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Memories of Underdevelopment (15)

John Akomfrah Presents...

Still from Memories of Underdevelopment

This landmark political film shows Cuba at a critical moment in its history, and offers an insightful reflection on what it’s like to be an outsider at a time of change.

Set in 1961, the film unfolds between the exodus after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion and the missile crisis of the following year. Sergio, a wealthy man, stays behind while the rest of his family leaves for the States. Sceptical of the promises of a new Cuba, he feels alone in a brave new world, unable either to leave or to come to terms with the changes happening around him.

The film leaves us to ponder who or what is “undeveloped” in the scenario it presents: Sergio himself, as citizen and human being, or the state of the nation in the aftermath of the Batista regime? It was the subtlety and sophistication of its political analysis – exceptional in a product of Cuba’s state-sponsored film industry of the time – plus its stylistic virtuosity which led this film to become the first from post-revolutionary Cuba to gain widespread international acclaim. 

“A clever film that may be provocatively political . . . but still has an infectious sense of fun and creative joy.” Film4 

Cuba 1968 Dir Tomás Gutiérrez Alea 104 min Digital presentation 

Restored by the Cineteca di Bologna at L' Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos (ICAIC). Restoration funded by the George Lucas Family Foundation and The Film Foundation's World Cinema Project


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