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Cuba Documentary Reviews: Critics on 'I Am Cuba: Siberian Mammoth'

By    |   Thursday, 31 Mar 2016 07:14 PM

The original propaganda film “I Am Cuba,” was shot during the early 1960s, by the old Soviet Union and was virtually unknown in the West until it was unearthed in the 1990s.

IMDb, describes "I Am Cuba" as "Four vignettes about the lives of the Cuban people set during the pre-revolutionary era."

The documentary “I Am Cuba: Siberian Mammoth” covers the making of the movie, the history behind the stories and tries to explain the extraordinary shots in some of the scenes.

Directed by the Brazilian Vicente Ferraz, the documentary also features interviews with surviving cast members.

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The New York Times
film critic A.O. Scott gives the documentary a very favourable review while placing the original movie in its context. He praises Ferraz’s treatment of the interviewees and how he explains the uniqueness of the camerawork at the time.

Scott writes in his piece: “Vicente Ferraz, digs into the past to illuminate Kalatozov's extraordinary blend of formal bravura and revolutionary didacticism. Interspersing shots from the original film — many of which are justly famous for their power and complexity — with interviews, Mr. Ferraz has produced a welcome piece of historical explication.”

In a review printed on ScreenDaily, Fionnuala Halligan questions the marketability if the documentary's title, ‘I Am Cuba: Siberian Mammoth,’ but doesn’t let that take her away from the production itself. She chronicles the making of the film and is pleased with the ending in which the print of the original movie is discovered.

In finishing her piece, Halligan writes: “‘Soy Cuba's’ rediscovery makes a pleasant ending for this documentary which could also act as an intro to Kalatozov for the uninitiated. But ‘The Siberian Mammoth’s’ unappealing title, which makes sense towards the end of the piece, could still remain the biggest stumbling block in attracting a wider audience.”

Writing for A.V. Club, Scott Tobias looks at the documentary and how it works as a companion piece for the original movie. Tobias is critical of the methods used in the making of the documentary and wishes it was done using more inventive film methods.

Overall Tobias is pleased with the production writing: “Though it doesn't rise above the cut-and-paste aesthetic of other ‘making-of’ documentaries, 'The Siberian Mammoth' assembles many members of the disparate Cuban cast and crew, and unearths some rare production photos and footage.”

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The original propaganda film “I Am Cuba,” was produced by the old Soviet Union. The documentary “I Am Cuba: Siberian Mammoth” covers the making of the movie, the history behind the stories, and tries to explain the extraordinary shots in some of the scenes.
cuba, documentary, critics, siberian mammoth
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2016-14-31
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