Memories of Underdevelopment was restored by the Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC). Even his writing ambitions are that of the dilettante. Do the Cubans abandon older but familiar tools such as panel discussions, or try to build new political tools from scratch? Director, Tomas Gutierrez Alea: restored B/w print from Cineteca di Bologna with introduction by Martin Scorcese on the tricky restoration process. Intimate and densely layered, Memories of Underdevelopment provides an indictment of its protagonist’s disengagement and an extraordinary glimpse of life in postrevolutionary Cuba. He declines to join the rush and chooses to stay in his well-appointed Havana apartment. His disdain for fellow bourgeoisie doesn’t extend to abandoning the privileges or attitudes that comes with his social class. The Cuban film Memories of Underdevelopment, directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, deals with the topic of underdevelopment in a number of ways.Primarily the film concerns itself with the life and thoughts of a bourgeois intellectual, Sergio, who has literally stayed behind after the revolution. There are scenes of the protagonist’s watching news footage of white cops putting down black Civil Rights protesters that suggests he prefers being the proverbial big fish in the small pond of post-Revolutionary Cuba. Housekeeper Noemi’s failure to wear sufficient makeup for Sergio’s taste makes her semi-invisible despite her model-like figure. But that sympathy dries up quickly given the age and social power difference between the 38-year-old Sergio and the 16-year-old Elena as well as the film’s playing to the “women lying about being raped” stereotype. For that matter, do Alea’s close ups of ordinary Cubans’ faces show they possess the capacity to make a revolutionary societal transition? Tomás Gutiérrez Alea brought cinema to the center of Cuban society with this richly ambiguous portrait of postrevolutionary Havana. But parking himself in front of a typewriter seems less important than starting or ending affairs with such young women as Elena (Daisy Granados). A scene from Memories of Underdevelopment. It uses the combination of narrative, documentary and still photographs that defined what was called the "urgent cinema" of Santiago Alvarez and others. Besides youth and beauty, Elena’s interest to Sergio is as someone who might be molded to share his appreciation of current European art and culture. Restored by the Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC). “Memories of Underdevelopment” was a production of ICAIC, the Cuban Institute of Art and Film Industry. With this adaptation of an innovative novel by Edmundo Desnoes, Gutiérrez Alea developed a cinematic style as radical as the times he was chronicling, creating a collage of vivid impressions through the use of experimental editing techniques, archival material, and spontaneously shot street scenes. Instead, this week marks the second of three weekly PFA screenings of a 50th anniversary 4K digital restoration of Alea’s film. Tensions sparked by the Cuban Missile Crisis forces Sergio to eventually face the truth about his situation. Restoration funded by the George Lucas Family Foundation and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project. Sergio’s ultimate inability to understand that point ironically means that this self-styled observer’s own political awareness remains trapped in a state of underdevelopment, (“Memories Of Underdevelopment” screens at the Pacific Film Archive (2155 Center Street, Berkeley) on January 26, 2018 at 7 PM and February 3, 2018 at 5 PM. The pioneering filmmaker and historian stopped by our offices to pick up an eclectic mix of Hollywood and art-house classics that have shaped her love of cinema. The protagonist’s curiosity about post-Revolution intellectual discussions stops well short of deep diving into post-Revolution politics. What makes Alea’s film timeless is its portrait of a Third World country trying to transition away from its economic and cultural colonial past. Directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea • 1968 • Cuba. Even with its retrograde sexual politics, there are good reasons to see this amazing mix of documentary, drama, and polemic. Current attitudes would brand Sergio’s feelings about the women in his life as period sexist. The Bay Area theatrical premiere of Tomas Gutierrez Alea’s classic of Cuban cinema “Memories of Underdevelopment” makes a very opportune arrival. To order advance tickets, go to https://bampfa.org/event/memories-underdevelopment-2 ), https://bampfa.org/event/memories-underdevelopment-2. Sergio may seem the ideal neutral observer. By posing provocative questions about revolutionary politics, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea brought Cuban filmmaking onto the international stage. Sergio is flawed, but never inauthentic or inhuman. After his wife and family flee in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the bourgeois intellectual Sergio (Sergio Corrieri) passes his days wandering Havana in idle reflection, his amorous entanglements and political ambivalence gradually giving way to a mounting sense of alienation. The following is a segment from an audio interview with director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea recorded by Silvia Oroz for her 1989 book “Tomás Gutiérrez Alea: Los filmes que no filmé.”. In 1968 and after, many saw it as a burning indictment of the passive intellectual refusing to engage in revolution. But the genius of the film lies in its showing how politics is intertwined with the act of living. Ex-wife Laura’s treating Sergio’s gratuitous recording of their supposedly intimate conversations as a deal-breaking moment seem to him unreasonable. With this adaptation of an innovative novel by Edmundo Desnoes, Gutiérrez Alea developed a cinematic style as radical as the times he was chronicling, creating a collage of vivid impressions through the use of experimental editing techniques, archival material, and spontaneously shot street scenes. Yet despite its imperfections and unfinished nature, it’s still something worth defending. A viewer may semi-sympathize with Sergio’s fighting Elena’s false rape accusation. This film by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea is the most renowned work in the history of Cuban cinema. This week, number 54: Tomas Gutierrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment Derek Malcolm Thu 10 Feb 2000 07.46 EST First published on Thu 10 Feb 2000 07.46 EST But the sequence’s biggest sting comes with linking the torturer’s station to the existence of bourgeoisie such as Sergio. Admittedly, in the fifty years since Alea’s film was completed in 1968, various Bay Area venues have screened the film. His self-involvement also makes him blind to how his lifestyle rests on free-riding off his countrymen’s revolutionary work. It denounces a system that allows individuals to escape culpability for allowing a torturer and murderer to thrive in the system’s ranks. When his attempts at cultural uplift don’t take with Elena, Sergio loses interest in her. The film is based on the Edmundo Desnoes semi-autobiographical novel “Inconsolable Memories.” Sergio (Sergio Corrieri), the Desnoes stand-in, begins the film witnessing his friends and family become part of the Cuban bourgeoisie exodus to Miami. His uncomplimentary thoughts about best friend Pablo and fellow Cuban bourgeoisie apparently show little love for the old order. A new episode of Observations on Film Art examines how this landmark of Cuban cinema takes viewers deep inside its protagonist’s mind. Classics and discoveries from around the world, thematically programmed with special features, on a streaming service brought to you by the Criterion Collection. They were recorded in San Francisco and Miami in 2018. Memories of Underdevelopment is an empathetic portrait of an unsympathetic man. Sergio, the protagonist of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s Memories of Underdevelopment, is a study in living obsolescence. Ostensibly, Desnoes’ protagonist aims to write a book about life in post-Revolution Cuba. This program features interview with film critics B. Ruby Rich and José Antonio Évora. Get info about new releases, essays and interviews on the Current, Top 10 lists, and sales. Otherwise, Alea prefers to make his political points by metaphor. Unsurprisingly, Sergio turns out to be a rentier. An alleged lack of time prevented Sergio from trying writing before. This film by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea is the most renowned work in the history of Cuban cinema. Documentary footage of police repression and mention of the burning of a Tiffany’s-like department store illustrate the legacy that the Cubans want to leave behind. Stars Sergio Corrieri and Daisy Granados as the good looking lovers of the tale. After his wife and family flee in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the bourgeois intellectual Sergio (Sergio Corrieri) passes his days wandering Havana in idle reflection, his amorous entanglements and political ambivalence gradually giving way to a mounting sense of alienation. Speaking of privilege and class are not irrelevant tangents in discussing “Memories of Underdevelopment.” Alea’s film is very deeply steeped in politics. Perhaps now it is easier to glean aims that were, for the filmmaker, far subtler. “Memories Of Underdevelopment” paints the Cuban Revolution as an ongoing work in progress. Sergio is well aware that fleeing to Miami means setting himself up for living as low a social lifestyle as America’s blacks. So if Sergio’s observations need to be taken with noticeable skepticism, what impressions can be gleaned about this anti-hero? This film by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea is the most renowned work in the history of Cuban cinema. But the Pacific Film Archive (PFA) screenings of “Memories of Underdevelopment” is not a “blink once and you’ll miss it” screening of an incredibly worn print. Yet the film reveals Sergio to be unreliable as a neutral observer. After his wife and family flee in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the bourgeois intellectual Sergio (Sergio Corrieri) passes his days wandering Havana in idle reflection, his amorous entanglements and political ambivalence gradually giving way to a mounting sense of alienation. Yet the way forward is not clear. Intimate and densely layered, MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT provides an indictment of its protagonist’s disengagement and an extraordinary glimpse of life in postrevolutionary Cuba. Sergio’s ultimate inability to understand that point ironically means that this self-styled observer’s own political awareness remains trapped in a state of underdevelopment (“Memories Of Underdevelopment” screens at the Pacific Film Archive (2155 Center Street, Berkeley) on January 26, 2018 at 7 PM and February 3, 2018 at 5 PM. New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, New interviews with film critics B. Ruby Rich and José Antonio Évora, New interview with novelist and screenwriter Edmundo Desnoes, Segment from a 1989 audio interview with Gutiérrez Alea, Segments from 2017 interviews with actor Daisy Granados and editor Nelson Rodríguez from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Visual History Program collection, Plus: An essay by author Joshua Jelly-Schapiro.
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