Magazine article American Libraries

See You in C-U-B-A

Magazine article American Libraries

See You in C-U-B-A

Article excerpt

The title of this column comes from an Irving Berlin ditty that typifies the sunny, sybaritic image of Cuba in the American popular imagination in the years before mid-century ("where dark-eyed Stellas light their feller's panatellas . . ."). This view of Cuba was to grow increasingly darker and recondite following World War II, with intimations of political brutality, corruption, and Yanqui-dollar decadence slowly supplanting earlier visions of tropical paradise.

Then, in 1959, history conspired to give us an entirely new set of Cuban images, selectively served up by screaming headlines and nightly news. The pictures of early revolutionary Cuba were almost uniformly strained through a haze of media disinformation and Cold War paranoia: the tragi-comic opera of the Bay of Pigs.

Like the ensuing U.S. economic embargo of Cuba, the last two decades have seen a virtual two-way Cuban image embargo. The videos discussed below break that embargo by providing complex and thought-provoking glimpses of Cuban society after Fidel.

Cuba Va: The Challenge of the Next Generation. A documentary by Gail Dolgin and Vincente Franco. 1993, $95. English and Spanish with subtitles, 59 min. Cuba Va Project, 12 Liberty St., San Francisco, CA 94110; 415-282-1812.

A fascinating and unique look at the hearts and minds of Cuba's post-revolution baby boomers. Shot in bright, briskly edited video, Cuba Va lets us listen in on a generation furiously and eruditely debating with itself in parks, universities, and student apartments on issues ranging from the merits, failures, and future of socialism and the revolution to strategies for social and economic change. The voices raised in debate include both the new revolutionary vanguard as well as an unprecedented cadre of young dissenters. Regardless of the ideological camp or the view of the future, this is a culture raised as much on rock and roll as on Marxist rhetoric, one that dresses, dances, and debates in radically different ways than a generation earlier. Cuba Va presents a wonderfully engaging and evenhanded portrait of this next generation.

Miami-Havana. A documentary by Estela Bravo. 1994,$125. English and Spanish with subtitles, 52 min. …

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