Exploring Cuba's Abandoned Movie Theaters via Photographs

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(Cines De Cuba by Carolina Sandretto)

After the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1962, President John F. Kennedy made temporary embargoes and sanctions on Cuba permanent, many of which are still active today. That was the 60s and Cuba was a communist country under the protection of the Soviet Union so they could still get by. Once the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90s, Cuba didn't have anyone in its corner. Unable to trade with the US and no support from the former Soviet Union, the country fell on hard times.

And so did their cinemas. 

In 1953 Havana, Cuba had more movie theaters than Paris or New York. The whole country was home to 694 cinemas. Today only 19 remain.   

We often see pictures of the old American cars in Cuba, almost all of which were made before 1960, but sometimes we forget that art and entertainment can disappear just as fast. Italian photographer and social activist Maria Carolina Sandretto made it her mission to find out what happened to these theaters. She made a website and a book titled Cines de Cuba.  

The website is interactive and broken down by "Itineraries" where there different theaters in Cuba are broken down by Genre. 

  • THE TIME OF ART DECO
  • THE TIME OF COLONIAL
  • PHOTOGRAPHER'S FAVOURITE
  • TIME OF SOCIALISM

itineraries de cuba.pngWhen you click on of the sections you get an interactive map of the whole country broken down by regions.

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Click on a region and you get a closer view of that area. Any location with a star on it is interactive and will take you to a picture and a story about the theater that's there like these. 

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Many of these images look like the remains of an abandoned society from a science fiction movie, and in many ways, they are just that. Abandoned remains of a different society. If you can't make it to Havana, check out Carolina Sandretto's book here