Cuba’s Film

Dariela Aquique

De "La Pelicula de Ana"
De “La Pelicula de Ana”

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) has given birth to a new film: La pelicula de Ana (Ana’s Film), based on real events that took place in Havana in the 1920s.

With a script by the well-known duo of Eduardo del Llano and Daniel Diaz Torres (and directed by the latter), the recent release features outstanding performances by Laura de la Uz and Yuliet Cruz, as well as ones by foreign artists Michael Ostrowski and Tobias Langhoff.

La película de Ana tells another story of our harsh reality. It belongs to that long list of Cuban films of the last decade that chronicle a society in crisis.

Ana, a television actress, is forced to pose as a prostitute named “Ginette,” and she agrees to be filmed by foreigners, bearing witness to her life to make $500 and to buy a refrigerator for her home.

Later the offer becomes more tempting when the amount goes up to $3,000, but this time it will be for a feature film and will require the filming of her daily life – her at home and with family members and friends in their daily struggles.

This is a rough summary of the film. But its ending isn’t a happy one. Ana ends up being discovered, so the film is never shot. Her husband, fearful of being involved with charges of fraud, ultimately turns in the copies he shot.

Ana, while walking along outside, is approached by some tourists who make suggestive propositions to her. With her hands, she makes a frame, as if they were filming her. This winds up being her movie.

Beyond the peculiarities of this film (and not to put it down), it gives me that déjà vu feeling – with shots of a bleak Havana, its decaying urban backdrop and everything falling apart. It’s full of the typical family conflicts, poverty, prostitution, and situations of the foreigner vs. the Cuban.

Since the 90’s we’ve been seeing films that display abysmal social differences, the desire to leave the country, various forms of corruption, hunger, etc.

All of these — though different and centered on varying arguments — give the impression that they’re each more of the same.

Art is a reflection of its time. Though with distinct casts, uneven plots and different directors, films like Habana Blues, Frutas en el cafe, Los Dioses rotos (and other less happy or less widely screened ones like Melaza, Una Noche and Botero) could all be Ana’s film – and, in turn, all of them are Cuba’s film.



Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

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2 thoughts on “Cuba’s Film

  • It’s because the film world outside of Hollywood does not pretend even their older audience are little kids and that we live in a fairy-tale world, where the ‘good’ always beats the ‘bad’ in the end.

    Damned Spielberg and Lucas. They ruined everything good the US film market was doing at the end of the 60’s and though the 70’s.

  • It is widely accepted that the visual arts produced by a society typically reflect the unspoken fears and anxieties and the hopes and dreams of that society at that time. Cuba, and its current spate of prostitution, poverty and despair films reflect a Cuba not reflected by the official media but that exists for a great number of Cubans. What is most intriguing is that these films, books and art exhibits typically end sadly. Seldom does the hero come to the rescue and save society. Rather most reflect a strong sense of victimization and undeserved suffering and point toward an uncertain future. Is art imitating life?

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