Mikhail Kalatozov, Cuba/USSR, 1964, 141 min., Spanish, English & Russian w/ English subtitles
Produced by Mosfilm and ICAIC, this film started production only a week after the Cuban Missile Crisis, inspired both by Sergei Eisenstein’s propaganda masterpiece Potemkin and Jean-Luc Godard’s freewheeling Breathless. I Am Cuba turned out to be something quite unique—a wildly schizophrenic celebration of Communist kitsch, mixing Slavic solemnity with Latin sensuality. The plot, or rather plots, feverishly explore the seductive, decadent (and marvelously photogenic) world of Batista’s Cuba. deliriously juxtaposing images of rich Americans and bikini-clad beauties sipping cocktails poolside with scenes of ramshackle slums filled with hungry children and gaunt old people. Using wide-angle lenses that distort and magnify and filters that transform palm trees into giant white feathers, Urusevsky’s acrobatic camera achieves gravity-defying angles as it glides effortlessly through long continuous shots. But I Am Cuba is not just a catalog of bravura technique — it also succeeds in exploring the innermost feelings of the characters and their often desperate situations. Mikhail Kalatozov’s mobile, hallucinatory film was initially rejected by both Cuban and Soviet officials for excessive naiveté and an insufficiently revolutionary spirit, and went largely disregarded and almost unknown for nearly 30 years.
Milestone Film & Video’s 4K restoration from the original Gosfilmofond 35mm interpositive and mag tracks was done at Metropolis Post with Jason Crump (colorist) and Ian Bostick (restoration artist). 4K scan by Colorlab, Rockville, MD.
Esta exhibición presenta el trabajo del artista Roger Toledo; sus evocadoras pinturas paisajísticas abordan temas contemporáneos como movilidad y estática, así como el rápido desvanecimiento de indicadores de la historia cubana durante un periodo de cambios acelerados y creciente inestabilidad socioeconómica en la nación isleña. La exhibición ha sido estudiada y desarrollada por estudiantes de Historia del Arte de la Universidad de Pennsylvania, quienes viajaron a La Habana para encontrarse con el artista como parte del seminario curatorial impartido en el Departamento de Historia del Arte por la profesora Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw.
This screening is co-presented in partnership with the exhibition Soy Cuba/ I am Cuba: The Contemporary Landscapes of Roger Toledo on view at the Arthur Ross Gallery from April 6-June 2, 2019. The exhibition presents the work of Cuban artist Roger Toledo whose evocative landscape paintings engage contemporary issues of mobility and stasis, and the rapidly evanescing markers of Cuban history, during a time of rapid change and increasing socio-economic instability in the island nation. The exhibition has been researched and developed by Penn art history students who traveled to Havana to meet with the artist as part of a curatorial seminar taught in the History of Art Department by Professor Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw.
Admission is free for all Penn students and faculty and is offered through the generous support of the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation.