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).
- Society of Camera Operators (1997): Won, Historical Shot
Origin: Cuba, Soviet Union / 1964 / Rated: PG / DVD 9-PAL multi-region / Mono / Black & White / Spanish with English Subtitles / Running time: 140 Mins