I AM CUBA
Now newly restored, Mikhail Kalatozov's deliriously beautiful masterpiece I AM CUBA is even more ravishing and surreal than ever — the improved visuals and the single-language soundtrack allow viewers to experience the film's extraordinary cinematography, sound editing and narrative power. Produced by the USSR's Mosfilm and Cuba's ICAIC, this film began shooting only a week after the Cuban missile crisis ended and was designed to be Cuba's answer to both Sergei Eisenstein's propaganda masterpiece BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN and Jean-Luc Godard's freewheeling romance BREATHLESS. But I AM CUBA turned out to be something quite unique — a wildly schizophrenic celebration of Communist iconography, mixing Slavic solemnity with Latin sensuality. The plot, or rather plots, feverishly explore the seductive, decadent (and marvelously photogenic) world of Batista's Cuba — deliriously juxtaposing images of rich Americans and bikini-clad beauties sipping cocktails poolside with scenes of ramshackle slums filled with hungry children and gaunt old people. Using wide-angle lenses that distort and magnify and filters that transform palm trees into giant white feathers, cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky's acrobatic camera achieves wild gravity-defying angles as it glides effortlessly through long continuous shots. But I AM CUBA is not just a catalog of bravura technique — it also succeeds in exploring the innermost feelings of the characters and their often-desperate situations. (Note adapted from Milestone Films.) DIR Mikhail Kalatozov; SCR Enrique Pineda Barnet, Evgeniy Evtushenko; PROD Bela Fridman, Semyon Maryakhin, Miguel Mendoza. Cuba/USSR, 1964, b&w, 141 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED
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