By Juan Barquin
By Ciara LaVelle
By George Martinez
By Kat Bein
By Ciara LaVelle
By Travis Cohen
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Monica McGivern
In the "Building" section of the show, many films riff on the deterioration of Cuba's structures, historic or otherwise, and often feature ordinary people trying to put cheerful faces on their corroded homes by using colorful paint and dirt-and-spit spackle.
For I No Longer Want to See My Neighbors, filmed in black-and-white and scored with a tune that could be out of a Tennessee Williams play, Carlos Garaicoa built a concrete-block wall in his dwelling, closing him off from those next door. He then superimposed images of walls in Ramallah, Tijuana, Berlin, and China to reflect the xenophobia that totalitarian regimes encourage against those who don't share their ideology.
In the last section, "Thinking," Luis Gomez's 1181 appropriates Fritz Lang's movie classic Metropolis, about a futuristic dystopia. The original film was about workers unwilling to conform and was shot during the Weimar Republic in the 1920s. But this lengthiest video in the show comes across as an intellectual conceit that is long-winded and boring.
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It does allude to the mass dehumanization in totalitarian societies such as Cuba, where the individual is forced to sacrifice free will to the collective's goals. As Cuba continues collapsing around its residents, the government's response is not unlike a "drunken ventriloquist reciting the future of an already-dead and untimely communism," Matos says.
The films in "Occupying, Building, Thinking" break no new ground in the art form and could have been shown individually for a livelier and more engaging presentation, but given some patience, they deliver Matos's thesis with some power.