Being family has its advantages. I could see Memories of Development, a film directed by Miguel Coyula, the youngest son of one of my cousins.  I’m sure the title has already suggested that this is the film version of the novel by Edmundo Desnoes, also author of Memories of Underdevelopment which was adapted for film by Tomas Gutierrez Alea in an anthology version.

The new version freely recreates the novel, and brings us back another Segio, very Coyula, who conserves existential anguishes, banishment, and also the misogyny of the character of Desnoes, but also provides us with a dramatic density which the literal Sergio does not have.

The visual richness is dizzying: locations as distinct as Tokyo, Havana, New York, the desert. Collages, frenetic shots, and almost subliminal images all occur during the first half of the film. The end is characterized by a slow rhythm in an almost surreal setting which makes us believe that we are in a dream.

It’s very admirable how Miguel has managed to make us feel these Memories of Development with his digital camera, especially since that film is one which was made on a high budget.  He, along with a co-worker, edits, makes the music, and elaborates the special effects, as if he was creating a puzzle of many pieces.

Miguel perfectly understands the history of Cuba that has unfolded during the last 50 years.  For me, this was a surprise because I thought he was really consumed by the art of making films and his previous works never dealt with any specific geographic location and he had been living in New York for the last two years.  His project has given us a lucid and caustic vision, in contrast to the stereotypes thrust upon us.

I am thrilled that a relative of mine has made such a solid film within Cuban cinema that has generally been snubbed within the last few years.  A magnificent tribute to a Titan.  These Memories will be memorable.

Translated by Raul G.


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