Cuban filmmaker Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

This is a video from the film Guantanamera, by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.

From British daily The Morning Star:

The awkward revolutionary

(Tuesday 15 July 2008)

Interview: Actress MIRTHA IBARRA talks to ALEX LEITH about the career of her late husband Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.

“Hollywood happy endings,” says Cuban actress Mirtha Ibarra, “do nothing to help resolve any problems that the viewer might encounter in the society in which they live.”

Ibarra, who was in London last week to open the Barbican’s Cine Cuba season, is one of the Caribbean island’s most acclaimed actors.

She was married for 23 years to Cuba’s one world-class film director, the late Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, and performed in a number of his works.

You’re most likely to remember her in his Oscar-nominated film Strawberry and Chocolate (1993), which explores the difficulties that a homosexual man has coming to terms with his life in a socialist system.

His first film, the documentary El Megano (1955), was banned by the pre-Castro Batista regime.

One remarkable thing about his subsequent career is that the string of movies that he made for Cuba’s state-run film industry after Castro’s revolution of 1959 were, at times, highly critical of various aspects of the island’s communist system. Yet they were left virtually untouched by the state censors.

In a famous speech made to Cuba’s creative intelligentsia in 1961, Castro decreed something along the lines of: “If you’re with the revolution, you can do what you want. If you are against it, we will allow you to do nothing.”

Alea, more than any other artist, took the first part of Castro’s diktat as far as he could. Titon, the nickname by which he was known in Cuba, “didn’t make one film which didn’t arouse a lot of controversy afterwards,” recalls Ibarra.

“But it is important to realise one thing. At no time was he trying to derail the revolution. He was in favour of the revolution, but aware of many of the problems that the unfolding revolutionary system engendered. He was criticising the system so the system might improve. Without this sort of criticism, there is no chance of improvement.”

1 thought on “Cuban filmmaker Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

  1. Crow sends clear message to Cuba

    SOLIDARITY: Rail union RMT general secretary Bob Crow will be joined by Che Guevara’s daughter Aleida and a host of other special guests on Wednesday evening for the annual RMT Cuba garden party.

    Guests will also be entertained by Alabama 3, the band behind the Sopranos theme song Woke Up This Morning.

    Mr Crow said: “RMT are delighted to be hosting this seventh annual Cuba Garden Party in this very special year marking 50 years of the Cuban revolution.

    “The resilience and determination of the Cuban people to defend their revolution in the teeth of US hostility for 50 years is a lesson to us all. We will be sending a loud and clear message from London to Havana that the Cuban people are not standing alone and that our solidarity is stronger today than it’s ever been.”


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