CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY
Already available on DVD, "Cubanos: Life and Death of a Revolution" is an entirely independent documentary that serves as part road movie, part documentary in portraying a people, as filmmaker Yan Giroux notes, who are held prisoner by their nation's history.
Interviewing Cubans even in Havana itself, faces blurred to protect their identities, Giroux uses his camera to create a film that is as much poetry as it is documentary. The film's main subject, Catuey, is a 48-year-old musician whose songs eloquently share of a journey through a lifetime of dictatorship and confused cultural identity for those who live on this island nation.
While it's easy to admire Giroux and his experimental nature, in which community is as much a character as humanity, there are times when "Cubanos" feels so devoted to its impressionistic stylings that the filmmaking feels as confused as the identities of its subjects.
Those familiar with the struggles of Cuba are likely to resonate deeply with the images, words, songs and ideas presented by Giroux, however, a wider audience is likely only to understand the individual testimonies without fully grasping their impact on the nation itself.
Yan Giroux must receive kudos, however, for a documentary as uniquely drawn as the subjects he portrays. Beautifully shot, Giroux was able to land himself inside the country and gain the trust of Cubans who opened their hearts and souls to him.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic