Memories of Underdevelopment

(Memorias del subdesarrollo)
Cuba 1968. Dir: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. 97 min. DCP

“As essential as cinema gets ... One of the greatest films ever made.”

NEW 50th ANNIVERSARY RESTORATION! Cuban master Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s exhilarating fifth feature became an unexpected international hit and remains a milestone of Third World and Latin American cinema. Based on a novel by Edmundo Desnoes, Alea’s daring, densely-layered drama charts the growing alienation of Sergio, a sexually-neurotic bourgeois intellectual adrift in Castro’s Cuba. Ambivalent about the country’s revolution, he nonetheless opts to remain in Havana when his family flees for Miami in 1961. Sergio’s sceptical observations and amorous entanglements are interwoven with newsreel material (Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis), hidden-camera footage, and self-reflexive winks (including cameos by Alea and Desnoes). The witty, sophisticated, formally-innovative sensibility seemed a reinvention of political cinema. American pundits were dumbfounded that a work from Communist Cuba could be so ironic, insightful, and complex. New York critics were amazed anew upon the recent release of this 50th-anniversary restoration. Alea co-directed 1993’s Oscar-nominated Strawberry and Chocolate.


“Dazzling ... It’s also a sly and witty but still heartfelt character study ... One of the true greats of radical cinema.”

Time Out | full review

“This audacious, sensual portrait of an alienated intellectual in Castro’s Cuba is one of the great movies of the Sixties.”

The New Yorker | full review