Estela Bravo's FIDEL opens in L.A.

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Sun Mar 9 07:29:02 MST 2003

Estela Bravo's FIDEL documentary opened in Los Angeles
yesterday. Attendance was some of the best I've ever seen
at that theater, which isn't an easy place to go to because
parking is always so difficult (a major factor in Los
and for this event there was even valet parking!

This was despite the disgusting "reviews" by the likes of
Kevin Thomas comparing Estela to Leni Riefenstahl in the
Los Angeles TIMES the day the movie opened. At least
there was one decent review, in the L.A. Weekly.

There were lines like I've never seen outside the theater
and and the individual theater in which FIDEL showed was
nearly filled to capacity. Actor Danny Glover joined Estela
to make some positive remarks about Fidel, the Cuban
Revolution and the movie itself. Some other well-known
people came out for the evening, including the musician
Ry Cooder as well as some others in "the biz" as people
in Los Angeles often refer to people in movies, theater
and so on.

Though the two large local daily newspapers had reviews
which were not at all friendly to the movie, none of the
local rightwing Cubans showed up, and the audience on
numerous occasions applauded during the movie. Estela
Bravo explained to the audience that they had at first
wanted the movie to discuss Fidel and Cuba in a pro-
and con-format, but decided, in the end, to present it
as a completely positive portrait since previous movie
portraits of Fidel what their producers saw as negative
characteristics of Fidel and of the Revolution.

People from the International Action Center leafleted
the movie about the Cuban Five case. A few other
activists were giving out literature as well. It was a
wonderful opening for a movie you should go out to
see if you haven't already done so.

March 6, 2003

They're going to love this documentary in Miami.

Everything that the Cuban-exile community hates
about Fidel Castro finds its refutation in director
Estela Bravo's sympathetic portrait of Castro's
rise from high school basketball star to longest-
lasting thorn in the side of American empire.

Whether he's defending Cuba's new independence
during the Cuban missile crisis or marching for the
return of Elián González, Castro comes off as a
people's champion; Bravo makes the compelling
case that Castro could never have survived
50 years of U.S. interference if he weren't.

Archival news footage of the graphic horrors of
Fulgencio Batista's regime sets the stage for
Cuba's revolution as a source of symbolic and
material support for an emerging Third World.

Interviews with Harry Belafonte, Alice Walker
and Angela Davis attest to Castro's impact on
African-Americans, while other interviews with
Castro confidants - including Che Guevara's
daughter, Gabriel García Márquez and a handful
of onetime foot soldiers - as well as with Castro
himself, put a human face on the ruler who has
outlasted nine U.S. presidents.

It's a refreshing change from the self-interest and
paranoia that shape most American representations
of Castro. At the same time, Bravo anticipates that
such a view will drive some nuts.

As a former U.S. official puts it, "The United States
is simply incapable of dealing rationally with Castro."
Perhaps, Bravo suggests, that's because he may
be what we say he's not. (Paul Malcolm)

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