Cuban Revolutionary Cinema | Memorias del subdesarrollo

Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 7:00pm

Memorias del subdesarrollo | Memories of Underdevelopment
(Tomás Gutíerrez Alea, 1968)

Framing the unfolding of time in Tomás Gutierréz Alea’s Memories of Underdevelopment [Memorias del subdesarrollo] is the Bay of Pigs Invasion of April 1961 and the October Missile Crisis of October 1962. The film opens in the Havana airport, in the midst of the departing first wave of exiles from Cuba, as the bourgeois “anti-hero,” Sergio, equivocally kisses his parents and wife goodbye. It ends with Sergio deep within an existential crisis: is it the island in which he lives or he who is “underdeveloped”? And yet, while intense historical moments frame the film, it is the gaze of a black woman through a dancing crowd that first fixes the camera and the viewer, and the dissolution of the face of Sergio as he walks in solitude that leaves the viewer in a state of questioning. Co-written with Edmundo Desnoes, the author of the novella by the same name, of all of Gutiérrez Alea’s films, Memories perhaps most radically bears his cinematographic signature, which signifies a mixture of cinéma verité, Italian neo-realism, French New Wave, moments of self-referentiality, and the desire to intertwine Cinema with the formation of a new human subject.

Memorias del subdesarrollo will be introduced by Rachel Ellis Neyra. Ellis Neyra teaches in English, Romance Languages and Cinema Studies at the University of Pennsylvania as a Lecturer. She is at work on her first book on New World Poetics, which rethinks Latina/o and Caribbean Poetics in a comparative and hemispheric context. She has essays forthcoming in Sargasso and Obsidian. A bilingual book of her poems, Respiros de un nacer, is forthcoming in Havana.

The 2012 Cuban Revolutionary Cinema Series is made possible thanks to the support of University of Pennsylvania's Center for Africana Studies, Cinema Studies Program, Department of English, Department of Hispanic Studies, and Latin American and Latina/o Studies, and the International House of Philadelphia.
Special thanks: Rachel Ellis Neyra, Curator of the Film Series.


Cinema Studies Program
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