A prostitute solicits in a posh nightclub but lives in a derelict slum in Havana while a disenfranchised sugarcane farmer is driven to burn his precious produce in despair; an angst-ridden student ponders the use of violence as means of resistance and an apolitical peasant is driven to join Castro’s brigades. These four episodes, narrated by a woman who identifies herself as Cuba, chart the course of a nation’s fate from colonialist subjugation to popular revolution. I Am Cuba is a singular collective endeavour.
A Soviet-Cuban production, it boasts the talents of poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko as a screenwriter and represents the aesthetic summit of cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky and director Mikhail Kalatozov’s collaboration (the duo had previously made The Cranes Are Flying and The Letter Never Sent). The film’s elaborately conceived and painstakingly choreographed camera set-ups are without parallel in film history.
Initially commissioned as propaganda, its technical tour-de-force has made it a cult film; earning admiration from film-makers Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather) and Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull).
This two-disc edition presents I Am Cuba in its restored print along with an appraisal by Martin Scorsese. It also includes Vincente Ferraz’s Siberian Mammothwhich explores the film’s production, detailing the collective effort behind its notoriously elaborate camera set-ups. It also outlines the film’s political context and profiles the collaboration between director Mikhail Kalatozov and cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky.
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Origin: Cuba, Soviet Union / 1964 + 2005 / Rated: PG / DVD PAL Multi-Region / Mono Audio / 4:3 Black & White / Spanish with English Subtitles / Running time: 257 Mins