenges and contradictions of life in a socialist society.

The film was groundbreaking for its portrayal of the experiences of Afro-Cubans, women, and other marginalized groups during the revolution. It also featured a non-linear narrative style and innovative use of music and dance.

Despite the acclaim it received, “De cierta manera” was banned by the Cuban government shortly after its release. However, it has since been rediscovered and is now recognized as a classic of Cuban cinema.

The Cinema of Sara Gómez: Reframing Revolution (New Directions in National Cinemas)
  • Hardcover Book
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 440 Pages - 07/06/2021 (Publication Date) - Indiana University Press (Publisher)

9. El Benny (2006)

“El Benny” is a 2006 Cuban biographical film directed by Jorge Luis Sánchez. The film tells the story of Benny Moré, a legendary Cuban musician and singer who rose to fame in the 1950s and became one of the most influential figures in Cuban music history.

“El Benny” is not a traditional biopic, but instead focuses on a few key moments in Benny Moré’s life, particularly his struggles with alcoholism and his relationships with the women in his life.

The film uses a non-linear narrative structure and a blend of documentary and fictional elements to create a rich and complex portrait of Benny Moré’s life and legacy.

The film has been praised for its strong performances, particularly by the actor who plays Benny Moré, and for its vivid and authentic portrayal of Cuban music and culture.

“El Benny” has won numerous awards, both in Cuba and internationally, and is considered one of the most important Cuban films of the 21st century.

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10. Las doce sillas (The Twelve Chairs, 1962)

“Las doce sillas” (English: “The Twelve Chairs”) is a classic Soviet comedy film released in 1962, directed by Leonid Gaidai. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov.

The plot of the film revolves around the misadventures of a former aristocrat named Ostap Bender and his sidekick, the young engineer Kisa Vorobyaninov, as they embark on a quest to find a fortune hidden in one of twelve chairs.

The chairs were expropriated from the aristocracy after the Bolshevik Revolution, and the fortune is believed to have been hidden in one of them.

The film is renowned for its sharp wit, clever writing, and hilarious performances by its lead actors, particularly Andrei Mironov and Archil Gomiashvili.

It is a satire of the Soviet society of the time, highlighting the absurdity and hypocrisy of the system, as well as the resilience and ingenuity of the human spirit.

“Las doce sillas” has become a beloved classic of Soviet and Russian cinema, and has been remade and adapted in various forms over the years.

It is a must-see film for anyone interested in the history and culture of Soviet cinema, as well as fans of classic comedy and satire.

3 Characteristics of Cuban Movies

Strong political and social commentary: Many Cuban films focus on political and social issues, reflecting the country’s history of revolution and political upheaval. Cuban cinema often deals with themes such as poverty, inequality, social justice, and the struggle for independence.

Unique cultural identity: Cuban movies often showcase the country’s distinct cultural identity, featuring music, dance, and other forms of cultural expression that are unique to Cuba.

The films often celebrate the country’s Afro-Caribbean heritage and highlight the contributions of Cuban artists and intellectuals to the country’s cultural legacy.

Emphasis on artistry and experimentation: Cuban filmmakers are known for their creativity and willingness to experiment with different cinematic styles and techniques.

Many Cuban movies feature innovative storytelling methods, unconventional camera work, and other techniques that challenge traditional cinematic conventions. Cuban cinema is often praised for its artistic merit and its contributions to the global cinematic landscape.

3 Reasons To Watch Cuban Movies

Unique Cultural Perspective: Cuban movies offer a unique cultural perspective, as they reflect the history, society, and values of the Cuban people.

From the vibrant streets of Havana to the rural landscapes of the countryside, Cuban films showcase the diversity and complexity of Cuban life, and provide insight into the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Variety of Genres: Cuban cinema encompasses a wide range of genres, from comedy to drama to documentary.

Whether you’re interested in historical epics or contemporary romantic comedies, there is a Cuban movie for every taste. Cuban filmmakers are known for their creativity and experimentation, and often push the boundaries of traditional filmmaking conventions.

Social and Political Relevance: Many Cuban movies explore social and political issues that are relevant not only to Cuba, but to the world at large.

These films provide a nuanced and complex perspective on topics such as race, class, gender, and politics, and offer a powerful critique of the inequalities and injustices that exist in society.

Watching Cuban movies can broaden your understanding of these important issues and challenge your preconceptions about the world.

Best Cuban Movies – Wrap Up

Here is a summary of some of the best Cuban movies:

“Memories of Underdevelopment” (1968) – A classic of Cuban cinema, this film explores the life of a bourgeois writer who remains in Cuba after the revolution.

“Lucía” (1968) – This film is an experimental trilogy exploring the lives of three women at different periods in Cuban history.

“Strawberry and Chocolate” (1993) – A groundbreaking film that explores homosexuality and intolerance in revolutionary Cuba.

“La Bella del Alhambra” (1989) – This musical drama follows the rise and fall of a talented singer in pre-revolutionary Cuba.

“Una Noche” (2012) – This drama follows the story of three young Cubans who dream of escaping the island to start a new life in Miami.

“Vampires in Havana” (1985) – This animated film is a hilarious satire of the Cuban Revolution, featuring a group of vampires who attempt to take over the country.

“Fresa y Chocolate” (1993) – This film explores the relationship between a gay artist and a straight communist student in 1970s Cuba.

These films represent some of the best works in Cuban cinema, showcasing the country’s unique culture, history, and political landscape.