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.