Cuba Videos

"It isn’t often that Cuban filmmakers get the opportunity to showcase their work in the United States. The Americas Media Initiative provides one of these rare opportunities. Cuba—not the diplomatic juggernaut familiar to US audiences, but rather its landscape and people—come to life in this collection: its landscape in the form of a silent man and his mule's forlorn crossing of the Sierra Maestra (La isla eterna); its sports and gender issues (Grandes ligas?) its politics in the voices of artists, authors and musicians (Zona de silencio); its Afro-Caribbean religious practices (ALAbbá).

These films introduce the viewers to compelling and profound characters, emblematic of life in Cuba when the iconoclasm fades back and allows daily life to run its course. We thus meet Lency, a rural Cuban McGyver whose ingenuity knows no limits (Un puente sobre el rio), and Freddy Ilanga, a retired neurosurgeon born and raised in Africa, and brought to Cuba after serving as Che's Swahili translator in the era of Cuban support for Congolese rebels (El traductor del Che). Freddy's story, as well as those of Russian and Eastern European women spirited from the Soviet Union to Cuba by their love for visiting Cuban students (Todas iban a ser reinas), showcase the particular 'intermestizaje' brought about by Cuba's unique political trajectory in the twentieth century."
 
Julia Sweig, Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow and Director, Latin America Studies and Global Brazil Initiative Council on Foreign Relations
NEW RELEASE
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TIERRALISMO: Stories From a Cooperative Farm

Director: Alejandro Ramírez Anderson
49 minutes, 2013
(Spanish with English subtitles)

Tierralismo is a beautiful film about the Alamar "organiponico" (organic coopareative farm) located outside of Havana. The organiponico was organized in the 1990's during the height of the Special Period in Cuba. Tierralismo contains interviews with many of the members of the cooperative who share their stories about how they got there and what the organiponico has contributed to their community. This Alamar organiponico is world-renowned, many specialists in organic farming, agricultural students and investigators visit the farm throughout the year.

 

 

 

NEW RELEASE
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ELENA

Director: Marcelo Martín
42 minutes, 2012
(Spanish with English subtitles)

The new Cuban documentary ELENA follows several residents in the "Elena" building, located in Central Havana, over a three-year period. ELENA is one of the first contemporary investigative documentaries made in Cuba about a serious social problem that affects many Cubans.

Since 1988, following a decision by the government to demolish the bathrooms and kitchens of a wing of the building, the inhabitants of Elena still await the needed repairs. They are experiencing an alarming deterioration of their property along with the social degradation that has affected their daily life. Threatened by an imminent collapse of their building these residents are also victims of endless broken promises by the government. Some await a miracle while others have adapted to coexist    with misery, where even death doesn't scare them anymore.

 

 

 


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Major Leagues?

(¿Grandes Ligas?)
Director: Ernesto Pérez Zambrano
27 minutes, 2008
(Spanish with English subtitles)

The members of the Cuban National women's baseball team discuss their passion for their sport and the trials and tribulations of participating in Cuba's "national past-time" in a society that is filled with machismo, prejudice and daily hardships. The older generation of women who participated in the League in the 1940's talk about the sexism they dealt with and how generation after generation women still face the same attitudes from men about their participation in the sport.

 

 

 


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They Would All Be Queens

(Todas iban ser reinas)
Directed by: Gustavo Pérez
Spanish with English sub-titles
2006, 55 min.

The stories of several Soviet women living in or around Camaguey, Cuba who married Cuban men and moved to Cuba in the 1980s before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union fell and Cuba entered “The Special Period” where food and all other goods became scarce if non-existant these women found themselves trapped in a situation they could have never imagined. They would all be Queens provides a unique insight into the fall-out of a geo-political relationship forged during the Cold War and the individuals whose lives were deeply affected by it.

Click here for film review by: Anthropology Review Database


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Cuban Animations from the Young Directors Film Festival

(Spanish with English Subtitles)
These eight short animations have been screened at the Muestra Joven (Young Directors) Film Festival in Havana, Cuba. The Festival began in 2001 and is recognized as the most important showcase for young cinematic talent in Cuba. Cuban animation is world renown and even though many of these young animators don't have access to the latest technology they are still able to produce interesting, provocative and aesthetically beautiful works.

  • 8 Formas de Enfermar / 8 Ways to Get Sick (Leandro de la Rosa), 4 min., 2009
  • Como Desaparecer completamente /How to Completely Disappear (Harold Rensoli), 3 min., 2009
  • El Traje / The Suit (Abdel and Adrián de la Campa), 5 min., 2010
  • La Revancha / The Revenge (Ivette Ávila), 3 min, 2009
  • Tic Tac / Tick Tock (Alien Ma Alfonso), 6 min., 2008
  • Niños imaginarios / Imaginary Boys (Alien Ma Alfonso), 4 min., 2010
  • La Costurera / The Seamstress (Ivette Ávila), 6 min., 2010
  • Comunidades Modernas/Modern Communities (Lester Harbert Noguel), 3 min., 2008

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New Comedy Shorts from Cuba

(Spanish with English Subtitles)
Dany and the Nerds Club
Director: Victor Alfonso
25:37, 2010
A comical animation on the universal theme of the nerdy guy in high school falling in love with the beautiful girl and how his goofy friends try and help him win her heart.

Committee 666
Director: Arturo Infante
17:12, 2010
A hilarious look at the CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution) #666, a Satan worshipping CDR where it’s members are in preparation for the arrival of the anti-Christ who is searching the world for a virgin bride.

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A Bridge over the River (Un Puente sobre el Rio)

Director: Rigoberto Jiménez, Spanish with English subtitles,
30 minutes, 2009
In the middle of Cuba’s central mountains lives Lency, a man with no limits on his inventiveness and creativity – he has a solution for everything – the lack of transportation, electricity, domestic labor, etc. He is a regular family guy but he does things a little bit differently, figures out ways to deal with daily problems and helps out his neighbors in tough times.

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Alabbá

Directed by Eliezer Pérez Angueira, Spanish with English subtitles, 40 minutes, 2010
Alabbá looks at the fascinating history of Santería and how its historic roots have transformed into a contemporary religion in modern day Cuba. Alabbá focuses on three women of African descent who arrived in Cuba in the 19th century, tracing their influence on the development of Santería. The documentary includes interviews with current practitioners and historians.

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Zone of Silence (Zona de Silencio)

Directed by Karel Ducasse, Spanish with English subtitles,
40 minutes, 2007
Five Cuban intellectuals that live on the island, a filmmaker, a musician, two writers and a university professor, discuss censorship as a historical, political and social phenomenon. Their discussion is about the limits that this scourge has provoked in artistic creation throughout time and throughout the world. Interviewed are: Fernando Perez, Filmmaker; Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Poet and journalist; Fran Delgado, Musician; Antón Arrufat, Playwright, writer, journalist; Gustavo Arcos, Film Historian and critic.

VIEW CLIP

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The Infinite Island (La Isla Infinita)

Director: Rigoberto Jiménez, Spanish with English subtitles, 2011
A peasant takes a long and difficult journey over the mountains of the Sierra Maestra to buy a new mule, a absolute necessity for his life and fundamental part of his identity. This is a journey that has been repeated for generations. This is a journey that often transcends its original purpose and becomes a metaphor for describing a process, time, the never- ending search. Filmmaker Rigoberto Jiménez mixes documentary and fiction to tell this enduring story of life in the Sierra Maestra mountains of Cuba.

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Freddy Ilanga: Che’s Swahili Translator (Freddy Ilanga: El Traductor del Che)

Director: Katrin Hansing, Spanish with English & French subtitles, 24:00 minutes, 2009
In April 1965, Freddy Ilanga, a fifteen-year-old Congolese youth, became Che Guevara’s personal Swahili teacher and translator during the latter’s secret mission in the Congo to train anti-Mobutu rebels. After seven intense months by Che Guevara’s side, the Cuban authorities sent Freddy to Cuba. During his early years, Freddy thought that his stay in Cuba would be temporary. However, 40 years passed, during which time he lost all contact with his family and homeland. That is until 2003, when he received an unexpected phone call from Bukavu, his home town. His family had finally found him…
‘Che’s Swahili Translator’ is a documentary about Freddy Ilanga, an African man whose life was abruptly transformed through a chance encounter with one of the great icons of the 20th Century, and which has predominantly been determined by the power struggles of the Cold War and the Cuban Revolution. It is a story about migration and displacement and the high human costs of exile and family separation.