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I am Cuba
(Yo Soy Cuba)

Screening on Film
Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov.
USSR, 1964, 35mm, black & white, 141 min.
Multilingual with subtitles.
Print source: HFA

Reminiscent of the city symphonies of the 1920s and inspired by Eisenstein’s unfinished film ode to Mexico (Que Viva Mexico!), Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba is a loving portrait of Mother Cuba by Mother Russia that juxtaposes the harsh realities of life during the Batista era with the perceived triumphs of the then-recent Castro revolution. Composed in four episodes, the film crisscrosses the country from urban slums to lush countryside, embellishing its predictable messages with Sergei Urusevsky’s striking widescreen black-and-white cinematography and an equally emphatic Afro-Cuban score. The result is an engaging time capsule of the first flush of life after the revolution, which marks the reemergence of a potent new form of radical film practice born of that earlier revolution in Russia.

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Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive: E–I

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Devour the Land: Cinema, landscape, history.