Friday, March 9, 2018, 4:00 p.m.
PM. 1961. Cuba. Directed by Orlando Jimenez Leal. 13 min.
Jiménez Leal’s documentary was made using footage sourced for a news story about how the Cuban people prepared themselves during the Bay of Pigs invasion. Yet the inclusion of any of these scenes made it impossible to air, as the timing was deemed inopportune by the authorities. The news director proposed reassembling the story by removing the images recorded in bars, and instead concentrating on the military preparations, in order to deliver a more heroic perspective. Jiménez Leal refused, deciding instead to create his own short film from the footage, keeping only the sequences recorded in bars and removing all military images. For this, Jiménez Leal decided to partner with Sabá Cabrera Infante, a young amateur filmmaker and the brother of novelist and film critic Guillermo Cabrera Infante. The subsequent screening and debate over PM, convened by ICAIC in the Casa de las Américas, was the prelude to a series of meetings presided over by Fidel Castro and attended by artists, media directors, and government officials who occupied the National Library in June 1961. Castro’s interventions were published under the title “Words to the Intellectuals,” a document that condemned all artistic creation that expressed a point of view different from the official one. The concluding phrase, “Within the Revolution, everything, against the Revolution, nothing,” established the government’s rules and defined its cultural policy for the future.
Conducta impropia (Improper behavior). 1983. France. Directed by Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jimenez Leal. 112 min.
Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jimenez Leal’s documentary, which won first prize at the Festival of the Rights of Man in Strasbourg and Best Documentary at the Barcelona Film Festival, recounts the persecution of homosexuals and intellectuals in Cuba from the beginning of the Cuban Revolution until the early 1980s—directly from the mouths of those who suffered it. The film, which was never publicly screened in Cuba, reflects a historical overview of the repression that took place in Cuba against all those whose personal behavior went beyond the parameters established by Castroism. Vincent Canby, in his critique for The New York Times, wrote, "Improper Conduct is an intelligent criticism of the Cuban revolution, the testimony is as brutal as it is convincing." Among the important figures of Cuban culture who offer testimonies are Lorenzo Monreal, Luis Lazo, Rafael de Palet, Jorge Lago, Reinaldo Arenas, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Juan Abreu, Carlos Franqui, Martha Frayde, Ana Maria Simo, René Ariza, Juan Goytisolo, Hernero Padilla, Susan Sontag, Armando Valladares, Gilberto Ruiz, Jorge Ronet, and Juan Abreu.