Filmmaker Marie Morgan traveled to Cuba in 1969 to discover how the arts fared under the victors of the 1959 Revolution. Were they following the model of Russian realism after 1918, or the more recent very strict regime of Mao’s China? Morgan found that artists were relatively free to pursue their own spiritual paths, subject to the following provisos and problems: first, because of the lack of foreign currency, the materials of art were very difficult to come by—whether paper, paints, leotards, or musical instruments. Second, artists were required to share more than their art with other working people; they were not free to work in isolation in ivory towers but were required to contribute some of their time working in the sugar cane fields, for example.
The film is a short 28 minutes, but provides insight into dance, both modern and classical ballet, visual arts, music, theatre, poster art and even television, of which there were few in the country. Morgan interviewed writer Edmundo Desnos, painter Raoul Martinez and ballet dancer Alicia Alonzo, who at the time was almost blind but still dancing. She also spent time in the sugar cane fields with a modern dance company and theatre troupe as they performed for “peasants” in the countryside.
While the film was made in 1969, the ideas remain fresh and relevant today.
Video Rating: / 5