I Am Cuba – Mikhail Kalatozov (1964)


I Am Cuba (Spanish: Soy Cuba; Russian: Я Куба, Ya Kuba) is a 1964 film directed by Mikhail Kalatozov at Mosfilm. An international co-production between the Soviet Union and Cuba, it was not received well by either the Russian or Cuban public and was almost completely forgotten until it was re-discovered by filmmakers in the United States thirty years later. The acrobatic tracking shots and idiosyncratic mise en scene prompted Hollywood directors like Martin Scorsese to begin a campaign to restore the film in the early 1990s. The film is shot in black and white, sometimes using infrared film obtained from the Soviet military to exaggerate contrast (making trees and sugar cane almost white, and skies very dark but still obviously sunny). Most shots are in extreme wide-angle and the camera passes very close to its subjects, whilst still largely avoiding having those subjects ever look directly at the camera. The movie consists of four distinct short stories about the suffering of the Cuban people and their reactions, varying from passive amazement in the first, to a guerrilla march in the last. Between the stories, a female narrator (credited ‘The Voice of Cuba’) says such things as, ‘I am Cuba, the Cuba of the casinos, but also of the people.’ The first story (centered on the character Maria) shows the destitute Cuban masses contrasted with the splendor in the American-run gambling casinos. Maria lives in a shanty-town on the edge of Havana and hopes to get married to her fruit-seller boyfriend, Rene. Rene is unaware that she leads an unhappy double-life as ‘Betty’, a bar prostitute at one of the Havana casinos catering to rich Americans. … The next story is about a farmer, Pedro, who just raised his biggest crop of sugar yet. … The third story describes the suppression of rebellious students led by a character named Enrique at Havana University (featuring one of the longest camera shots). … The final part shows Mariano, a typical farmer, who rejects the requests of a revolutionary soldier to join the ongoing war. The soldier appeals to Mariano’s desire for a better life for his children, but Mariano only wants to live in peace and insists the soldier leave. Immediately thereafter though, the government’s planes begin bombing the area indiscriminately. Mariano’s home is destroyed and his son is killed. He then joins the rebels in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, ultimately leading to a triumphal march into Havana to proclaim the revolution. …”
Wikipedia
I Am Cuba, Restored and Reimagined
Milestone (Video)
YouTube: I AM CUBA Trailer, I am Cuba official trailer
YouTube: Documentary About I am Cuba

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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