DER Documentary

Cubanos, Life and Death of a Revolution

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by Yan Giroux
color, 52 min / 86 min, 2007
16:9 widescreen

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Cubanos draws an impressionist portrait of the international Cuban community, whose identity has been fragmented by 48 years of dictatorship, as it struggles to leave the 20th century behind. While the music barely camouflages the misery and corruption in Cuba, the buzz and hum of industry and media fails to mask the cultural gap between the active Cuban community in Miami and their home island.

The film's main character, Catuey, a Cuban musician living in Québec, fills his songs with images of an ideal Cuba hurt by the division of its people and the group-think that prevails in Miami. As he travels, Catuey is confronted with contradictions among his countrymen and his own demons, and ends his odyssey drained and disappointed not to have found a simple path to reconciliation. Rather than sensationalizing this cultural disconnect, Cubanos takes a holistic approach to foretelling the identity issues the Cuban community will face upon the death of Fidel Castro.

Filmmaker Yan Giroux's camera scans the day-to-day lives of Cubans in Cuba and Miami for vestiges of the revolutionary dream and translates the chaos of the Cubans' reality into a set of evocative signs. While Catuey and the interviewees try to define themselves both as individuals and as Cubans, the camera paints a broader, more complex portrait of a people held prisoner by their history. Amidst Havana's ruins, the interviewees' faces are blurred to protect their identities, a formal constraint that becomes an aesthetic symptom in the crumbling landscape of Cuban communism. Echoing each other throughout the film, interviews and travel scenes explore the many facets of a culture that is developing differently on either side of the Straits of Florida.

A faded flag flutters in the wind as a saw whines, far away. Catuey croons Cuba's national anthem like a lullaby. The ambiguity between dream and nightmare is what defines this revolution, its romanticism tattered by disillusionment.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
The Accolade award, US Super 8 and DV festival, New Jersey, 2008
AFIA Film Festival, Denmark, 2008
ReelHeART International Film Festival, Toronto, Canada, 2008
Indianapolis International Film Festival, 2008
Long Island Latino International Film Festival, NY, 2008
Boston Latino International Film Festival, MA, 2008
Detroit Docs International Film Festival, MI, 2008

Related Resources
Read an interview with Cubanos filmmaker Yan Giroux on the blog Ethno Cuba.

View more photos on

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