Sara Gómez – De cierta manera AKA One Way or Another (1977)

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Here is a revolutionary film: dialectical in form and content, humble in the face of real human experience, proposing no final answers except the unending struggle of a people to make something out of what history has made of them. De cierta manera is that powerful hybrid—the fictional documentary set to a tropical beat—for which the cinema of revolutionary Cuba is justifiably famous. In this instance, the documentary deals with the destruction of slum housing and the struggle against the culture of marginality generated in such slums through the creation of a new housing project (Miraflores) and an accompanying educational program. The fictional embodiment of this historical process is seen in the clash of attitudes between Mario (a product of the slums), his lover Yolanda (a teacher who has come to Miraflores to help integrate such marginal elements into the revolution), and his friend Humberto (a fun-loving slacker). In the course of telling these stories, and others, De cierta manera demolishes the categories of fiction and documentary, insisting that both forms are equally mediated by the intention of the filmmaker, and that both thus require a critical stance. Continue reading Sara Gómez – De cierta manera AKA One Way or Another (1977)

Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt – Havana Motor Club (2015)

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Reforms have offered opportunity in Cuba but the children of the Revolution are unsure of the best route forward. For a half-dozen drag racers, this means last-minute changes to their beloved American muscle cars, as they prepare for the first sanctioned race in Cuba since 1960. Punctuated by a lively Cuban soundtrack, Havana Motor Club offers a fascinating glimpse at the resilience and ingenuity of the competitive spirit. Continue reading Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt – Havana Motor Club (2015)

Raoul Ruiz – El realismo socialista AKA Socialist Realism (1973)

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Quote:
A people’s court dictates that a laborer kept some tools for himself and thus deserves derision. “But, can’t we improve?” he asks, without blushing, at the moment they decide his expulsion. The story of the laborer that becomes more and more conservative runs along with another one about a conservative publicist who thinks he can foresee a solution by embracing the revolutionary cause; and what relates both reverse paths is Raúl Ruiz’s systemic pleasure for paradoxes. El realismo socialista is not a politic film but a film about politics, rough and uncomfortable in its will to demolish mythologies at the time they were being generated. These 70s Ruiz is showing are not only not glorious, but he’s also guessing they never will be, almost prophesizing the end of that (fake) utopia, all in this film that works as a parallel story to the great Palomita blanca. Oscillating between documentary record and fiction –the concept key reveals itself, or closes the film’s door, towards the end–, and with a notorious use of improvisation, Ruiz seems to confirm what he once said: “The problem with an iron script is that it gets rusty”. Continue reading Raoul Ruiz – El realismo socialista AKA Socialist Realism (1973)

Tomás Gutiérrez Alea – Memorias del subdesarrollo AKA Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)

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Plot Synopsis
Sergio, a wealthy bourgeois aspiring writer, decides to stay in Cuba even though his wife and friends flee to Miami. Sergio looks back over the changes in Cuba, from the Castro Revolution to the missile crisis, the effect of living in an underdeveloped country, and his relations with his girlfriends Elena and Hanna. Memories of Underdevelopment is a complex character study of alienation during the turmoil of social changes. The film is told in a highly subjective point of view through a fragmented narrative that remembles the way memories function. Continue reading Tomás Gutiérrez Alea – Memorias del subdesarrollo AKA Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)

Tomás Gutiérrez Alea – Guantanamera (1995)

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In this satiric road movie from Cuba, Yoyita (Conchita Brando), a well-known singer living in Havana, travels with her niece Georgina (Mirta Ibarra), a college professor, to the village of her birth, where Yoyita is reunited with Candido (Raul Eguren), whom she loved as a young woman. When Yoyita and Candido meet for the first time in 50 years, they’re thrilled to discover that the flame of passion still burns within them; unfortunately, Yoyita is so thrilled that it gives her a heart attack, and she dies on the spot. Yoyita’s body must be transported back to Havana for burial, but while logic would dictate that Georgina should simply hire a hearse to make the journey, her husband, Adolfo (Carlos Cruz), a bureaucrat with more enthusiasm than common sense, has another idea — by transferring the body from one vehicle to another at the border of each province, the cost of fuel will be distributed more evenly along the route. No one much cares for this idea except Adolfo, but he has the law on his side, so Georgina, Candido, and Adolfo begin a long, slow journey back to Havana accompanied by truck drivers Ramon (Pedro Fernandez) and Mariano (Jorge Perugorria), who was Georgina’s student years ago. At every stop, the group meets a few of the people in each town (especially Mariano, who seems to have a girlfriend in every village in Cuba) and they share their thoughts on faith, politics, and love. Guantanamera was the final work from veteran Cuban director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea; he died before the film could be completed, so co-screenwriter Juan Carlos Tabió finished the film in his stead. Continue reading Tomás Gutiérrez Alea – Guantanamera (1995)

Santiago Álvarez – Now (1965)

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From Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art:
A powerful attack on American racialism, based entirely on newsreel materials and closely edited by Lena Horne’s rendition of ‘Now’. Documentary shots often provide symbolic statements: in this case, flag, stick, black boy, policeman, and faceless anonymity of both generalize an event. Continue reading Santiago Álvarez – Now (1965)