Now, the Other Side of Agitprop

By Lynn Cruz

Eliecer Jimenez

HAVANA TIMES — The young filmmaker Eliecer Jimenez has reinterpreted the Cuban classic movie: Now (1965) by Santiago Alvarez. Both on Vimeo, they are the perfect length for viewing online.

From a political stage, where Fidel Castro is a legend, Jimenez uses the same agitprop discourse his predecessor did, relocating the conflict between white and black US citizens in the ‘60s, which concerned Alvarez, to make a new film, at a time where the first Afro-descendant president came into power for the first time in the US.

Barack Obama’s and Raul Castro’s speeches, the thawing process of diplomatic relations, the macabre game between both leaders, who privately discussed the future of both of these nations behind closed doors, the anti-democratic nature of their actions, which led to protests breaking out on Cuba’s streets.

Jimenez shines a light on the different aspects and complexities of the current political landscape here in Cuba. The opposition, breakaway groups, leaders and their disagreements, in an precise editing sequence, where everything has its place.

On the other hand, a part of Cuban History remains hanging. Raul Castro, militarymen, students in uniform, red neckerchiefs.

Like a blow to the President’s military salute, those who are protesting peacefully resist while they are violently repressed.

Cuba, democracy now! Freedom for the Homeland without death! Phrases which unleash the uniformed men’s rage who then attack the unarmed masses with all of their anger.

Power and opposition in the same news broadcast, like a futuristic vision. The camera lens records the present, past and future. All three timeframes in a single second.

Jimenez imitates the rhythm which runs through all of Alvarez’s work in the ‘60s, finding parallels in many of his images as well as in the snapshot technique.

The shot of a Cuban flag floating, the Homeland floating, the Homeland sinking, the Homeland in exile, Cubans drowned by the Homeland. A cry, the horror, anxiety, hunger and fear drawn out in a woman’s face in Cuba right now, in Now (2016).

The most innovative and unprecedented thing about these shots in Cuban film is that the opposition’s faces and actions are being shown for the first time, where before they were just nameless counter-revolutionaries.

The director, as well as remaining consistent with his previous work, the documentary Entropia (2013) and Persona (2014) radicalize, reorganize and control the discourse that ends in a peaceful, silent march of women dressed in white, but in the end, bullets rip through the viewer’s chest even with white.


Now by Santiago Alvarez (1965)


2 thoughts on “Now, the Other Side of Agitprop

  • To use a popular American expression, I would call dissenters in Cuba Tropical Snowflakes. Despite all the attention, support and money they get from powerful allies, the repression they endure absolutely pales in comparison to others in the entire hemisphere.

  • Powerful

Comments are closed.