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Conducta: Ernesto Daranas’s smash hit

Conducta: Ernesto Daranas’s smash hit

The film’s synopsis could make you think that this is one of many Cuban stories, novels, plays that examine contemporary issues. But Conducta is something different. It is an incisive, sensitive, deeply humane artistic look into the harsh and difficult life of individuals who are poverty-stricken and marginalized in Cuba.

The story of Chala, the kid who supports his alcoholic and drug addict mother by breeding pigeons and training fighting dogs; who is loved and understood by his teacher but is sent to a school for children with behavioral problems when the teacher falls ill and is temporarily replaced by an inexperienced young teacher, transcends the anecdotal account to give the viewers truths that some people prefer not to see: the intolerance and unconditional adherence to formalities and bureaucratic rule; the futility of educating within a bell jar and the crime of refusing to alleviate wrongdoings on the pretext that it is not possible to eradicate them entirely.

Conducta manages to deliver without lapsing into sentimentality or didacticisms. The script, also by Daranas, is coherent; the dialogues are accurate and consistent, devoid of the verbalism that has hindered other films of this nature. The characters are solid and compelling, drawn with precision and without Manichaeism. Alejandro Pérez’s photography manages to convey warmth and poetry to a particularly damaged and impoverished area of ??the city. And above all, the wonderful performances—precise, perfect.

Alina Rodríguez embodies a firm yet sensitive teacher who has been hit hard by the emigration of her daughter and grandson, by her illness and by the lack of understanding of others. Yet, she refuses to give up and leave to their fate the students who find in her sympathy and refuge. Moderation and structure tinge the character who is revealed by the look in her eyes, the tone of voice, the gestures, the silences, her gait. The young actress Miriel Cejas as the substitute teacher who becomes increasingly committed to her students manages to transmit the changes in her character with expressive sobriety. Silvia Águila is convincing in her role as a social worker, who strictly carries out regulations and ordinances but who has doubts that make her more human. Yuliet Cruz confirms that she is every inch an actor in her role as Chala’s violent, chaotic, drug-addict mother, who, nevertheless, always shows some trace of love for her son. Armando Miguel Gómez takes on the role of the man who Chala may turn out to be in the future: a hard, sometimes cruel and violent man, in whom, occasionally, there is a flash of goodness. Hector Noas magnifies his brief role as an immigrant from the eastern provinces in search of a chance of survival, which could make for the subject of another film.

However, despite the excellent performances of these experienced actors from film, television and theater, the children are the ones who steal the show. They “live” their roles with astonishing naturalness, especially Armando Valdés, who failed his first casting and was chosen at the last minute, and who gave his unforgettable Chala the harshness and the tenderness, the early maturity and the boyishness required by his character. The deft direction of experienced actors and of children with no previous acting experience confirm Ernesto Daranas as one of the great filmmakers of Cuban cinema today. Descember 2014 This article formed part of the descember 2014 issue of What’s On Havana The definitive monthly travel & culture guide to Havana Download our current issue of What’s On Havana, your definitive travel, culture and entertainment guide for all things happening in Havana, Cuba’s bustling and enigmatic capital city. We include features from around Cuba written by the best international travel writers covering Cuba. Our monthly online digital magazine is also available in Spanish and French.

What’s On Havana What’s On La Habana What’s On La Havane Descember, 2014
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Diciembre, 2014
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