Just two weeks after its premier, the cuban film Conducta, has filled cuban movie theatres. Written and Directed by Ernesto Daranas (“Los Dioses Rotos”, 2009), the movie tells the story of “Chala”, a 12 year old social outcast from La Habana, and his relationship with Carmela, his veteran sixth grade teacher.
Having a promiscuous, drogadict mom, not knowing who his dad was, and living in a ramshackle house, Chala spent his days at school and his afternoons training fight dogs (an illegal activity in Cuba) in order to make a living for him and his mother. The movie that is attracting thousands of viewers to the theatres is already considered the biggest audiovisual event of the year.
According to Ernesto Daranas, screenwriter and director of Conducta, this project was a movie-workshop for a group of students of the Faculty of Adiovisual Media of the ISA. The students were an active part of the project all throughout, they helped in choosing the subject, running the investigation that had to be done parallel to the script, and casting the kids for the movie.
All the kids that participated, were chosen at a casting in which Valdes Freire participated only because of his mother’s initiative and not because of his own will. Conducta teaches its viewers a lesson in form of art, it shows how a good teacher can take beautiful things out of the worst of his/her students.
The newspaper Juventud Rebelde, points out that the catharsis that viewers get after watching the movie, happens not only because of the good quality of the movie, but also because of the values that the movie has, giving the audience an opportunity to reflect about the ethical reasons that support a man’s honesty.
Conducta is not about the Cuban educational system. It focuses much more on the risks children are exposed to, including how social and economic conditions affect a child’s family and his or her school” said Daranas to the news portal Cubadebate. (www.cubadebate.cu)
Alina Rodriguez, an experienced actress, and a familiar face in the cuban movie industry, described her character as a well written role, and said that playing it brought a lot of satisfaction to her: “Very few times, you find a script that is so similar to what you think. Besides, teaching was my first profession, so I based my role in experiences I had as a teacher.”
“This movie was filmed with children, but it’s clearly made for adults, to make them think about matters such as education, values, ethical conflicts… We have to fight for everything that has been lost inside and outside of the classroom.” Conducta is a thrilling movie, that manages to avoid the simplistic melodrama in which it could have fallen; It is a movie that can help us become better human beings.
“This is the movie our country needed” said the well known movie maker Enrique Pineda Barned in a brief online note.
New technologies have allowed people in the audiovisual industry to make their projects a reality. Edgy, acerbic, and rebellious scripts, have come out of the shade because they don’t need neither permission nor funds from the Cuban Institute of Art and the Movie Inudstry (ICAIC for its acronym in Spanish) anymore. This proliferation of short films, documentaries and independent films helped to build the perfect juncture that Ernesto Daranas’s film needed.
Moreover, illegal networks helped the movie go viral. Even though the film is being shown in several movie theatres around the country, many prefer to get an illegal copy and watch it at home with friends.
The search for strategies to convince people of going to the cinema, has to continue, just as it has for museums. It is clear that people don’t want to buy brochures with pictures pieces of art, as luxurious as this catalog might be, but they rather go see each masterpiece in person, this is how people should feel about the movies.
With this film, Ernesto Daranas, reminds everyone about his passion for narrating transparent stories, in which the characters behave as very human, human beings, just like us Cubans.
Talking about Conducta as a movie, it is easy to guess that it will become one of the most polemic movies in the history of Cuban films due to the fact that Daranas made himself the judge of his characters’ morals. Not with the intention of being harsh, but rather hoping to show what each character’s behaviour towards those rough situations is.
And that’s what Conducta is, a very deep and intriguing look at certain Cuban citizens that day by day help build Cuba’s moral architecture. However, the film doesn’t show every Cuban’s reality, a movie can’t aim to show reality as a whole. In that sense, one of the things that make this movie as valuable as it is, is of showing a piece of reality.