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.
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…
Cinema historian, independent programmer
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