De cierta manera (1977)
16mm. A pioneering figure of Cuban cinema, Sara Gómez was one of the first women to work within the auspices of the ICAIC, Cuba’s post-Revolutionary film ministry. De cierta manera, her only feature film, was the first by a woman in Cuba, the first shot on 16mm in Cuba, and one of the few made by an Afro-Cuban director. Yet she did not live to see its ultimate realization. Gómez died during production, at age 31, and De cierta manera would be finished by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and other colleagues several years after Gómez completed cinematography.
While many of these historical markers would make De cierta manera worthy of attention, the film stands on its own as a dramatic rethinking of cinematic form and purpose, radical even by contemporaneous Cuban standards. To achieve her complex portrait of still-marginalized communities – former slum-dwellers, now working under the Revolution, who cling to regressive aspects of machismo and mysticism – Gómez shifts between a variety of narrative modes, attacking the ongoing problems of the revolutionary project through historical analysis, street-level documentary, and a fictionalized love story. As Gómez says in the film’s opening credits, it is “a film about real people, and some fictitious ones.” Hers is a critique of the ongoing Revolution from within, sussing out its internal contradictions, showing how entrenched attitudes around race, social class and gender in Cuban culture pose threats to the greater goal of constructing a society based around true equality. The film begins in media res and ends, pointedly, without resolution.
Print courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.