From Havana to Hollywood examines the presence or absence of Black resistance to slavery in feature films produced in either Havana or Hollywood—including Gillo Pontecorvo’s Burn!, neglected masterpieces by Cuban auteurs Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Sergio Giral, and Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave. Philip Kaisary argues that, with rare exceptions, the representation of Black agency in Hollywood has always been, and remains, taboo. Contrastingly, Cuban cinema foregrounds Black agency, challenging the ways in which slavery has been misremembered and misunderstood in North America and Europe. With powerful, richly theorized readings, the book shows how Cuban cinema especially recreates the past to fuel visions of liberation and asks how the medium of film might contribute to a renewal of emancipatory politics today.

Philip Kaisary is the 2023–2025 Ruth and Mark Phillips Professor of Cultural Mediations and Associate Professor in the Department of Law and Legal Studies, the Department of English Language and Literature, and the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture at Carleton University. He is the author of The Haitian Revolution in the Literary Imagination: Radical Horizons, Conservative Constraints.