Loyola University – downtown
Corboy Law Center Room 423
25 E. Pearson (one block north of Chicago and State L stop)
Thursdays at 7 pm
July 17 Strawberry and Chocolate
Tomas Gutierrez Alea 1995 108 min
This breakthrough film did much to change popular attitudes towards gays in Cuba. Diego, a cultivated homosexual and skeptical young man, falls in love with a young heterosexual communist full of prejudices and doctrinaire ideas. First come rejection and suspicion, but also fascination. Fresa y Chocolate is the story of a great friendship, that is, a great love between two men, which overcomes incomprehension and intolerance. The film is an attack on sexual, political and religious intolerance. It is the first Cuban film ever nominated for an Academy Award as best foreign language film.
July 31 Death of a Bureaucrat
Tomas Gutierrez Alea 1966, 85min
A Cuban worker dies accidentally and is buried together with his union card. It soon turns out that the widow will absolutely need the card for claiming her pension. Young nephew starts his hilarious fight against the institutionalized bureaucracy in order to surreptitiously disinter and rebury his uncle and retrieve the precious document. This was the first great Cuban film of international significance.
August 14 Waiting List
Juan Carlos Tabio 2000, 106 min
Juan Carlos Tabio’s magical comic hit is almost a Cuban-socialist-humanist Waiting for Godot. A run-down bus station in rural Cuba is the setting, a disparate group of passengers are the characters, and it’s the bus for which they wait and which never arrives. As they come to the realization that they’re stuck living in the station, they use their time to fix it up, and to engage in amorous pursuits. Set in the Special Period, Waiting List shows what the Cuban people can accomplish left to themselves, and serves as an allegory for Cuba surviving alone in the 1990s.
August 21 Viva Cuba
Juan Carlos Cremata Malberto 2005 80 min
The friendship between two children is threatened by their parents’ differences. Malu is from an upper-class family and her single mother does not want her to play with Jorgito, as she thinks his background coarse and commonplace. Jorgito’s mother is a poor socialist that is proud of her family’s social standing. She places similar restriction on her son, who does not want him playing with the daughter anti-revolutionary family. What neither woman recognizes is the immense strength of the bond between Malu and Jorgito. When the children learn that Malu’s mother is planning to leave Cuba, they decide to run away and travel to the other side of the island to find Malu’s father and persuade him against signing the forms that would allow it. The story of their escape across the island is a very touching on.
The film is a call for respecting children’s needs and concerns, so often overlooked by adults. The film’s many international awards and recognitions are justified not only for the amazing performances of the two young actors but the message of humanism it puts across.
August 21 Up to a Certain Point
Tomas Gutierrez Alea 1983 72 min
A film that questions the hypocrisy of men who profess support for women’s rights but fail to challenge their own old-fashioned attitudes. Intellectuals who look down on workers are also lampooned. Oscar, a successful playwright married to an actress, is at work on his first screenplay, on the lingering presence of Latin-style machismo in progressive, supposedly egalitarian Cuba. To research the subject, he begins conducting interviews with male and female workers at the Havana docks — and finds himself falling in love with liberated Lina, a beautiful young dockworker. When Oscar and Lina embark on an affair, it quickly becomes apparent that, under his liberated veneer, Oscar is pretty much mired in tired old machismo himself. The drama is intercut with actual video interviews with Cuban workers, one of whom declares that women should be free, `up to a certain point. Alea saves his sharpest barbs for quasi- bourgeois intellectuals like Oscar with their preconceived notions about the proletariat.
Some tours to Cuba: