I am Cuba, the Siberian Mammoth
I am Cuba, the Siberian Mammoth
IDFA 2011

I am Cuba, the Siberian Mammoth

Soy Cuba, o Mamute Siberiano
Vicente Ferraz Goncalves
90 min
Festival history
In Cuba, director Vicente Ferraz speaks with surviving cast and crew members of , a black-and-white film from 1964 by Russian director Mikhail Kalatozov (1903-1973). In 1958, Kalatozov won the Golden Palm in Cannes with . This gave him carte blanche for , which resulted in a shoot that lasted over a year, as the interviewees distinctly remember. Using archive footage, Ferraz places the Cuban-Russian alliance within the historical perspective of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but he primarily pays attention to the experiences of cast and crew. He talks with actors and with Alfredo Guevarra, the founder of the Cuban Film Association. Everyone still speaks highly of Kalatozov and his cameraman Sergei Urusevsky, but they criticize the slow, stylized end result. Ferraz shows two of the exceptionally long shots for which the camera covers an improbable distance, up and down along buildings. The film flopped in Cuban and Russian theaters and was only rediscovered in 1995 as a masterpiece and rereleased by American directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. Ferraz's interviewees apparently did not know this yet; amazed, they read the praise on the box of the videocassette.
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