14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 4 June 2020 — The most notorious failures of that process called the Cuban Revolution are two: failing to satisfy the material needs of the population and failing to form the “New Man.” At least that is the result of the testimonies collected in The Cuban Theory of the Perfect Society, the documentary film by Ricardo Figueredo Oliva, who wrote the script and was in charge of production and direction.
In a sequence of testimonies, we see, in turn, illegal slaughterers, censored artists, entrepreneurs limited by bureaucratic restrictions, men and women who engage in prohibited gambling, victims of ideological repression of several generations, drug users, adolescents and young people who only think about emigrating.
The absence of a voiceover gives greater prominence to the voices of those interviewed, where coherent pronouncements are mixed with nonsense. Cultural animator Michel Matos, language teacher Reynaldo Mayarí, rappers David Escalona and Raudel Collazo, actor Roberto Gacio, filmmakers Juan Pin Vilar and Eduardo del Llano are responsible for the conceptual discourse while “unknown people of all times” pepper the theory with their anecdotes and events.
If the film were to be judged, at little more than an hour long and taking its title literally, it would have to be said that it would have been healthy to include the opinions of some representatives of official thought and, as a counterpart, at least one pair of political opponents. But that would be another movie.
With just under ten minutes to go before the documentary ends, one of the teenagers interviewed in a park is asked to answer the question of how he imagines the future, but he fights back with a question to his interviewers: “You’re not from here, and aren’t you seeing what it’s like?”
The question transcends the film crew and confronts the viewer himself who is shaken by the resounding evidence. It doesn’t matter if one side of the screen belongs to one generation or another, people more or less believed in official promises and took more or less time to reach disappointment, the reality is resounding and is constantly overshadowed by frustration.
This Cuban theory of the perfect society will probably never fit in the canons of the academy; surely it is classified as enemy propaganda from the official sectors, and as ‘light’ or folkloric from the environments where the overthrow of the dictatorship is the only demand. But it will remain as a testimony of these times, as evidence of the failure.
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