Calling all cinephiles! Join MFAH Films in celebrating the glory of 35mm on March 5—aka 3.5—the first-ever Reel Film Day. Screenings at independent theaters across the U.S. champion the beauty of 35mm film, cinema’s richest and most enduring format.

Introduced by Rice University professor Luis Dunno-Gottberg

Started only a week after the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, I Am Cuba was designed to be Cuba’s answer to both Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin and Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. Mikhail Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba became a wildly schizophrenic celebration of Communist kitsch, mixing Slavic solemnity with Latin sensuality.

The plots feverishly explore the seductive, decadent, and marvelously photogenic world of Batista’s Cuba, deliriously juxtaposing images of rich Americans and bikini-clad beauties sipping cocktails with scenes of ramshackle slums filled with hungry children and gaunt elderly people. Using lenses that distort and magnify, the acrobatic camera achieves gravity-defying angles as it glides effortlessly through long continuous shots. But I Am Cuba also succeeds in exploring the innermost feelings of the characters and their often desperate situations.

The first movie ever jointly presented by master filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, I Am Cuba is one of the great discoveries in cinema.

About the speaker
Department chair and associate professor of Caribbean and film studies at Rice University, Luis Duno-Gottberg taught at Universidad Simón Bolivar in Caracas, and at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he was director of Caribbean and Latin American studies. He specializes in 19th- and 20th-century Caribbean culture, with emphasis on race, ethnicity, politics, and violence. His current research, Dangerous People: Hegemony, Representation, and Culture in Contemporary Venezuela, explores the relationship between popular mobilization, radical politics, and culture. He is completing a translation and annotated edition of Estela (1853), the first Haitian novel.

Watch on YouTube

Mikhail Kalatozov
Spanish with English subtitles
Cuba/Soviet Union
Running Time
135 minutes
35mm, B/W