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Film: I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba) Opens
DIRECTED BY: MIKHAIL KALATOZOV | 1964 | 2H 20M | UNRATED | IN SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
I AM CUBA (SOY CUBA) is one of the landmarks of world cinema, first revealed to American audiences 30 years after its production. Soviet director Mikhail Kalatozov, born in Georgia and praised for THE CRANES ARE FLYING (1957), set out to create a Cuban film as powerful as Eisenstein’s BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, a rallying point for a nascent revolution. With a script by the Soviet Union’s internationally famed poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko and Cuban author Enrique Pineda Barnet, the film is divided into four sections: “Ugly American” tourists taking advantage of Cuban women’s poverty, the anguish of a tenant farmer whose land has been sold to the United Fruit Company, the optimistic actions of a student revolutionary, and the decision by another peasant to join the revolutionary forces after his home has been destroyed by government planes.
Mikhail Kalatozov’s wildly mobile, hallucinatory film was initially rejected by both Cuban and Soviet officials for excessive naiveté and an insufficiently revolutionary spirit, and went largely disregarded and almost unknown for nearly 30 years. That all changed in the early nineties—a remarkable era in film culture, chock full of rediscoveries—when Tom Luddy programmed it at the Telluride Film Festival, and Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola co-presented a Milestone Films release. I AM CUBA is a one-of-a-kind film experience, a visually mind-bending bolt from the historical blue.
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