Fall 2000
Caribbean Cinema Night

In the last four decades, Cuba has created a beautiful repertoire of films that portray the social challenges of its people in an ever changing world. The following series gives the audience an opportunity to observe the development of this revolutionary society from the standpoint of the Cuban filmmakers of the 20th Century. Our eyes will be, among others, the ones of characters like the decadent bourgeois, the surviving prostitute, and the socialist idealist. The realities of these characters reveal the universal struggle of  the fragile and unflagging human spirit. 

When: Thursdays 7-9 pm 
Where:  Herter 205 
Contact for more information: 
Enrique Garcia:  enriquegm69@hotmail.com  5460710 


Las doce sillas (The Twelve Chairs):September 14, 2000
Soy Cuba (I am Cuba): September 21, 2000
La muerte de un burocrata (Death of a Bureaucrat): September 28, 2000
Lucia:October 5, 2000
Memorias del subdesarrollo (Memories of Underdevelopment): October 19, 2000
La ultima cena (The Last Supper):October 26, 2000
Elpidio Valdes: November 2, 2000
Retrato de Teresa (Portrait of Teresa): November 9, 2000
Elpidio Valdes contra Dolar y Canon (Elpidio Valdes vs Dollar and Cannon): November 16, 2000

Coming in Spring 2001


1)Guantanamera on DVD.
2)Where you can get good Cuban Cinema stuff if you go to Cuba.
3)How to go to Cuba's Latin American film festival if you are an American(Cold War secrets). 
4)Official Cuban Cinema web site.
5)Up to a Certain Point is delayed until next semester.

Interviews regarding Cuban Cinema

Francis Ford Coppola

Las doce sillas  (The Twelve Chairs)  1962

Dir. Tomas Gutierrez Alea 
Genre: Comedy 
Time: 97 minutes 
No Subtitles 
Black and White 
Plot:  Before dying, a rich woman decides to hide her jewels under one of  her chairs. An ex-landlord and his ex-chauffer get to know about this and begin a desperate journey with the purpose of finding this treasure. This makes for wacky situations and incredible happenings. 

Extra notes:

1)This movie is one of the earliest fiction films made after the Revolution. 
2)It is adapted from the much beloved Russian novel called The Twelve Chairs and written by Ilf and Petrov. The main difference is that the book takes place at the beginning of the Russian Revolution while the movie takes place in the sixties and at the beginning of the Cuba revolution. 
3)There is a Mel Brooks version that was made in 1970. It is available on video and dvd and it is easy to get. Brook's movie takes place in Russia and is not bad. Still, I prefer the Cuban version because of its cultural context. 
4)I heard that there is an Eastern Germany version, but I haven't been able to track it down. 
5)Only version available is the Cuban VHS version. 

Soy Cuba (I am Cuba) 1964

Dir. Mikhail Kalatozov 
Genre: Epic 
Time: 140 minutes 
Spanish and Russian dialogue with English subtitles 
Black and White 
Plot: Epic poem about the Cuban revolution that is seen from the point of view of four different characters. The first movie ever jointly presented by master directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorcese. 
The film is divided into four short stories: 
1)In the first story, we experience the exploitation of Cuba's women at the hands of American imperialists. In a grim portrait of this decadence, the director identifies the main character(a prostitute) with an island that has been pillaged for centuries by the colonial powers. 
2)In the next chapter, a young farmer suffers the harsh reality of capitalism as he loses everything when the owner of the land he works, sells everything to a big American corporation. 
3)In the third part, a young student fights in La Havana to defeat Batista. Only at the end, he discovers how to really fight for his country. 
4)The last story goes to the legendary Sierra Maestra where a farmer rejects the call to battle from a Fidelesque character. He finally joins the revolution after his home is destroyed by the American-organized bombing and learns to become a hero as they defeat Batista's forces. 

Extra notes:

1)This movie is supposed to be Cuba's epic about the socialist revolution. Some may feel that it is a bit propagandistic at times, but the way it was shot and filmed is so beautiful, outstanding, and creative that Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorcese jointly presented it in several cities of the US(the only time they have done this together). A cult movie for film directors who have studied film, it has been quoted by many of them. An example of this is Paul Anderson as he steals a scene from it in his movie Boogie Nights(admitted by him in his commentary for the Boogie Nights DVD). 
2)We cannot condemn this epic for being nationalistic because that has been usually the case in the genre since ancient times. 
3)This movie was a coproduction between the Soviet Union and Cuba. The director of the film was Russian and while it is visually compelling, the storytelling follows mostly the Soviet style. The Cuban cowriter of the film, Enrique Pineda, personally told me when he visited Puerto Rico, that if the film has a narrative flaw(visually is perfect), it is because the Russians wanted to emphasize the evilness of the Americans which at times may feel as cartoony as the American films regarding the cold war. Michael Chanan adds: "The truth is that while it made sense for ICAIC to undertake these co-productions for both artistic and material reasons, the foreign visitors didn't do their homework properly- even Yevtushenko, who was especially enthusiastic. Still, even he was unable to get beneath the skin and go beyond the traveler's image of the island which Soviet revolutionary poetry inherited fro Mayakovsky's visit in the 20's". (131) 
4)The Russian cinematographer is a master that is usually revered in film circles. If you see the movie you will notice astounding camera work that really seem out of this world as at the time, the equipment was very heavy. 
5)The movie was done in Spanish but for the Soviet Union, a bilingual version was created. That is the version available to the US. At times, it may be bit confusing but the English subtitles will help. 
6)Available in the US in VHS and DVD. 

La muerte de un burocrata (Death of a Bureaucrat) 1966

Dir. Tomas Gutierrez Alea 
Genre: Comedy 
Time: 87 
English Subtitles 
Black and White 
Official New Yorker promo: With Death of a Bureaucrat, Alea pays homage to the history of film comedy from the anarchic tradition of Bunuel and Vigo, to the satire of Billy Wilder and the masters of American silent comedy Harold Loyd and Buster Keaton. The story of a young man's attempt to fight the system is an entertaining hilarious account of galloping bureaucracy and the tyranny of red tape. An adventurous mix of slapstick farce and paranoid nightmare make this comedy a rich and enjoyable frenzy of laughter. 
Plot: The main character's uncle dies at the beginning of the film and because he was a good worker for the revolution, he is buried with his worker's card. His widow cannot get the pension without that card, so his nephew wants the cemetery to open the tomb and get the id. This leads to all types of bureaucracy that turns into absolute madness at the end of the movie. 

Extra comments: 

This movie is very funny but what makes it so important is that it establishes Cuban Cinema's famous self satire. When Castro wanted censorship, many people wondered why many Cuban writers and directors supported this. The reason is that they think that you can criticize as long as you make constructive observations which support the system at the end. They would see as decadent, all the writers that want to destroy all the systems with their criticism but without presenting options that are better. That is why one can find self-criticism in Cuban cinema but with the purpose of bettering their society and not completely changing it(after all, they really believe in communism). This is a more slightly liberal approach than many other communist countries had and I think that is why many people respect their cinema as something more than propaganda(although everyone is guilty of creating propaganda, particularly the US). 
Reasons for watching the film 
1)It is very funny 
2)People who know Spanish can practice their skills 
3)Its free 
4)You will get to know more about the great Cuban cinema 
The movie is available in the US in VHS and is distributed by New Yorker films. 
Lucia (Lucia)  1968

Dir. Humberto Solas 
Genre: Epic 
Time: 160 minutes 
No subtitles 
Black and White 
Plot: Three tales about three women called Lucia. One takes place during the independence war against Spain, the second during the Machado dictatorship, and the third one is after Castro's revolution. Considered among Cuban critics as one of the great achievements of Cuban cinema. 
This next info is from the book A Guide to Cuban Cinema(ed. Alan Adelman)and the article is by K. Macduffie. I will only write here the pieces of the article that seem more pertinent for your enjoyment of the film. 


Lucia is actually three films in one, an historical survey of three periods in the modern day history of Cuba, seen from the perspective of three different women with the same given name who participate in the struggle for liberation which characterized these periods. In 1895, Lucia is seduced into betraying Cuban forces led by her own brother during the war for independence from Spain. In 1933, Lucia leaves her upper middle-class family and becomes involved through her lover in the overthrow of the Cuban dictator Machado and the ultimate betrayal of that revolution by the "pseudo-democracy" then established; a betrayal which leads ultimately to the establishment of the Batista dictatorship of the early 50's. In the 1960's, Lucia is taught how to read and write during Cuba's literacy campaign, and in the process she learns of her own rights as a woman under the new socialist dispensation, leading to a confrontation with her husband's macho attitudes. . . .(9) 

World View: 

This is a socialist analysis of Cuban history of the past ninety years as well as a discussion of the equality(or inequality) of the sexes placed in the context of that history. Despite the potential for propagandizing, the considerable artistic merit of the film(all three parts) saves it from such. . .(13) 

Analytical Content Quality: 

Lucia's greatest merit as a film is to show rather than tell--that is, it is a profound visual experience for viewers, who are consistently treated as intelligent and perceptive.  The film's statements are made visually rather than verbally, using its cinematic resources to the fullest. For this reason it is a stunning film, wether or not one agrees or disagrees with its ideological viewpoints. . .(13) 

Enrique again 

I hope this info was useful. I will use this book for the movies that apply and then I will write my own reviews for the newer ones(the book is old). 
Sorry for quoting but these things take a lot of time. 
People who could be interested in this movie: 
1)Women Studies scholars 
2)Latin American Studies people 
3)Anyone who wants to practice their Spanish 
4)Anyone who really wants to watch an awesome film 
Recommended article: "Lucia: Inventing Women's History on Film" by Barbara Weinstein. 
This movie is not available in the US. 
Memorias del subdesarrollo (Memories of Underdevelopment) 1968

Dir. Tomas Gutierrez Alea 
Genre: Avant Garde Drama 
Time: 97 minutes 
English Subtitles 
Black and white 
Plot: The film centers on a Europeanized Cuban intellectual, too idealistic to leave for Miami, but too decadent to fit into the new Cuban society. Considered to be the greatest Cuban film of all time. People that could be interested: Film lovers, people who want to practice their Spanish, Spanish teachers that want their students to watch Spanish films, Political Science and Latin American Studies people, Arts and Humanities scholars, and Communist fans! 
This is the review it got in the New York Times after it was finally brought to the US: 

Written by Vincent Camby in May 18, 1973 

The time is 1961, not long after the Bay of Pigs, and Sergio(Sergio Correri), the hero of Tomas Gutierrez Alea's superb Cuban film, Memories of Underdevelopment, moves through Havana as if he were a scuba diver exploring the ruins of a civilization he abhors but cannot bear to leave. The world he sees is startingly clear. It is also remote. The sounds he hears are his own 

"Everything happens to me too early or too late," says Sergio, an intellectual in his late thirties whose critical faculties have effectively rendered him incapable of any action whatsoever. After his estranged wife and his mother and father have fled to Miami, with the other bourgeoisie, he thinks he will write the novel he has always thought about, but then Sergio's standards are too high to allow him to add to the sum total of civilization's second rateness. He finds himself blocked. 

Perhaps if the revolution had happened earlier, he tells himself, he might have understood. Sergio makes half-hearted little efforts to mantain his old ways. He picks up Elena(Daisy Granados), a pretty, bird brained girl who wants to be an actress, and he tries to educate(he says "Europeanize") her. He takes her to art galleries and buys her books but her brain remains unreconstructed and birdlike. "She doesn't relate to things," he tells himself. "It's one of the signs of underdevelopment" 

He takes Elena on a sightseeing tour of Hemingway's house. "He said he killed so as not to kill himself," Sergio remembers, looking at some mounted antlers. "In the end he could no resist temptation". Even suicide is beyond Sergio. All he can do is observe, much of the time through a telescopeon the terrace of a penthouse apartment he must give up, sooner or later. 

Memories of Underdevelopment is a fascinating achievement. Here is a film about alienation that is wise, sad, and often funny, and that never slips into the bored and boring attitudes that wreck Antonioni's later films. Sergio is detached and wary, but around him is a hurricane of life. 

Gutierrez Alea was forty when he made Memories(in 1968), and he is clearly a man, like Sergio, whose sensibilites are European. Yet unlike Sergio, and unlike the director of Eclipse and Red Desert, he is so full of passion and political commitment that he has been able to make an essentially pro-revolutionary film in which Castro's revolution is observed through eyes dim with bafflement. 

The result is hugely effective and moving, and it is complete in the way that very few movies ever are. I haven't read Edmundo Desnoes' original novel(publishd here as Inconsolable Memories), but I like the fact thta Desnoes apparently likes the film that, in his words, had to be "a betrayal" of the book to be a good film. Gutierrez Alea says the author, in the film's program notes, "objectivized a world that was shapeless in my mind and still abstract in the book. He added social density . . ." 

Memories of Underdevelopment was one of the films scheduled to be shown here last year at the aborted Cuban Film Festival. It finally opened yesterday at the First Avenue Screening Room where it will play one week and then, I hope, it will move to another theater for the long run it deserves. 

Extra notes 

This film has won many awards and it is considered very avant-garde. Especially innovative is the blending of historical video archives with the fictional main character. Also important is the use of sound and the non linear narrative. One interesting thing about the review above, is that he talks about the "aborted Cuban festival". Because of political reasons, it is always very difficult to get to watch these films so that is why all of  you should take advantage of this fest as it is very difficult to get access to the films that I will be showing in this semester and the next. I hope that the FBI hasnt tapped my phone yet! By the way, this film is the only Caribbean movie to make the 360 film hall of fame created by the British Film Institute(Which has been critized for being too white male European oriented) so if it made it in this list it must be great. Anyway, I really hope to see you there if you have time as this is really a great movie. 

This movie is available in the US in VHS and is distributed by New Yorker films. 

La ultima cena (The Last Supper)

Dir. Tomas Gutierrez Alea 
Herter 205, 7:00 PM 
Genre: Historical Costume Drama 
Time: 110 minutes 
English Subtitles 
Plot: A dark parody set in 18th Century Cuba about what happens when one man carries out his idea of the Christian idea in the very non-Christian context of slavery. 

This movie is based on a true story as John Mraz describes in his article: "Recasting Cuban Slavery: The Other Francisco and the Last Supper":  ". . . The Last Supper is based on an anecdote about a slaveholder who in 1790 decided to replicate Jesus' act of washing his disciples' feet. Gutierrez Alea found the account in a work by one of Cuba's most eminent historians, Manuel Moreno Fraginals: 

His Excellency the Count de Casa Bayona decided in an act of deep Christian fervor to humble himself before the slaves. One Holy Thursday he washed twelve Negroes' feet, sat them at his table, and served them food in imitation of Christ. But their theology was somewhat shallow and, instead of behaving like the Apostles, they took advantage of the prestige they thus acquired in their fellow-slaves' eyes to organize a mutiny and burn down the mill. The Christian performance endedn with rancheadores(hunters of escaped 
slaves) hunting down the fugitives and sticking on twelve pikes the heads of the slaves before whom his Excellency had prostrated himself" (112-113) 

Another account of the film is found in A Guide to Cuban Cinema:  "The Last Supper is both an allegory and satire on Christianity in an opresive society. The film is actually based on an incident which occurred 
in Cuba towards the end of the 18th Century, when a guilt-ridden Count, torn between the need to keep up production on his plantation and a desire to introduce the tenets of Christianity to his slaves, decides to reenact the Last Supper. It is no surprise that once the slave master decided on this course he would portray himself as Christ. The events take place during Holy Week between Maunday Thursday and Easter Sunday. Central to the entire film are four fundamental conflicts: that of the priest who is determined to teach the slaves the meaning of Christianity, for which he demands from the Count that there should be no work on the Sabbath and holy days, and from the slaves that adhere to the maxim that slaves should obey their masters; that of the overseer who has his production quotas to fill and who is determined to keep the slaves in line on the plantation and who sees the work of the priest as both dangerous and detracting from the achievement of his quotas; that of the slaves, proud, resilient, and forever ready to subvert the system; and that of the Count, torn between the need to extract as much labor from his slaves, and burdened by the guilt that as a white slave holder his work would be unfulfilled if he failed to bring the true teachings of christianity  to his slaves. The skillful manipulation of these conflicts makes for a very exciting film." (23) 

Extra notes 

1)This movie can be very powerful as it confronts all the injustices made in the name of Christianty. It touches deeply the hearts of Christian viewers as we feel guilty of knowing that our society never applies completely Jesus's teachings and that many times we use his credo for our convenience only. 
2)The film is low budget, but with Gutierrez Alea's master direction the movie is highly entertaining and fast paced. It is an epic that may not blow us away visually but more emotionally than any Hollywood film. 
3)This movie is available in the US in VHS. It is distributed by New Yorker films. 

Elpidio Valdes 1978

Dir. Juan Padron
Genre: Animation
Time: 70 minutes
No subtitles
Plot: The origin of Cuba's Mickey Mouse. Elpidio is a Mambi who fights the Spanish in the Independence war. His father was the leader of the first rebellion that failed after the cease fire. Now, Elpidio must renew the fight and lead the Mambis to triumph against American and Spanish Imperialism

When I went to Cuba, one of the funniest jokes I heard was the fact that the kids hated the propagandistic Russian animation(note: there is some wonderful Russian animation out there. So not all of it is bad) and loved Disney's films(another form of propaganda but maybe more entertaining). They despised the Soviet versions so much that their parents would say to them: "If  you dont behave well, I will make you watch Russian animation". That says it all. Anyway, Juan Padron(who is Cuba's Walt Disney)created Elpidio's character for a comic book serial that appeared in the Newspapers and Magazines. He finally got to do the film version and it became so succesful that it has become a classic of Latin American cinema. The film is very, very entertaining. It is cute for the kids, but at the same time it is grim and violent and this usually amuses the adults. The achievement of Padron, is the fact that he has combined two worlds. The beauty and cuteness of Disney films with the dogma and realism of Socialism. Still, you shouldn't think that the movie is about communism particularly. I think the main message is against the imperialism that is based on capitalism. The movie takes place before Communism existed but it is sort of implied that it is the system that could save the world from the European and American imperialist forces.

I recomend this movie for:

1)Latin American Studies
2)Children Literature scholars(you dont see everyday a communist action hero!)
3)Spanish and Colonial specialists
4)Animation fans
5)Anyone interested in something as peculiar as a Cuban animated film

These are a few images of the Cuban comic book:

Elpidio guns down an evil Spaniard

Retrato de Teresa (Portrait of Teresa) 1979

Portrait of Teresa is a milestone of Cuban Cinema and I recommend it to everyone specially the people in Women 
Studies(TAKE NOTE!). Annette Kuhn loves the film so it may be of interest to the people who study Feminism. It has subtitles so you dont need to know Spanish!
November 9, 2000
Retrato de Teresa(Portrait of Teresa) 1979
Dir. Pastor Vega
Genre: Contemporary Drama
Time: 103 minutes
Plot: Story about a woman called Teresa and how she has to balance her conventional duties as a married woman with the new ones that come as  part of the Cuban revolution. Very controversial in Cuba because it confronts the machismo that still survives in the island even if the Communist goverment has made equality of genders an offical national issue.
After the Revolution, Cuba had a Communist goverment that was supposed to bring gender equality to society. The problem was(and this happened in every Communist country) that women got new responsibilities as an integral part 
of society, but not enough attention was put into eradicating the established and opressive male behavior that came from the previous capitalist society. Women had to be housewives, mothers, work on factories, and also be members of the party. This movie tries to denounce that a change must be made and that not all is well in the Socialist paradise. Women got their equality but men also needed to do housework stuff, and understand that females got new rights that change the way they saw gender difference before.Teresa is married to a tv repairman. She has a few kids and her days consist of the following:
1)Wake up and cook breakfast.
2)Send the kids to school
3)Work 10 hours a day
4)Participate in the workers'meetings
5)Organize a dance competition between factories.
She would come home late every day. Her husband would see this as ambition but she would say she was only doing her job as a worker of the revolution. The issue of possesion comes into the front. The husband knows she is right 
but as a male he is still thinking with the mind of the decadent past and that is why he cannot understand the true meaning of equality.Anyway I hope that you like the film and I hope to see you there.

Elpidio Valdes contra Dolar y Canon (Elpidio Valdes vs Dollar andCannon)  1982
Dir. Juan Padron
Genre: Animation
Time: 80 minutes
Plot: The movie follows Elpidio's adventures in Florida as he tries to deceive the evil Americans and Spaniards and bring to his army a new shipment of arms.
Extra notes:
Even though the first Elpidio movie is a milestone of Latin American animation, the second movie is better because it has better animation(the first one was great also dont get me wrong), a more complex storytelling, and it takes place in the US. The story is the following: The Cubans are buying weapons from the US to fight the Spanish. The problem is that every time a ship comes with them, the Spanish captures it in the sea and so all the weapons are lost. The Cubans learn that the Americans have a rackett in here. They sell the weapons, warn the Spanish, get the weapons back, and then they resell them back to the Cubans and cheat them in the process. Elpidio decides that he has to do this himself so he travels to Florida(Babylonia for the Cuban culture) and has to get the weapons himself. In the process, he has to outsmart the foolish Spaniards, the evil American business man, and the corrupt American sheriff. In the process, he meets new characters like Jamaican and Puerto Rican rebels who help him in his fight. The thing that is interesting for scholars who watch the film is how the US is portrayed for Cuban children. They are seen as imperialistic, but not in 
the same way as the Spanish. The US imperialism is economicly based and so is represented in terms of corruption rather than physical invasion. Of particular interest are the Puerto Rican characters who dont like the Americans. That is because if a rightwinger from Puerto Rico would watch the film, he would be offended as he would say that Puerto Rico loves the US inconditionally. I think that what they want the Cuban kids to see here, is that Puerto Rico is still a colony of the US and that means that they also can physically invade countries as the Spanish did. Anyway, this is a wonderful film and I think everyone that is able to go and understand Spanish, should not miss this hidden gem that is not available in the US.

This was Elpidio's letter to Elian when he was captive in the United States(Cine Cubano journal num. 147):

Febrero 11 del 2000

Campamento de Coquito del Guayabal
Prefectura de Tocororo Macho

Querido Capitan Elian:

Todas las noches, antes del toque de silencio y despues de limpiar nuestros yerritos y contar las balas, nos comemos unos boniatos mambises y hablamos de usted. Tendria usted que ver a Palmiche, rechinando los dientes y pateando furioso las piedras! Que rabia, compay, nos entra -hasta en las tripas- cuando vemos las cosas que hacen contigo: disfrazandote de murcielago prieto, envolviendote en otra bandera! Son una partida de patones y rayadillos! Pero, como siempre, los vamos arroyar con la caballeria.

Manana, con la fresca, vamos a cargar de nuevo al machete. Quiero que sepa que cuando el enemigo este formando en cuadro y yo le de a Pepito la orden de tocar a deguello, Maria Silvia, Eutelia, Oliverio y hasta el mas pinto de la paloma, te vamos a estranar. Pero, que se creen que te van a separar para siempre de nosotros! Que va! Eso habria que verlo, Compay!

Un abrazo de todos nosotros y de su,

Coronel Elpidio Valdes
5to de Fusileros a caballo
7mo Cuerpo de Ejercito

Ejercito Libertador de la Republica de Cuba en Armas


1)I just received Guantanamera on DVD! The picture is very good and the sound has been remastered in a very high quality. This is the second Cuban movie released on this format. I am Cuba was the first one, although because of  source material problems, the picture and sound are not as astounding. The Guantanamera DVD was released by New Yorker films and you can buy it in any online store(usually stores do not carry foreign films). Congratulations to New Yorker films for bringing these non-mainstream movies(another example is Fire, which is banned in India) to DVD! 

2)If any of you go to Cuba, you can buy the movies in any music/video store. They sell them in NTSC and PAL, so be careful and choose the correct system for your video backhome. In the Cuban Film Institute(ICAIC), there is a wonderful store that sells film related stuff like: videos, posters, books, memorabilia, and Cuban Cinema journals. The price for each film is 15 dollars. Expensive in Cuban terms but very cheap for us(you can get them in the US for 100 dollars each).

3)Because of the embargo, American citizens are not allowed to go to Cuba as tourists. The only way is through academic means and this is what  you should do if you want to go to something as the Latin American festival that takes place every December in Havana. First, you contact(e-mail:festival@icaic.inf.cu) them and tell them that you are interested in going to their festival. They will send you an official invitation by fax and this will certify that you are going to something academic.  This will allow you to buy an airplane ticket in the US and you can go through New York, Jamaica, Mexico, or Panama. DO THIS WITH TIME! The best place to stay are not the hotels, but the private residences. The hotels are expensive and not worth the money(around 100 dollars per day).  The private residences cost between 20-30 dollars a day and have air conditioner,  private bathrooms, and you could eat in their homes for a little extra money(4-5 bucks per meal). Also you get to live with the Cubans and that makes it more realistic than being in an expensive hotel. Some Americans fear going over there, but to tell you the truth, I felt safer than in the US. The police are very protective of tourists(an important income after all) and the only annoying thing are the hustlers that try to get money from you with fake stuff. This is not that bad as you find this also in Europe and other countries. So to finish this, the last thing I had to mention is that going to Cuba is very cheap and is really worthy to experience one of the last Communist countries of the world.

4)The official Cuban Cinema website is www.cinecubano.com There, you will be able to find updated news, articles, the Cuban Cinema journal etc. The only drawback is that it is in Spanish.

5)The reason for canceling Up to Certain Point, is because I just got another very important Cuban film that is called De cierta manera. This movie was the first one dealing with feminist topics, and it is the only Cuban film that has been directed by a woman. Up to a Certain Point is very influenced by Sara Gomez's film and it makes more sense when you watch it after viewing De cierta manera. That is why I decided to show both of them at the beginning of the Spring semester.
Also, I know that after Thanksgiving everyone is busy with their own papers and stuff so it is usually difficult to attend a movie during this time. During the winter vacation, I will be doing the schedule for the next semester. I will show around 8-10 movies and also the website will be cooler and with tons of more stuff. So I hope that you have liked the idea of this minifestival and I hope that you can come next semester.

In Michael Chanan's The Cuban Image: Cinema and Cultural Politics in Cuba, excerpts of  an interview conducted to famous director Francis Ford Coppola in 1975 are reprinted because they deal with Cuban Cinema. (pages 9-10): 

Robert Scheer interviews Francis Ford Coppola, City of San Francisco, 2nd December 1975. 

Were you able to see Cuban films down there?

Any films we wanted to see.  We would just sit in the screening room and they would run anything we wanted. 

What did you think of them?

I thought they were very good.  I have been traveling around and I know very well the pain of a country like Australia that's a wealthy civilised place and yet has no film industry, because it's cheaper for them to buy our old television shows and our old movies.  You see them struggling to have a little bit of a film thing. Yet here you have Cuba, which is a small place by comparison, and they have healthy, real, ambitious films. 

Are they doing experimental things?

A person who considers himself an artist approaches a socialist society worrying about, well, the art has to be really simple and follow a certain line and make a certain point, but my impression was that there's a lot of latitude. The Cuban authority acknowledges the complexity of the human experience and their films explore that.  My first impression when I saw Memories of Underdevelopment years ago was that it was complex and had different shades of feelings about the Revolution. They acknowledge that. They're very eloquent about it. They're not pretending that it's just child's play to put together this new kind of society; it's really hard. And for all their successes, they've had many failures. But they feel they're right, so it's worth pursuing it. 

They know that it's hard on people- the man at the mental institution says that the incidence of neurosis is much higher than before the Revolution. They are very honest about the difficulties of creating the socialist society- people rethinking questions of property, the fact that you're not rewarded monetarily. They have a very elaborate system of competition which does reward workers materially. If you do better at your job than the next person, you get to buy the washing machine. The lowest paid person might make 150 pesos a month and Fidel makes 700 pesos a month. So, I mean there are some differences in pay. We asked most of the smart-ass questions. For example, let's say you don't want to be a street cleaner anymore. How do you get out of it?  And the key word was education. If you're a street cleaner and you want to be a draftsman or an electronic engineer, you have the opportunity to study three hours a day; you don't get paid any less. The state encourages it. It's made available to them and they are not docked in pay. That, to me, is a really exciting idea. . . 

Did you ask questions about the problem of artisitic freedom?

Yes.  No one is permitted to criticize the goverment, other than through the channels that are provided for them.  If you're a worker or if you're a writer, you can do it in your various worker's groups.  In a factory they get together a couple of nights a week and discuss problems- how to make things better, what's unfair and stuff like that. So in other words, there are channels that allow you, not to criticize the idea of the society, but to figure out how to make it better. I like the honesty of it. They say no, you cannot criticize the goverment- that freedom, no, you don't have. 

Here in America you can write or say anything you want- and many people in Cuba are very impressed when you tell them this.  They are surprised when they see something like Godfather II . They wonder: 'How can you make a film that says nice thing about the Revolution?' But the truth is, I believe, that the freedoms we have here are possible because they do not even come close to jeopardizing the real interests that govern our country. If there were someone who really come close to jeopardizing those interests,  I believe our freedoms would vanish, one way or another.  If there were a man, a political candidate, who was elected to office and began implementing real programs that were counter to the big interests, there would be a coup or a murder or whatever was necessary. 

In Cuba they don't even have the ilussion of that kind of political freedom. It's as thought they are saying, 'Our revolution is too fragile, it has too many enemies, it is too difficult to pull off to allow forces inside or outside to work to counter it.' I understand the implications of what I am saying, the dangers.  But I put it to you: If they are right- if their society is truly beautiful and honest and worthwhile- then it's worth protecting, even with this suspension of freedom.  In Chile, that newborn, elected society was not protected in this way, and so it was destroyed. Ironically, the goverment that replaced it is not taking any chances and is controlling the press and opposition in a way that Allende did not. 

It seems that what you're saying is that in Cuba, for instance, people suddenly had the freedom to do something very positive like create a mental institution or a school, which in some sense is a freedom we don't have. Basically our freedom is still limited freedom.

We don't have the freedom to live in a society that is healthy.  That is real freedom. We don't have the freedom to live in a society that takes care of people. . . 

Francis Ford Coppola's most famous films are: 
The Godfather Trilogy 
The Conversation 
Apocalypse Now 
Bram Stoker's Dracula 

Recommended Books and articles(more will be added in time) 

Adelman, Alan. ed. A Guide to Cuban Cinema. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1981. (Out of Print) 
Camby, Vincent. "Memories of Underdevelopment". The New York Times Guide to the Best 1000 Movies Ever Made. Ed. Peter M. Nichols. New York: Random House, 1999. pags 549-550.
Chanan, Michael. The Cuban Image: Cinema and Cultural Politics in Cuba. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1985. (Out of Print) 
Ilf, and, Petrov. The Twelve Chairs. Trans. John H.C. Richardson. 2nd ed. Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2000. 
Mraz, John. "Recasting Cuban Slavery: The Other Francisco and the Last Supper".  Based on a True Story: Latin American History at the Movies.  Ed. Donald D. Stevens. Delaware: Scholarly Resources, 1997. pags 103-123. 
Weinstein, Barbara. "Lucia: Inventing Women's History on Film". Based on a True Story: Latin American History at the Movies. Ed. Donald F. Stevens. Delaware: Scholarly Resources, 1997. pags 123-143.