7:15 pm | 2hr 20min | Drama, Music, War | Spanish & English
I Am Cuba is a 1964 Soviet-Cuban film directed by Mikhail Kalatozov at Mosfilm.
This study of Cuba–partially written by renowned poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko–captures the island just before it made the transition to a post-revolutionary society. Moving from city to country and back again, I AM CUBA examines the various problems caused by political oppression as well as by great discrepancies in wealth and power. Beginning in Havana in the pre-Castro era, we see how foreigners contributed to the city’s prostitution and poverty; this sequence features dreamy, hallucinogenic camera work that creates a feeling of unease and dislocation. Then, in glorious images of palm tress and fertile land, the film looks at the sugar cane fields in the countryside, and the difficulties faced by peasants working the land. Finally, back in the city again, leftist students battle the police and a corrupt government–and pay a high price for their rebellion.
The film 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.