For nearly a half a century, pioneering documentarian Jon Alpert has been compelled by the country of Cuba — once such a mystery to America, and now only recently open to us — and the people who populate it, especially its iconic (and brutal) long-time leader. The result of that obsession is Alpert’s latest film, “Cuba and the Cameraman” which was ultimately assembled from more than a thousand hours of footage and filmed over the course of 45 years, Alpert’s film follows three families…and Fidel Castro.
As the film’s official synopsis tells us, Alpert was present for most of Cuba’s biggest moments, documenting it every step of the way: “He was there for Cuba’s optimistic socialism of the early ’70s, and for the 1980 Mariel Bay boatlift, when over 100,000 Cubans fled the island accompanied by inmates released from prisons and insane asylums. He returned to cover the hardships of the 1990s; the harrowing ‘Special Period’ after the fall of the Soviet Union, when Cuba literally went dark. He documented how these families and the Cuban leader dealt with the serious challenges gripping their country.”
The film also promises to deliver a number of revelations about Castro, billed here as appearing “unguarded, off-the-cuff, and unedited.” The doc features a series of on-camera interviews between Alpert and Castro conducted over the years, with the dictator frequently referring to Alpert simply as “The Journalist.” It’s the kind of inside — and insidery — look that few people have ever been granted at either Cuba or Castro.
The film bowed at Venice this year, and will have its New York premiere at DOC NYC later this month. On Friday, November 24, it will premiere on Netflix and in select theaters. Check out our exclusive trailer for the film below.