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I Am Cuba

(Soy Cuba)
(1964, 141 mins, 35mm)
Director:
CAST Sergio Corrieri, Salvador Wood, José Gallardo
Classification: 19+

Showtimes

Jul 22 09:00 pm
Jul 24 03:30 pm

"They’re going to be carrying ravished film students out of the theaters on stretchers," wrote Terrence Rafferty in the New Yorker when this astonishing Soviet-made portrait of Castro’s Cuba was rediscovered in the mid 1990s. Featuring some of the jaw-dropping camerawork ever filmed (and decades before the invention of the Steadicam), the movie is a euphoric celebration of Cuba, the Revolution, and (most potently) revolutionary cinema.

In the early 60s Fidel Castro welcomed radical filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker and Cesare Zavattini to witness his new socialist Cuba, but it was the Russian Mikhail Kalatozov and his collaborators who produced what now looks like the revolution’s most extraordinary art work.

 

Infused with a palpable love for the country and a righteous anger at the injustices of the Batista era, I Am Cuba is a propaganda picture in four narrative sections. In the first, three ugly American businessmen carouse with prostitutes in a bar; in another, a tenant farmer torches the land that has been sold out from under him; a third features a radical student protestor; and the fourth shows a peasant farmer take up a rifle after his son is killed in a air strike on the rebels.

 

The stories are simple polemic, but they assume real power from the spare script by poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and especially from the lyrical, sensuous traveling shots composed by cameraman Sergei Urusevsky, probably the real genius in the team. Using infrared stock, elaborate systems of cranes, cables and pulleys, a wide-angle lens and a blindfold (which he would remove shortly before filming to keep his eye fresh) Urusevsky conjured a fluid, floating dream of Cuba – and a unique aesthetic experience decades ahead of its time.

Screening on 35mm courtesy Milestone Films

"A classic… absolutely astonishing! I Am Cuba is that rarity of rarities, a genuine hidden treasure. It puts to shame anything we’re doing today." Martin Scorsese

"One of the most deliriously beautiful films ever made." Manohla Dargis, LA Weekly

"Some of the most exhilarating camera movements and most luscious black-and-white cinematography you’ll ever see." Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Memories of Underdevelopment

(Memorias del subdesarrollo)
(1968, 97 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
In Spanish with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Sergio Corrieri, Daisy Granados, Eslinda Núñez |
Classification: 19+

Showtimes

Jul 24 06:30 pm

A middle-class intellectual who stayed in Cuba after the

Revolution in 1959 faces a new world he does not seem to grasp. Selected among the best 2000 films of all times by the International Federation of Film-Clubs. Based on Edmundo Desnoes’s award-winning novel.

The story is related in the form of a diary by a prosperous bourgeois who chooses to stay in Havana when his family leaves for the States in 1961. While he rejects many of the bourgeois ideals of his upbringing, he is unable to shake off either sexual neurosis or his European-based intellectual paralysis, continuing to live uncertainly as a rent-drawing property-owner. The ’underdevelopment’ of the title is a complex pun describing both individual and national problems of the revolution in its infancy, though the film is anything but literary in its attack: Alea proceeds with dazzling and highly accomplished technique towards a perceptive and witty analysis.

In a newly formed society driven by collective effort, the extended solipsism engaged by Sergio (Sergio Correri - I Am Cuba) allows him a paradoxical perspective. Like Dostoevsky’s Underground Man, he is an acute observer of people, in a society he is himself utterly alienated from. Through Sergio, Memories of Underdevelopment chronicles a specific historical moment: situated between the Bay of Pigs invasions of April 1961 to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Sergio’s family joins the mass exodus to Miami in the wake of the revolution. Choosing to remain behind, Sergio passes his time in frivolous womanizing despite being haunted by the notion of“underdevelopment”: the consciousness of a wealthy man in a nation beset by poverty.

Tomás Gutiérrez Alea became a shining star of Cuban cinema as a result of the commercial and critical success of Memories of Underdevelopment. Influenced by John Cassavetes and Alain Resnais, Alea fashioned a unique approach to film grammar which dissolved the lines between drama, documentary, essay and newsreel.

"This audacious, sensual portrait of an alienated intellectual in the early days of Castro’s Cuba, released in 1968, is one of the great movies of its era." Michael Sragow, New Yorker

"This transfixing movie, with its mix of freewheeling dialogue scenes, still photo images and documentary footage, conjures up the uncertain mood of Havana just after the revolution." Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Lucia

(1968, 160 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
In Spanish with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Raquel Revuelta, Eslinda Núñez, Adela Legrá
Classification: 19+

Showtimes

Jul 23 04:00 pm

Narrated in three segments, each focused on a woman named Lucia, the film outlines the history of modern Cuba. The 1895 segment transpires in Havana’s aristocracy against the backdrop of the Spanish-American war where Lucia (Raquel Revuelta) compromises her family’s support for Cuban independence when she falls in love with a Spanish gentleman. In the 1930s, an educated middle-class Lucia (Eslinda Núñez - Memories of Underdevelopment) works in a factory while secretly engaged in a romance with an underground freedom fighter opposing the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado. In the 1960s, set in Castro’s Cuba, an illiterate peasant girl named Lucia (Adela Legrá) participates in the literacy drive aimed to spread education among the rural poor. Her self-emancipation is thwarted by her husband who, despite the revolution, remains bound by outdated notions of machismo.

Seeking what he describes as “a coherent, lucid, and dignified appreciation of our national past”, Humberto Solás created a new genre of historical melodramas in Cuban cinema. Lucía was his greatest success, beloved in Cuba and acknowledged as a powerful achievement internationally, gaining a Gold Medal at the Moscow Film Festival of 1969.

"Lucia is a unique amalgam of Soviet style montage, hand-held shots in the manner of the early New Wave, and baroque stylization that recalls Antonioni and Bertolucci." Filmreference.com

"Easily the finest film to come out of Cuba in the ’60s, Solas’ powerful triptych depicts three stages in his country’s - and his countrywomen’s - struggle for liberation. Using a different idiom and visual style for each era (high-contrast melodrama for the 1890s, nostalgic irony for the 1930s, carnival slapstick for the 1960s), he manages, without any political simplifications, to bring the historical process palpably, and humanly, to life." Time Out

"A profound visual experience… a stunning film." K Macduffie, A Guide to Cuban Cinema

Horses (Caballos)

(2015, 95 mins, DCP)
In Spanish with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Alejandro Halley, Carlos Alejandro Halley, Pablo Guevara
Classification: 19+

Showtimes

Jul 24 08:30 pm

Caballos is the story of a young photographer named Robi who finds himself caught between the deep sense of loyalty he has for an older male lover and the desire he feels for an enchanting female singer he meets at a bar, only days before she leaves to Paris.

The film is in part inspired by the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe – who shot the iconic cover photo for Patti Smith’s 1975 album titled “Horses”. Whilst drawing fictionally on those characters, Suarez made his own statement with unique characters, composing a poetic and metaphoric reflection on the nature of horses.

Shot in black-and-white, it is visually inspired by Mapplethorpe’s photos as well as Suárez’s primary cinematic influence, Memorias de subdesarrollo.

"An innovative and exceptional film with countless references to

the life of American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.” World CInema Amsterdam

Behaviour

(Conducta)
(2014, 108 mins, DCP)
In Spanish with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Miriel Cejas, Yuliet Cruz, Armando Valdes Freire
Classification: 19+

Showtimes

Jul 23 07:00 pm

"Brilliant performances and beautiful camerawork combine to make this unembellished look into contemporary Cuba the most notable film since Fernando Perez’s Suite Habana in 2003… From the first minutes it is clear that Conducta is something different. It is an incisive, sensitive, deeply humane artistic look into the harsh and difficult life of individuals who are poverty-stricken and marginalized in Cuba.

The story of Chala, the kid who supports his alcoholic and drug-addicted mother by breeding pigeons and training fighting dogs; who is loved and understood by his old teacher but is sent to a school for children with behavioral problems when the teacher falls ill and is temporarily replaced by an inexperienced young teacher, transcends the anecdotal account to give the viewers truths that some people prefer not to see: the intolerance and unconditional adherence to formalities and bureaucratic rule; the futility of educating within a bell jar and the crime of refusing to alleviate wrongdoings on the pretext that it is not possible to eradicate them entirely.

Conducta manages to deliver without lapsing into sentimentality or didacticism [and] Alejandro Pérez’s photography manages to convey warmth and poetry to a particularly damaged and impoverished area of the city." Victoria Alcalá, Cubaabsolutely.com

Omara: Cuba

(2016, 90 mins, DCP)
In Spanish with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Omara Portuondo, Eusebio Leal, Pablo Milanes, Chucho Valdés, José María Vitier, Rodulfo Vaillant, Amaury Pérez, Rosa Fornes, Luis Carbonell, Fernando Perez
Classification: 19+

Showtimes

Jul 22 06:45 pm

Join us for a filmmaker Q&A, mojitos and more Cuban sounds before and after this screening.

The film documents the 70-year artistic career of the “queen of feeling” or Buena Vista Social Club Diva, as the renowned singer Omara Portuondo is known.

The daughter of a black baseball player and a white woman shunned by her family, Portuondo claims to have had a happy childhood next to her parents and siblings in a Havana neighborhood. As a child, she already felt possessed by music and couldn’t help but stop and listen to a rumba when she went out to get groceries.

Little did she know that she was destined to become one of the most popular of Cuban singers and a kind of cultural icon of the nation.

At age 17, she started out as a singer for the band Loquibambia, next to pianist Frank Emilio and guitarist Antonio Mendez. In 1950, she joined the dance ensemble at Havana’s Tropicana cabaret and became a member of Las mulatas de fuego, directed by choreographer Alberto Alonso.

She would dance at many theaters before joining Orlando de la Rosa’s quartet, with which she traveled to the United States and Canada.

Omara was part of the all-female orchestra Anacaona and travelled to Haiti as a member of this band. One of the most important periods of her career was doubtless from 1953 to 1967, as a founding member of the vocal quartet Las D’Aida. Directed by Aida Diestro, the quartet was made up by Elena Burke, Moraima Secada and her sister Haydee Portuondo. The best cabarets in Havana saw their most prodigious nights thanks to their unparalleled voices. So did many stages in Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States.

At the close of the 60s, she was approached by the Cuban record label Areito, an opportunity she took advantage of to launch her career as an international soloist. She took part in the Cannes Film Festival (France), the Gold Orpheus Festival (Bulgaria), Gold Lira Festival (Bratislava) and Aguas Dulces Festival (Peru), taking the stage in Czechoslovakia, Dresden and Schelager (Germany). She was followed by the journals L’Humanite and L’Unita in France and Italy, respectively.

She was always working in different projects at once. She recorded an album with Julio Gutierrez’ orchestra and Chilean singer Lucho Gatica. She went on a tour with the Cuban percussion band Los Papines. More recently, she has sung next to Brazilian singer Maria Betania and young Cuban musicians Polito Ibañez and David Blanco. She also took part in the “Vida” ballet show directed by Liz Alfonso.

In 1996, she joined the Buena Vista Social Club and was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2001. She finally received a Grammy in 2009 in the category of Best Contemporary Tropical Album for the album Gracias, a collection of solo pieces with traditional melodies, boleros and jazz.

Omara has also had her stints in cinema. She acted in the Cuban films Cecilia (1982) and Baragua (1986), and in Disney’s 49th film, The Princess and the Frog, directed by John Musker and Ron Clements. Omara did the voice of Mama Odie for the film’s Spanish version. She lent her voice to another animated project in 2011, when she sang in both Spanish and Portuguese for a Cuba-Brazil coproduction, El camino de las gaviotas (“The Path of Seagulls”).

About the filmmaker

Lester Hamlet was born in Havana, Cuba in 1971. He has worked as a film editor, writer, cinematographer, and music producer. He co-directed Tres veces dos (2004), which won the Silver Zenith for First Fiction Feature Film at the 28th Montreal World Film Festival. He was the film editor for La edad de la peseta, directed by Pavel Giroud (2006), which was selected in a number of international film festivals and won the Best Film Award at the Cartagena Film Festival. Other titles in his filmography are Casa Vieja (2010) and Fábula(2011).

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

(2016, 98 mins, DCP)
Director:

Showtimes

Aug 05 08:30 pm
Aug 06 06:00 pm

Society depends on the Internet for nearly everything but rarely do we step back and recognize its endless intricacies and unsettling omnipotence. From the brilliant mind of Werner Herzog comes a playful yet chilling examination of our rapidly interconnecting lives. Herzog captures interviews with a treasure trove of strange and beguiling individuals—from Internet pioneers to victims of wireless radiation—whose anecdotes and reflections weave together a complex portrait of our brave new world. The Internet may be, as Herzog states, "one of the biggest revolutions we as humans are experiencing," but he tempers this enthusiasm with tragic stories from victims of online harassment and Internet addiction, wrestling with profound questions about the future of the Internet—and humanity. Is this digitally dominated age humankind’s salvation or a high-speed pipeline to our demise? Shane Smith

"Suggesting that modern cinema’s most prescient work may yet turn out to be The Terminator, Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World takes a simultaneously curious, awe-struck, and terrified look at the origins and future of the web and the interconnected reality it’s begat." Nick Schager, The Playlist

"Expansive and ambitious." The Guardian

"Modestly profound and consistently fascinating." Tim Grierson, Screen International

Tickled

(2016, 92 mins, DCP)
Directors:

Showtimes

Jul 15 08:15 pm
Jul 16 08:00 pm
Jul 17 04:40 pm
Jul 21 02:15 pm

Watching Tickled is best when no one tells you what’s going to happen, or what it’s about, other than this: journalist David Farrier happens to find a strange video online for a sport called "competitive endurance tickling." When he tries to contact the person responsible for posting the video to do a short news story, the response comes laced with such vitriol that he’s compelled to dig deeper to discover what would spark such a reaction. What he finds is bigger and more bizarre than anything you’re likely to imagine. Launched into an increasingly complicated series of stories and situations, Farrier crafts a compelling investigation into a truly peculiar phenomenon that becomes both disturbing and dangerous, guiding the audience deftly through an experience they won’t be able to forget.

"Fascinating and disturbing." 4/5 Norman Wilner, Now

"A fascinating detective story that comes highly recommended." NZ Herald

A Black and White Night with Roy Orbison and Friends (Free)

(1988, 64 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Director:
FEATURING Roy Orbison, Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett, J.D. Souther, Jennifer Warnes, k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits

Showtimes

To celebrate our new Monochrome Mondays summer series, come enjoy a very special evening of rock n roll and rhythm & blues courtesy of the Man in Black, the Big O, Roy Orbison. Orbison would have turned 80 this year, had he lived (he died from a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 52). A year before he passed, he starred in this tribute special, accompanied by an enviable roster of peers and admirers, all under the orchestration of producer T-Bone Burnett.

All Orbison’s hits are featured, including many that carry their own cinematic assocations, most famously In Dreams (Blue Velvet) and Oh Pretty Woman, Only the Lonely, Dream Baby, The Comedians, Ooby Dooby, Leah, Running Scared, Crying and Claudette.

Free screening. Priority seating for ticket holders to The Last Picture Show.

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