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Mauvaise conduite


filmmakers : Néstor Almendros, Orlando Jiménez Leal
Composer : Celia Cruz, Juan F. Miranda, Martha Pérez
France, 1984
Production : Les Films du Losange
112'
Spanish
French


Synopsis


1984. Castro’s revolution is twenty-five years old, so it’s the perfect moment to take stock using archives and above all the points of view of homosexual and intellectual Cuban exiles and their fellow travellers at the time. Some of their accounts are counterbalanced with interviews with Castro or one of his speeches.

Tënk's film review


The improper conduct of the title was the crime that Cuba’s political dissidents, social dropouts and “sexual deviants” (homosexuals) were accused of, and prison, torture and re-education/concentration camps were the instruments of this persecution. Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jiménez Leal choose to tell this story using the sober device of interviews, allowing witnesses to evoke their personal stories with modesty and distance, a far cry from any televisual dramatisation. The question raised by the film is political and philosophical: why does a revolution only have a single model (the New Man), and why does this model ultimately and implacably standardise the sexual, moral and social choices of the people involved. Over time, the patriarchal and crypto-catholic normativity of Castro’s ideology has worn out and obliterated the momentum and hopes of the Cuban people: it took thirty years for the international left to acknowledge its violence…

Federico Rossin
Cinema historian, independent programmer

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filmmakers

Néstor Almendros

Born in Barcelona in 1930, Néstor Almendros finished high school there and then went to Cuba in 1948. The arrival of Batista made him leave for New York, where he entered the New York City College. Later, he studied at the Centro Sperimentale in Rome. When Castro came to power, he returned to Cuba. He made over 20 documentaries before going to France, where he was cinematographer on films by Truffaut, Rohmer and Schroeder. In 1978, he won an Oscar for Best Cinematography for "Days of Heaven" by Terrence Mallick, shot in Canada. In Spain, he worked with Vicente Aranda on the film "Forbidden Love", and co-directed the television documentary "Improper conduct". He died in New York in 1992.

Orlando Jiménez Leal

Orlando Jiménez Leal is a Cuban film director born in 1941. He began his career by reporting for the television news programme Cineperiódico. In 1961, his short film “PM” was censured and requisitioned by Castro’s regime, provoking a political-cultural controversy and Castro’s famous “Words to Intellectuals” speech in which he defined the Cuban government’s cultural policy. His movie “El Súper” (1979) won several awards and was selected at the Venice Film Festival. In 1984, he co-directed “Conducta Impropria” with Néstor Almendros, giving a historical overview of the repression in Cuba against all those whose personal conduct did not fall within the parameters established by Castro’s regime. He also directed “8-A” (Ochoa) for the RAI in 1992 about the trial and execution of General Arnaldo Ochoa Sánchez, the highest-ranking member of the Cuban Army, decorated by Fidel Castro as a hero of the Republic of Cuba. The day after his execution, cryptic graffiti appeared on the walls of Havana.

Other films in the collection: History & Politics