Cuba, 84 min, Spanish with English subtitles
A remarkable pair of portraits by director Manuel Zayas - from inside the homeland - of maverick Cuban artists whose reputations have grown immensely after their deaths in exile. Seres extravagantes (Odd People Out) chronicles the persecution of homosexuals focusing on the life of novelist Reinaldo Arenas (El mundo alucinante [Hallucinations], Antes que anochezca [Before Night Falls]) and featuring interviews with his beloved mother and errant father. Café con leche tells the story of Cuba’s greatest documentary filmmaker, Nicolás Guillén Landrián, in his own words and images. A restless poet with a camera, his impassioned work did not fit the revolution’s designs and he was rewarded with imprisonment and shock treatment. In his suicide note, Arenas encouraged his countrymen to continue the pursuit of freedom: “Cuba will be free. I already am.” For his part, Guillén Landrián signed off his documentaries with “El fin, pero no es el fin” (The End, but it’s not the end). Indeed.
They come in all shapes and sizes. They are fearless and fly under the radar. They address a reality that’s either glossed over or spoken of in hushed tones. Armed with little more than their immense talent - and an overriding sense of humor - Cuban independent filmmakers have been carving out a significant niche for themselves. CGAC is delighted to pay tribute to these largely unsung movie heroes with a 9-program, 25-film salute.
Forbidden Fruit: Cuban Independent Film in the 21st Century was programmed in collaboration with Alejandro Ríos, and with the enthusiastic participation of all filmmakers involved - in and out of Cuba. Poster artist: Andrés Ungaro, courtesy of Blanco-Lorenz. Technical support: Magna-Tech Electronic. Special thanks to Rosa Marquetti, SGAE Havana and Dean Luis Reyes, whose series, Cuban Cinema under Censorship, at MoMA in New York City, was the inspiration for this program.
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