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Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives logo

Guide to the Estela and Ernesto Bravo Film and Video Collection TAM.616

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2596

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Jan Hilley, with the assistance of Heather Mulliner.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 27, 2022
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Heather Mulliner to include item-level description of 225 videos Edited by Amy C. Vo to include item-level description of 42 videos Edited by Jasmine Sykes-Kunk and Amy C. Vo to include item-level description of 32 videos Edited by Rachel Mahre to reflect digitization of videos Edited by Weatherly Stephan to reflect deaccession of moldy, digitized videos Updated by Anna Björnsson McCormick to record digitization, decontamination, isolation, and deaccession of videos treated by a vendor.  , December 2018 , May 2020 , October 2020 , February 2021 , June 2021 , July 2022

Scope and Content Note

The Estela and Ernesto Bravo Film and Video Collection (dates 1959-2014) contains interviews, footage, and full-length films from documentaries created by filmmaker Estela Bravo between the 1980s and early 2000s. The collection contains over 1,300 video tapes and film reels recorded by Bravo throughout her career. In addition to full-length documentaries and video footage, the collection also contains a small amount of ephemera, correspondence, and documentation related to the promotion and licensing of Bravo's films. Footage in this collection consists of interviews with political leaders and celebrities; scenes of important events, marches, demonstrations, and performances; battle footage; historical clips from Cuba's State Council archives; speeches by Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, and others; and background footage (b-roll) used in finished films. This footage was primarily recorded on U-matic and Betacam video tapes, and produced on film reels, VHS, and DVD for screening and distribution.

Many of Bravo's films focus broadly on Cuba after the revolution and its relationship with the United States and other countries. Bravo's films address other issues related to Latin American politics and culture, exploring topics such as: children abducted during Argentina's "Dirty War;" Chile under the Pinochet dictatorship; the assassination of Maurice Bishop in Grenada; social and economic problems caused by Latin American debts owed to the United States; struggles to end apartheid in South Africa; and a 1984 concert featuring Cuban musicians Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes in Buenos Aires.

The most extensive footage comes from Fidel: The Untold Story and its follow-up  Anecdotes about Fidel. There are more than 400 video recordings related to these films. Among the highlights of this material are interviews with notable individuals including: Arthur Schlesinger, Ramsey Clark, George McGovern, Alice Walker, Harry Belafonte, Philip Agee, Ted Turner, Edward Heath, Jorge Risquet, Ricardo Alarcón, Vilma Espín, and Angela Davis. These videos also contain interviews with supporters of the anti-Castro movement including counter-revolutionaries like Orlando Bosch.

Other films featured prominently in this collection address the social consequences of tensions between the United States and Cuba. These films include Americans in Cuba, documenting American who moved to Cuba after the revolution; The Cuban Excludables, which follows Cubans who came to the United States during the Mariel boatlift and the conditions they faced while being detained by US authorities; and  Miami-Havana, a film that explores the consequences of travel and communication restrictions between Cuba and the United States.

Not all of Bravo's films are represented in the collection. Footage from some films may be more complete than others, while footage from other films does not appear in the collection at all. In other cases video footage is duplicated in multiple series. Bravo frequently reused older footage in follow-up documentaries to provide background and context for a subsequent film. For example, footage from the 1985 film, Missing Children, also appears in the 2007 documentary,  Who Am I?: The Found Children of Argentina. Additionally, there are many interviews that exceed the duration of a single tape, and are recorded on multiple tapes. These interviews will contain pauses and breaks in the conversation to allow the videographer to change tapes.

The collection also contains footage that was not included in any feature film. These recordings may have been shot with a potential film in mind, but were never included in any completed feature. The Bravos also recorded special events or interviews with notable individuals, even though they did not intend to include them in a specific documentary. These recordings include an interview with Mikis Theodrakis, a Greek songwriter/composer and supporter of Fidel Castro, and an interview with Brazilian Communist Party leader Luis Carlos Prestes (1898-1990). There is also some footage which is unidentified or has not yet been associated with a specific feature film.

Between 2014 and 2015, two additional donations of periodicals, programs, playbills, transcripts, and related items were added to the collection. They may be found in Series XXX: Ephemera and Publications. Transcripts and partial transcripts from this donation relate to the film Fidel: The Untold Story and have been added to Series VIII. Transcripts contain interviews of some individuals for which there is no film footage, including Walter Sisulu and Kalema Moutante. A small set of film reels, donated in 2014, contain personal family footage of Estela and Ernesto Bravo with friends and family members, most of which were filmed in 1958. These reels are arranged in Series XXXI: Estela and Ernesto Bravo Family Films.

Many of the dates in this collection have been estimated based on the content and release date of the film. Specific dates are listed if they appeared on the cassette annotations, while others were inferred from the film's content. The word "Bump" appears in several titles, and was used by Estela Bravo to indicate clips selected from a previous, longer, piece of footage.


This collection is divided into 32 series by documentary film or by record type. The first 28 series are arranged in alphabetical order by film title. Within each series, materials are grouped by genre. Completed documentaries and edited fragments of documentaries are listed at the beginning of each series. They are followed by interview footage, transcripts, and other papers related to coordinating interviews. These materials are listed in alphabetical order by interviewee last name. Interviews are followed by general footage, film clips, and papers. In some cases, footage is listed in alphabetical order by title, but many of these clips have not been fully arranged.

Series XXIX: Independent and Unidentified Footage, 1980-1994 contains interviews and footage that is not associated with a specific documentary feature or cannot be identified with a completed film. This footage is not grouped by genre, and is arranged in alphabetical order by title or interviewee last name.

Materials in Series XXX: Collected Ephemera and Publications are arranged alphabetically by title or by general topic. Additional films related to Estela and Ernesto Bravo's personal lives are arranged in Series XXXI: Estela and Ernesto Bravo Family Films. Several of these films were originally numbered by the donors. Numbered items are listed in sequential order, while films that were not numbered are listed in alphabetical order by title.

Series XXXII: Gema de Cuba, Estela and Ernesto Bravo's most recent documentary, was added to the collection in 2017 and has not been incorporated into the existing arrangement.