A new documentary documentary by Vitaly MANSKY “Homeland or Death” was released on July 21. The picture tells about Cuba — not about a paradise island with advertising posters, but about the real world, very close to those who survived the Soviet system.
“What idea did you go to Cuba?”
—With the desire to go through a certain attraction, a time machine. To plunge into the recent past, to look at the life of a socialist state from the height of our experience. After all, we live in a state that is only getting out of socialism.
“Have you been looking for similarities?”
“My first trip was a fact-finding— about Cuba, I had a very conditional idea. Naturally, I watched the “Buena Vista Club” by Wim Wenders, a couple more paintings, the main films that were made in Cuba and about Cuba. I watched countless videos about Cuban prostitution on YouTube. Here is the luggage with which I landed at the Havana airport. Taking a Russian-speaking Cuban driver with a car, the producer and I drove the whole country far and wide. Which is a problem in itself. We went and decided: whether to look into this village now, whether to stop at this house. Not that I was collecting material for the film — I myself wanted to understand, get to the bottom of the truth.
“At some point, I was struck by a phrase said by a Cuban about sixty years old:“ I remember how before the revolution ”… For us it is as if we were adding 40 years to 1917. Recently, Stalin died. And since Fidel by and large rules now, that is already 51 years old, today’s Cuba is like the Soviet Union on the eve of Stalin’s death. It seemed to me that it would be interesting to suddenly get into that Soviet Union by a person who knew that there would be a thaw, stagnation, perestroika, and again stagnation. To people who don’t know anything.
—Is there a feeling that a direct analogy is possible?
“I allowed her.” And ultimately I was not mistaken.
“So you found confirmation of your premonition?”
“Yes, despite the fact that Cuba is a completely different culture, a different continent, everything else!” But the Cubans seemed even closer to me than many of the characters that I shoot in Russia. I was imbued with some kind of special sympathy for them — I probably have to say this word. But it does not overlap all the senses, it is a more voluminous sensation.
—The film begins with an episode in the cemetery where the official reburial of the dead takes place. People take out the remains of their loved ones from the coffins, break their bones with their hands, put them in some boxes. Why did you start with these frames? To set the mood – “homeland or death”?
“I wanted to somehow bring life and death closer — to put them side by side in the frame.” To come up with this is generally impossible. This is beyond.