Review: ‘Cuba Va: The Challenge of the Next Generation’

"Cuba Va" is an intriguing, if not entirely successful, attempt to reassess Cuba's current socioeconomic crisis as seen by its youthful generation born 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, at universities and in other educational venues.

“Cuba Va” is an intriguing, if not entirely successful, attempt to reassess Cuba’s current socioeconomic crisis as seen by its youthful generation born 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, at universities and in other educational venues.

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

The youths debate the merits of socialism vs. 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.

As could be expected, Castro’s admirers vow allegiance and commitment to continue his revolution. They stress the free education, guaranteed jobs and non-existent 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 student organizations actively support the government.

The 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 the United States’ vast influence on Cuba’s popular culture, as evidenced in the country’s fashion and rap music.

Still, the vigor, diversity and commitment of Cuba’s younger generation is most impressive.

Cuba Va: The Challenge of the Next Generation

Production

A Cuba Va Film Project production. Produced, directed, edited by Gail Dolgin, Vicente Franco.

Crew

Camera (color), Franco and Jessie Block; lighting, Charles Griswold, Alan Steinheimer; sound, Marcio Camara; associate producer, Judith Montell. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Jan. 26, 1994. Running time:59 MIN.
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