Sal Landau filmed Castro using a 16mm camera in a variety of settings, from military camps to a pickup baseball game to Castro's speech on the 15th anniversary of his attack on Fort Moncada which marked the beginning of the Revolution. Landau captured an unparalleled time into the relationship of the Cuban people with their popular leader, at a time when the country was being transformed internally while internationally vilified.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAUL LANDAU'S LANDMARK 1968 DOCUMENTARY Fidel
"...EXCITING and ILLUMINATING WORK. I found it COMPLETELY ABSORBING from the start to finish. A TAPESTRY FOR HISTORY." - Ralph Gleason, Rolling Stone"A masterful portrait." - Gore Vidal"Fidel is a 20th century icon and FIDEL is the iconic story of this larger than life man. If you want to understand Fidel's Cuba and the American fixation with his undoing, don't miss Saul Landau's mesmerizing portrait." - Julia E. Sweig, Director for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations
Preserved By National Film Preservation Foundation
Restored Version Available for First Time on DVD and VOD Platforms
LOS ANGELES (August 2012) - In May 1968, just nine years after the Cuban Revolution, San Francisco-based television producer Saul Landau was invited to join Fidel Castro in Cuba for an unprecedented in depth interview. The film, Fidel, was selected for a complete restoration by the National Film Preservation Foundation via a proposal from the University of California Riverside's (UCR) Department of Special Collections & Archives (SC & A), and will be available for the first time on DVD and VOD platforms on August 14, 2012.
Over the course of a week, Landau traveled through the island's mountainous terrain in a jeep with the charismatic world leader. Landau filmed Castro using a 16mm camera in a variety of settings, from military camps to a pickup baseball game to Castro's speech on the 15th anniversary of his attack on Fort Moncada which marked the beginning of the Revolution. Landau captured an unparalleled time into the relationship of the Cuban people with their popular leader, at a time when the country was being transformed internally while internationally vilified.
Fidel was completed in 1969 using fascinating footage from Cuba's National Archive. When it aired on Public Broadcasting Stations across the nation (except for the Miami station), a bomb was thrown through window of New York City's WNET station during the broadcast. Although no one was injured, this was the first of several attempts to sabotage the film. In 1970, the film was scheduled for a theatrical premiere when the Fifth Avenue Cinema in New York was bombed. The subsequent premiere at the Haymarket Theatre in Los Angeles was also derailed by an arson fire that destroyed the building the day before the film was to debut. After these incidents, most theaters in most major cities throughout the United States displayed no interest in screening the film--it was only shown in a select few locales such as San Francisco and Berkeley.
UCR's Melissa Conway, Distinguished Librarian and Head of Special Collections & Archives, identified a grant opportunity to restore the remaining film print. "A number of factors led to the selection of Fidel! for this grant. This type of access to and footage of Cuba and a young Fidel Castro has never been replicated. It provides viewers with an intimate look at one of the world's most captivating leaders in an isolated nation. Saul Landau candidly captured the daily lives of both Castro and the Cuban people. The connection between Castro and his people that is relayed through Fidel! makes it a truly valuable and unique look into the social climate of Cuba a decade after the renowned leader's reign. Concerns for the preservation of the film also contributed to our selection, as the film has started to show signs of dangerous deterioration after four decades. The pigments have degraded causing color loss as evidenced in the reddish tone that is present throughout the film. By digitizing the film in a modern format, there will be an option to strengthen the faded pigment colors using digital color enhancement while maintaining the red tone at its appropriate level."
The film print has been carefully restored and is available in High Def on digital platforms including Amazon Instant and ITunes.
Saul Landau has produced over forty films, including Will The Real Terrorists Please Stand Up, a critically acclaimed documentary about the Cuban 5 that was released in 2011 by Cinema Libre Studio. He has received numerous awards, including an Emmy (R) with Jack Willis for Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang, the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award, the George Polk Award for Investigative Reporting, the First Amendment Award, and the Bernardo O'Higgins award from the Chilean government for his human rights work. He is a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.
SYNOPSIS: Fidel provides a unique view of Cuba's controversial and most polarizing leader. In 1968, Castro took filmmaker and activist Saul Landau on a week-long jeep ride through the eastern mountains. There, he plays baseball with a group of peasants, visits his pre-school and trades jokes with a 98-year old man. Fidel also listens to the people's concerns about food distribution, bad roads and transportation. Landau captures Cuba's revolutionary chief early in the morning in his tent. The camera zooms in on his dirty and delicate fingernails holding his trademark cigar while he tells a story of Simon Bolivar and offers tactical advice to guerrilla warriors throughout the Third World.
The film contains rare and fascinating archive footage of the Bay of Pigs invasion and scenes of Che Guevara alongside interviews with political prisoners. Spectacular photography and editing with hot Cuban music provide the cinematic aesthetics that give this film beautiful form to accompany its exciting content.
DVD BONUS FEATURES:
Director's Commentary - Saul Landau recalls his experience when viewing the film again with LINK TV journalist Hannah Eaves in 2010.
Cuba and Fidel - Filmed in 1974, this 23 minute film shows unique footage of Castro and the beauty of rural and urban Cuba shot by Richard Pearce and directed by Saul Landau from material filmed from a CBS production.
TRT: 95 minutes
Street Date: 8/14/12
Genre: Documentary/Latin America
In Spanish with English subtitles
ABOUT CINEMA LIBRE: Cinema Libre Studio is a leader in distributing social issue documentaries and features by passionate filmmakers. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Cinema Libre team has released over one hundred films including the Sundance Audience Award-Winning FUEL, THE END OF POVERTY, and Oliver Stone's SOUTH OF THE BORDER. The studio is developing John Perkins' best•selling memoirs, CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN, into a major motion picture. Look for THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA coming to theatres starting July 29. For more information and updates, please visit: www.cinemalibrestudio.com