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).
Extras: 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.
A work of dazzling cinematographic invention that still has the ability to astound Film4
Some of the most exhilarating camera movements and most luscious black-and-white cinematography you'll ever see Chicago Reader
It is one of the most visually hypnotic films ever – and that's not hyperbole San Francisco Chronicle
Cast & Crew: Sergio Corrieri / Salvador Wood / Jose Gallardo / Raul Garcia / Luz Maria Collazo / Jean Bouise / Alberto Morgan / Director: Mikhail Kalatozov / Screenplay: Yevgeny Yevtushenko / Cinematographer: Sergei Urusevsky
Awards: Independent Spirit Awards (1996): Nominated, Best Foreign Film / National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA (1996): Won, Archival Award / Society of Camera Operators (1997): Won, Historical Shot
Technical: 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
Licensed from AUDIOVISUALES ICAIC and Siberian Mammoth licensed from Grupo Novo Cinema e TV / Martin Scorsese interview licensed from MK2.