Written by Enrique Pineda Barnet and Yevgeni Yevtushenko
Cinematography by Sergei Urusevsky
Editing by Nina Glagoleva
Original music by Carlos Fariñas
Cast: Sergio Corrieri, Salvador Wood, Jose Gallardo, Luz Maria Collazo
Cuba/USSR, 1964, Milestone Films, digital, B&W, 141 min.
Spanish with English subtitles
I AM 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. These very real kinds of situations may seem dated and clichéd today [unless you consider the American Secret Service agents’ recent scandals in Colombia, the loss of farm land in Mexico to giant corporations filling grocery stores in the US, student involvement in the Arab Spring of 2011, and the destruction of Palestinian homes ad infinitum]. But no matter how powerful the content of the film, I AM CUBA has garnered praise over the past two decades for its “death-defying” camera work with swooping dolly shots and long takes, all done before Steadicams and small helicopter cameras. Once experienced, SOY CUBA will never leave your cinematic memory.