A gentleman, nattily attired in a slim suit and sunglasses, saunters through his bustling urban environment with cosmopolitan ennui en route to his achingly modern apartment. It’s an image we’d expect to find in a 1960s Italian film, with actor Marcello Mastroianni gliding through scenes directed by Antonioni or Fellini. But when it appears in a post-Revolution Cuban film, like Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s 1968 masterpiece Memories of Underdevelopment? That’s unexpected.
It’s a view of Havana and its people we’re unaccustomed to, but it’s hardly an anomaly. Alea’s film is a part of a rich cinematic tradition celebrated in the series “Cuba: Golden ‘60s,” which opens at BAMcinématek in Brooklyn today. From March 20-31, BAM will screen six features, including Mikhail Kalatozov’s beautiful I Am Cuba (1964), Humberto Solás’ proto-feminist Lucía (1968), and Manuel Octavio Gómez’s rare The First Charge of the Machete (1969), as well as a program of shorts, all made in the decade following the Cuban Revolution.