• Tomás Gutiérrez Alea – Las doce sillas AKA The Twelve Chairs (1962)

    Politics1961-1970ComedyCubaTomás Gutiérrez Alea

    When her country is taken over by socialist revolutionaries, a wealthy woman can’t bear to give up all of her wealth and possessions to the new government, so she hides all of her treasures in the 12 chairs of a dining-room set. After her death her nephew finds out what she had done and, since the chairs had been “nationalized” and are now in the possession of a dozen different people, he sets out to track them down and get the treasures he believes rightfully belong to him.Read More »

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

    Tomás Gutiérrez Alea1961-1970CubaDramaPolitics
    Memorias del subdesarrollo (1968)
    Memorias del subdesarrollo (1968)

    Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s gutsy Memorias del Subdesarrollo (Memories of Underdevelopment) is a difficult work of political activism. This stirring blend of narrative fiction, still photography and rare documentary footage catalogs the many intricacies and contradictions of a bourgeois Cuban intellectual’s loyalty to Castro’s revolution. Though Alea himself was devoted to the cause, his films forever scrutinized the self-devouring nature of Castro’s Cuba. (Alea died in 1996 shortly after the one-two success of the Oscar-nominated Strawberry and Chocolate and Guantanamera.) If Mikhail Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba championed the need for revolution in the country, Memories contemplates the failure of the new government to recognize and negotiate the lingering bourgeois threat left in the wake of Fulgencio Batista’s fall.Read More »

  • Daniel Díaz Torres – Jíbaro AKA Wild Dogs (1985)

    1981-1990ActionCubaDaniel Díaz TorresDrama

    The first years of the revolution, characterized by social transformations and class struggle, make man’s challenge to the animal fade into the background. A very skilled hunter, attached to his world and his myths, does not adapt easily to a changing context. A personal conflict will contribute to deepen his contradictions; his virtues as a hunter will be put to the test.Read More »

  • Julio García Espinosa – La Vivienda (1959)

    1951-1960CubaDocumentaryJulio García EspinosaShort Film

    From wikipedia:
    Julio García Espinosa (5 September 1926 – 13 April 2016) was a Cuban film director and screenwriter. He directed fourteen films between 1955 and 1998. His 1967 film The Adventures of Juan Quin Quin was entered into the 5th Moscow International Film Festival.Read More »

  • Sara Gómez – De cierta manera (1977) (HD)

    1971-1980CubaDramaSara GómezThe Female Gaze

    Quasi documentary about the creation of the Miraflores housing development after the Cuban revolution. In this first Cuban feature film made by an Afro-Cuban and by a woman, Sara Gómez uses innovative documentary and fictional techniques to focus on the marginalised in the poorest, most underdeveloped areas of Cuba. Against a backdrop of dismantled slums and new housing construction, the relationship between a mulatta and a Black Cuban unfolds as a conflict between ingrown ideas of race, class and gender and a Revolution that is trying to dismantle the old, outmoded structures.Read More »

  • Fernando Birri – Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes AKA A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings (1988)

    1981-1990CubaDramaFantasyFernando Birri

    An elderly man with wings is blown off course during a tropical storm in this symbolic fantasy. The Old Man (Fernando Birri) lands near a Caribbean island where a poor family gives him shelter in a hen-coop. Father Gonzaga (Luis Alberto Ramirez) is the skeptical priest who rushes to damn the creature. Soon the Old Man becomes the subject of curiosity seekers as Elisinda (Daisy Granados) and Pelayo (Asdrubal Melendez) start charging admission. A traveling carnival of human oddities camps near the Old Man as people flock to see the show. The Old Man is reduced to being an unwanted pet, and after six years, he mends his wings and flies away.Read More »

  • Manuel Octavio Gómez – La primera carga al machete AKA The First Charge of the Machete (1969)

    1961-1970Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtArthouseCubaManuel Octavio GómezPolitics

    From Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art:
    Possibly the most ‘aesthetic’ and ‘experimental’ of revolutionary Cuba’s films, this outstanding work utilizes high-contrast photography, over-exposure, and solarization to create the faded chiaroscuro and poetic authenticity of the period it depicts. The film deals with an 1870 uprising against the Spanish occupation troops in Cuba, in which the machete, originally used to cut sugar cane, becomes a weapon of the people’s warfare. The portrayals of decadent upper classes and heroic peasants are sharp and incisive, and distancing devices – such as characters addressing the camera – are used to induce attitudes of analysis instead of involvement. The emergence of such a strongly poetic work within the Cuban film industry testifies to the divergent aesthetic tendencies permitted expression within the revolution.Read More »

  • Humberto Solás – Lucía (1968)

    1961-1970CubaDramaHumberto Solás

    A formally dazzling landmark of Cuban cinema by Humberto Solás, the operatic epic Lucía recounts the history of a changing country through the eyes of three eponymous women. In 1895, Lucía is a tragic noblewoman who inadvertently betrays her country for love. In 1932, she is a member of the bourgeoisie drawn into the workers’ uprising against the dictator. And in the postrevolutionary 1960s, she is a rural newlywed struggling against patriarchal oppression. Shot in an array of distinct, evocative visual styles, Solás’s sprawling triptych is a vital document of radical progress.
    CriterionRead More »

  • Daniel Díaz Torres – Alice in Wondertown AKA Alicia en el pueblo de Maravillas (1991)

    1991-2000ComedyCubaDaniel Díaz TorresPolitics

    Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, Daniel Díaz Torres’s ALICE IN WONDERTOWN is both an absurdist comedy and an allegory with a dark political undercurrent. Alice is a drama teacher who goes on a cultural mission to a small town where the most bizarre occurrences are commonplace. Mirrors become doors, circus animals walk the streets, and it seems anything can happen – and everyone except Alicia seems resigned to the situation. She discovers before long that the town’s population is made up of officials and workers who have been fired for violating rules, minor or illusionary, and now cannot find their way out of this strange town.One of the most controversial films in the history of Cuba, ALICE IN WONDERTOWN was banned by government authorities from Cuban theatres shortly after its release, threatening the independence that the Cuban film industry hitherto had enjoyed.Read More »

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