It’s a shame that some movies never get seen outside of their immediate country. Yeah, there are a lot of crap movies out there that have been forgotten, but there are also some masterpieces sitting around in film canisters in someone’s bomb shelter, gathering dust.
I Am Cuba seemed destined to be one of those movies. It has a pretty interesting history. After the Cuban revolution Castro and his new government went to the Soviet Union for, among other things, film partnerships. The USSR agreed to help finance a film that promoted socialism, and that’s how I Am Cuba, a movie about the Cuban revolution, was born.
The director was given a lot of freedom and support to complete the work, which was first screened in 1964, but ultimately the movie wasn’t well-liked among Cubans and Russians because Cubans thought that they were portrayed in a stereotypical manner and Russians thought the movie was simply too naive.
So that was that. The film was largely forgotten by the fall of the USSR in the early 1990s, but in 1992, Cuban novelist Guillermo Cabrera Infante, the guest co-director of the Telluride Film Festival, screened a print of the film at the festival as part of a retrospective on Kalatazov. It was eventually seen by Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola and they apparently absolutely loved it, especially for the beautifully artistic filming techniques employed by the director. The two agreed to lend their name to the Milestone Films release of the movie and it’s been making the rounds ever since.
Tonight International Lens and Vanderbilt University is screening this almost-forgotten classic for the first time in Nashville. You can see it tonight only at Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Cinema at 7pm.