Cuba Va: The Challenge of the Next Generation

(Documentary, in Spanish, 16mm Color)

Sundance Film Festival l994 (Documentary Competition)–Cuba Va is an intriguing, if not entirely successful, attempt to reassess Cuba's current socio-economic crisis as seen by its youth a generation after Castro's 1959 revolution. Docu suffers from an unclear structure and coverage of too many issues for its short running-time, but its fascinating subject, balanced approach, and direct strategy should facilitate showings on the festival circuit, public TV, universities, and other educational venues.

The novelty of Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco's docu is that it tries to present the spectrum of opinions on Cuba's current problems by both the fervent socialists and the disillusioned opponents. All the interviewees were born and lived their entire lives in socialist Cuba, which means that unlike their ancestors they have no means of comparison of Castro's with the former regime.

The youths debate the merits of socialism versus capitalism, the need for economic reform, the fear of American–and other foreign–intervention in Cuba's internal affairs. “Our greatest dream is to determine our own future,” says one Cuban with utmost conviction. Some youngsters feel that to achieve a fair assessment of the crisis, Cuba should be compared to Latin American-not Western–societies.

As expected, Castro's admirers vow allegiance and commitment to continue his Revolution. They therefore stress that education is free, that school diplomas guarantee jobs, and that there is no unemployment. In contrast, disenchanted dissidents complain about economic rationing, scarcity of basic products–and political repression. As one university student says, tuition may be free, but education isn't–the price is ideological. The proof: Cuba is one of the few countries in which students organizations actively support the government.

Chief problem of Cuba Va is that it's too short to encompass the full spectrum of opinions on such a wide range of issues. The fast pacing of the interviews and the quick jumps from one topic to another contribute to an incoherent structure and also clash with the filmmakers' serious intent. Docu also glosses over the issue of America's vast influence on Cuba's popular culture, as evidenced in the country's fashion and rap music.

Even so, at a time when youths of other countries show political apathy and alienation, the vigor, diversity, and commitment of Cuba's younger generation is most impressive.

Credits

A Cuba Va Film Project production. Produced, directed, and edited by Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco. Camera, Franco and Jessie Block; lighting, Charles Griswold, Alan Steinheimer; sound, Marcio Camara; associate producer, Judith Montell.

Running time: 59 min.