Taken from OnCuba, by Cecilia Crespo
In November last year, the French channel France O aired the documentary “The Marble Cow” by the renowned critic and film producer Enrique Colina. It was only shown once in Cuba, during the last International Festival of New Latin-American Cinema held in Havana.
Some days ago, a Spanish friend who saw Colina’s documentary asked me about Ubre Blanca. For those who do not know, this was a cow that turned into a media phenomenon in the 1980s. In only one day, it produced 110.9 litres of milk and 27,674.2 litres in 365 days of lactation, pushing Arleen, the North American champion, out of the Guinness World Records.
At that time, many people thought that with this cow, Cuba’s economic problems would be solved. The dream fell apart several months later. Colina, a Cuban master of documentaries, took advantage of the story of Ubre Blanca (White Udder) to metaphorically discuss other failed economic plans carried out some decades ago on the island.
Given the insistence of my friend to know more about this documentary, I decided to contact Enrique Colina. We began by talking about “The Marble Cow”, but this wound up being just a pretext for one of the most lucid intellectuals of our country to talk to us about how he sees the present and the future of Cuba.
Tell us about “The Marble Cow” and its relationship to the Cuba that Cubans experience.
The starting point of this film is the never-ending phenomenon of gauging facts that are somehow exceptional and converting them into paradigms of reality. The documentary expresses what one of the people interviewed says about the Cuban press: it is more propaganda than thoughtful, and it does not offer the symptomatic analysis of reality that we need as citizens.
This is currently being demonstrated in what is happening with the exorbitant price of cars. Everyone in the streets is talking about it and nowhere has the media referenced this event. After yet another meeting of the Union of Journalists, in which they all speak in favor of reflecting reality, nothing ever appears in this respect.
The media phenomenon of Ubre Blanca in the 1980s was impressive. Some years after the propaganda paraphernalia that surrounded its appearance I was on the Isla de la Juventud, where I visited the workshop of the sculptors who made the marble cow. It had already been finished for several years and the authorities had not yet decided where to place the sculpture, whether at the entrance to the airport, in a public square, or at Ubre Blanca’s original home. The sculptors were anxious to get the statue out of the workshop because it took up a lot of space.
From that moment I had the idea of making the documentary, in which this cow could become a symbol, a metaphor of a deranged reality. It is a disorder that even today continues to be represented officially in the cult of a hero placed on a pedestal that, even though there is an overflowing trash bin at its base, is always framed so that only the hero and pedestal appear. Continue reading