I Am Cuba
Directed by: Mikhail Kalatozov
1964 | USSR/Cuba | 135 minutes
Friday, January 12, 2018, 7pm
"The island of Cuba has never looked as fantastically exotic as it does in I Am Cuba, a nearly 2 1/2-hour swatch of cinematic agitprop that aspires to be the Potemkin of the Cuban Communist Revolution. Completed in 1964, during the headiest days of the romance between the Soviet Union and Cuba, this Russian-Cuban co-production is a feverish pas de deux of Eastern European soulfulness and Latin sensuality fused into an unwieldy but visually stunning burst of propaganda. Supervised by the great Russian director Mikhail Kalatozov, who is best known for The Cranes Are Flying, it suggests Eisenstein filtered through La Dolce Vita with an Afro-Cuban pulse.
I Am Cuba is structured like a social realist mural with five panels, each of which illustrates a different aspect of the revolution. After surveying the fleshpots of tourist Havana with a leering disapproval, it moves into the sugar cane fields, then returns to the city to follow the leftist student movement. From there it journeys to the country to show the bombing of the innocent peasants' hillside dwellings. It ends in the mountains marching with Fidel Castro's ragtag army." - Stephen Holden, The New York Times