Monday, March 25, 2019

Improper Conduct 35 years later: A portrait of Cuban communist intolerance

“We would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true revolutionary, a true communist militant.” ... A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a militant communist should be.” - Fidel Castro, 1965

Restored film screened in Coral Gables this past Sunday
This past Sunday, on March 24, 2019 a restored version of Néstor Almendros (1930-1992) and Orlando Jiménez Leal's film Improper Conduct (Conducta Impropia) was shown at the Coral Gables Art Cinema at 1:00pm.

April 11th will mark the 35th anniversary of the release of Improper Conduct, the film that exposed communist intolerance to Gays and Lesbians in Cuba. Reinaldo Arenas, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Heberto Padilla, José Mario and Armando Valladares are among the writers interviewed in the documentary.  In 1984 the film was first screened in Paris. In an interview published in the Spanish publication, Faro y Vigo Jiménez Leal explained how this restored version and anniversary screening came to be:
It was restructured, the titles were changed, the colors were fixed; It is a shorter version now because they were edited out about twenty minutes. We left it at an hour and a half but it is still a feature film, "said Jiménez Leal in an interview with Efe. "A filmmaker friend, Eliecer Jiménez, and I discovered a master that was here in my office in good condition; We saw that (the discovery) coincided with the 35th anniversary and decided to make a restored version of the film," details the Cuban filmmaker of 77 years, of which, he said, he has spent 57 exiled." 
Néstor Almendros (L), Orlando Jiménez Leal (center) & editor Michel Pion work on ‘Improper Conduct’ in 1984. El Nuevo Herald.

Read more here:
Orlando Jiménez Leal explained the continuing importance of this documentary, "It's a film against intolerance. Intolerance will always exist, and therefore, Improper Conduct will always be relevant."

This documentary came into being out of an event that first inspired the filmmakers to make a fictional comedy. Ten dancers of the National Ballet of Cuba defected during a tour stop in Paris. The fillmmakers started to interview the ballet dancers, and the people who had helped them to develop the script. The interviews were so powerful that they decided to make this documentary instead.

Here is my take on the documentary from 2018 and how it fits into the Cuban context. Below is the official trailer of the restored film.

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