Cuba, the Value of Utopia
Yanara Guayasamin

After the premiere on The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), world’s biggest documentary film festival “Cuba, the Value of Utopia” by Yanara Guayasamin from Ecuador the Belgrade audience was the first to see it at Free Zone festival of ‘involved’ movie.

This socially-committed documentary is an exciting story of the Cuban revolutionaries who in 1959 fought shoulder-to-shoulder with Fidel Castro, won a victory and power in Cuba. It shows the everyday life today and memories of old revolutionaries including Castro himself. They remember the time when they risked their lives to make the dream come true. In the oral tradition, various Cubans report on oppression, violence, arrests, kidnappings, shootouts, escapes, the guerrilla fight from the mountains and the subsequent triumphant entry into Havana.

It’s a breath taking story about one idea and its enormous value. It shows stories from the Batista’s regime and what initiated its fall. Narrators are common people, participants in revolutionary movement and as I wrote, Fidel himself. While they are telling they experience to the camera we can see their everyday activities (except Castro’s of course), where they live, how they live, what their dreams are and how they see revolution now after 47 years.

Every one of them is very proud of what they have done and very proud of their lieder. Indeed, Castro was enormously charismatic and brave young man. His story, the way how he defended himself on the court (“History will set me free”), how he organized his return on Cuba after being banned from the island, how he fought and organized guerilla …etc. it really force you to think is it really true or he is some character from some cheep pulp fiction production? One of those who always win and the bullets are magically avoid him. Really incredible person. And to be honest I didn’t expect that kind of movie.
Title indicates disappointment but it hardly can be seen on the faces of those protagonists.
Indeed, houses where they are living are very poor, bricks in the walls can seen, kitchen accessories are kind of medieval, tables, chairs, paintings, beds, dishes, …etc. is at least 50 years old. BUT those people are happy.

Friend asked me after projection have I saw similarity between Cubans and us 10 years ago (she saw). I haven’t because we were in despair, we had one ‘perfect’ land which was falling apart. We were deeply unhappy nation because some horrible things has been made in our name (against our will), of course horrible things has been committed on each side but somehow we were the ones who paid the biggest price (and we still are paying it). My friend told me that our ex president maybe wanted to be like Fidel (we were also under the sanctions, probably the worst sanctions in history) and that was one of the similarity she saw. Well, we didn’t love our president; on the contrary, huge majority of the population wanted end of his regime. With Cuba is different situation: huge majority supports Fidel and are very proud for what he have done. And now when I had some closer look on the Cuban history I’d be proud on that man too.
Of course I don’t speak about his regime after revolution but on some level I could understand how it must be difficult have America so close and be hated by American government for such a long time. It has devastating effect on life of common people (if ship sail into Cuban port it has prohibition to sail into any US port for 6 months). One young man who’s girlfriend is in Spain said “People are leaving Cuba not because of political issues but economical”. How beautifully naïve…

At the beginning of the movie one man is telling us how he was in shock when he heard that Earth is rotating. “How is that possible? How I don’t fall from the planet?” The teacher said “so it said in encyclopedia”.
“Encyclopedia” ever since that day the man was dreaming to have encyclopedia.
Imagine that dream? That need for knowledge and such a limited possibilities?
Eventually he bought encyclopedia some 15 years after that day when he received his first salary.
Somewhere he said “The greatest treasure for young people are dreams. Person without dreams can’t be happy, and I don’t think about few pair of jeans or to have different shampoo … that can give you satisfaction maybe but will not make you happy. There is huge difference between happiness and satisfaction. The worst enemy of happiness is banality…”

The price for freedom has turned out to be a high one; they admit that they do not live lives of ease, but they would not want to swap their dignified life for the banal consumerism that the United States forces on the world. Looking back on the revolution has its charm, but the upcoming battle will be more important.