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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Darien Sanchez-Nicolas, Film and Moving Image Studies

Cinematic Voyages: Québécois Transnational Filmmaking and Cuban Domesticity

Date & time
Monday, November 28, 2022 (all day)

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


The phenomenon of transnational cinema is inescapably linked to global mobility and the international tourism industry. Analysis of film and tourism as complicit planetary industries has predominantly focused on their mutually beneficial synergies and the incontestability of their dynamics. In conversation with scholarship on transnational film studies, tourism studies, and film and media ethnography, this dissertation makes a critical intervention at the intersection of film and tourism by locating the place of Cuban domesticity in transnational films originating from Québec but produced on the island with the assistance of private domestic spaces. More precisely, this investigation is concerned with Québécois feature films that directly address the issue of international tourism to the island while proposing alternatives to both translocal filmmaking and touristic practices. I investigate the involvement of domestic hospitality businesses in Cuba (paladares, private restaurants located in family households, and casas particulares, bed-and-breakfast-type hostels) as unofficial partners in transnational film productions between Québec and Cuba, namely in the films All you can eat Buddha (Ian Lagarde, 2017), Cuba Merci Gracias (Alex B. Martin, 2018) and Sur les toits Havane (Pedro Ruiz, 2019). I contend that these films constitute cinematic voyages, i.e., the intuitive application of entrepreneurial tactics to leisure and cultural travels, personal affective relations, and domestic spaces and activities in Cuba towards the completion of independent transnational film projects.

This research is guided by three main questions: what is the role of Cuban domesticity in Québécois transnational film projects? How do these assemblages challenge the exploitative, colonial features baked into the traditional relationships between global tourism and media industries? Relatedly, how do they modify transnational film and tourism practices along the south-north divide becoming agents of anti-colonial critique and cultural and economic collaboration? Each chapter foregrounds Cuban domesticity in the different capacities it interacts with foreign film and media productions originating from Québec. The first chapter traces the antecedents of these practices and how domesticity appears as an infrastructure and thematic preoccupation that propitiates grassroots forms of cultural diplomacy based predominantly on the creative labor of migrant women. The second chapter examines the flexibility of casas particulares in Cuba as they develop skills, adapt their spaces, and employ local knowledges and workforces to meet the needs of foreign film enterprises. I contend that such flexibility is a surplus of performing multiple gestures of transborder and transcultural, gendered identifications, acts of solidarity and material care between otherwise unrelated laboring subjects working on location. In the third chapter, the domestic is the privileged space for a Québécois road movie to illustrate the search for belonging and stability that is part of the road genre, therefore turning the domestic into a gendered transnational social space with a matrifocal character. The fourth chapter argues that the process of Latinx-Québécois transnational filmmaking exists in a continuum with the spectral position imposed by the Cuban socialist regime on homosexual identities, transcultural/multiracial affective and sexual arrangements, private tourism venues, and para-legal domestic practices. I contend that latinidad/latinité in Québec and queer/alternative domesticities in Cuba appear as translocal objects negotiated and refashioned through a distinctive Afro-Queer-Caribbean positionality against their respective hostile environments.

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