But the films I saw also included three short documentaries from 2017/2018 (as doing short documentaries is apparently some sort of requirement for film students (- often foreigners -) enrolled in certain courses in Cuba). I will sum up my thoughts on these docs here:
Palante (directed by Sissel Morell) might be the most unusual of the three. It features several young Cuban musicians who seem to be aspiring youtube “stars”, or whatever platform kids aspire to be on these days. The interesting thing is that Palante deviates from the documentary format by morphing into a bona fide music video near the end.
The other two documentaries are more “conventional”. They feature a single person who is shown in their everyday life and their everyday environment, and is also interviewed. For film students, these “portraits” are reportedly a popular form of fulfilling their documentary requirement; probably because they are relatively easy to produce.
Maria del Mar Rosario’s documentary, which does not seem to have a title but was simply shown under the heading “G11 Doce”, is a tentative slice-of-life portrayal of a young teenage girl who is at times bored and disenchanted and seems to be trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. The director appears to take the very apt approach of not steering the girl too much, instead mostly observing her.
Lecciones de Tai Chi (directed by Diego Rodríguez) is definitely the most interesting of the three documentaries, as it benefits hugely from its fascinating “subject”. Lecciones de Tai Chi features an elderly man who has a hunchback, walks stiffly, and seems to have no use of his left arm. A lot of his movements are similar to those you might see in people who have suffered from a stroke and have limited use of one side of their body. In the case of this man, his restrictions seem to be the result of an accident. “After my accident”, he says, “I was a vegetable, unable to move or speak” [quotation paraphrased from memory]. As for his convalescence, he fully credits Tai Chi for his recovery that eventually led him to be able to lead an independent life and be reasonably healthy. And Tai Chi seems to have benefited his body as well as his mind, giving him the will-power to recover. The glimpses we see of his life often show him teaching Tai Chi to others – usually elderly people or even old and frail persons.