Humberto Solás, perhaps the premier Cuban filmmaker of the 20th century, was featured in a documentary done by Carlos Barba Salva, screened at the MiraCosta College LIFE @ San Elijo program, Friday, March 4, 2016.
Solás' work spanned the years from the nascent revolutionary times of Fidel Castro's regime in the early 60's. through Cuba's social, economic and political struggles over the decades leading up to the modern day. Solás’ films, often told from the point of view of a woman, illustrate the fundamental struggles of the people of Cuba through the turbulent years of revolution, to the post-revolutionary disillusionment. His films drew from the cultural heritage of the Cuban people in sharp contrast to the more sanitized Hollywood depictions of carefree island life.
Barba Salva's documentary revealed the many conditions under which Humberto Solás created Cuban films, from the relatively opulent times when the USSR's support of Cuba provided funds along with so-called "parameters"-- what we might call censorship-- to the lean and hungry years after the Soviet Union failed and Cuba was thrown into economic crisis. During those lean years Solás' craft was idle until he founded an international film festival called Cine Pobre, or Cinema of the Poor (poor as in under-funded). During these years Cuban cinematographers, along with others in Europe and South America, were grappling with mastering the new techniques involved with the digital cinema equipment, and at the same time burdened by the lack of funds and other material resources formerly available to them. In 2001, Solás made Miel para Oshun, followed by Barrio Cuba in 2005, both of which achieved critical acclaim.
I had never known of Solás' films, since they were Cuban and didn't screen in the US. As a result of watching this documentary, I now want to see all of his films and learn more about him as a filmmaker. Barba Salva’s documentary was a wonderful depiction of how Solás had to walk a fine line of being to be true to his art, while not being silenced by the government censorship that limited his artistic expression. Carlos Barba Salva answered questions after the screening and left the audience with a newfound appreciation for his friend and mentor, Humberto Solás.