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Memories of Underdevelopment
Strawberry and Chocolate

LUCIA(1968 / B/W) Director: Humberto Solas
LUCIA is composed of three separate episodes, each set in a different historical period, and each dealing with a different class—the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, the peasantry—the class in the foreground of the particular historical moment in question. Each episode revolves around a woman called Lucia, and each chronicles a stage in a threefold struggle: for the personal liberation of the individual from restrictive roles imposed by class and sex, for the decolonization and transformation of Cuba, and for an authentic national film style free from the models imposed by Western cultural colonialism, and adequate to render the reality of the new Cuba.

One of the strengths of LUCIA is its sensitivity to the complex interplay between historical destiny and private experience. Each Lucia is the locus of intersection between large social changes and sharply perceived personal needs. Each makes choices whose sources are at once public and private. But it is a testimony to the honesty of this film that political changes, difficult as they are to achieve and consolidate, are often more easily made than transformations of deeply ingrained cultural and social attitudes which directly oppress individuals, especially women.


(1968, B/W) Director: Tomas Alea
Hailed as one of – if not the most – sophisticated film ever to come out of Cuba, Memories Of Underdevelopment (Memorias Del Subdesarollo) is visionary Cuban director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s tour de force.
Listed at number fifty-four on Derek Malcolm’s 100 Greatest Movies, this cinematic masterpiece will receive a theatrical release on 11 July 2008. Memories Of Underdevelopment follows Sergio (Sergio Corrieri - Soy Cuba), through his life, following the departure of his wife, parents and friends in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Alone in a brave new world, Sergio observes the constant threat of foreign invasion, before meeting Elena (Daisy Granados), a young woman he seeks to mould into the image of his ex-wife, but at what cost to himself?

Even though director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea was a staunch and devoted supporter of the revolution, Memories of Underdevelopment offers a raw and uncompromising analysis of the newly formed system of government. Through a moving blend of narrative fiction, still photography and rare documentary footage, Alea catalogues the intricacies of the early days of the Castro regime; producing a stirring and enigmatic work that feeds off the culture of the very subject it is studying: Cuba.

(1994 / Colour) Director: Tomas Alea
In Tomas Gutierrez Alea's "Strawberry and Chocolate," set in 1979, Cuban life is so ingrained with politics, you're implicated no matter what you do. Raising a glass of Johnny Walker, for instance, is sampling the drink of the enemy. Not reporting suspicious goings-on to the authorities is grounds for arrest. As for being gay, it's taboo politically and culturally.
What the movie shows best is the direct connection between politics and private life. This is a world where you turn up the music in your apartment to say anything confidential, where everyone depends on American dollars and where little jokes are laced with leaden seriousness. Offering David a glass of American whiskey to toast their new friendship, Diego teases, "Couldn't this affect you ideologically?"

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