Motherland or Death

Patria o Muerte

- RUSSIA / 2011 / Spanish / Color / Blu-ray / 99 min

Director, Script: Vitaly Mansky
Photography: Vitaly Mansky, Leonid Konovalov
Editing: Maxim Karamishev
Sound: Grigory Batiev
Producer: Gennady Kostrov
World Sales: Deckert Distribution

Vitaly Mansky, born in Ukraine, visits a Cuba that walks alone among images of paradise and Revolution. As he sketches the lives of ordinary people, an image of Cuba emerges from his peculiar, alien perspective. The title of this film was taken from the slogan of the Revolution, but perhaps it is the Cuban people who are bound by this phrase. The director’s voyeuristic gaze is full of energetic curiosity, burning a vivid and lyrical travelogue into moving images.

-[Director’s Statement] A lot of people in the world understand that Cuba is in the midst of great, radical changes. More than fifty years ago, the Cuban Revolution erupted and changed millions of people’s lives.

Even today, there are still people who have personally experienced life before and after the Revolution. Our film is about these Cubans. Our subjects are members of a dance troupe who perform the old Cuban dance “Rueda de Casino.” The principle of this dance is spinning and changing partners. All of our subjects’ lives are embodied in this spinning, lives spent under the slogan “Motherland or Death,” requiring them to make very hard choices.

The Cuba of today is the Russia of yesterday. Having this film shot by a Russian director offers a chance to travel through time to the Soviet Union before the end of Communism.

- Vitaly Mansky

Born 1963 in Lvov, Ukraine. Vitaly Mansky graduated from Medinskij’s studio VGIK and has become one of the most acclaimed contemporary Russian documentary filmmakers and producers. His first work in the world of cinematography appeared in 1989, and since that time he has shot more than 30 films. Since 1996 Mansky has been working on a project that archives amateur private video files that were shot in the times of the former USSR, from the 1930s to the 1990s. He is the publisher of the oldest web magazine on documentary film in Russia (www.vertov.ru). He is organizer of the national Lavrovaya Vetv (Laurel Branch) Award, which is given to the best Russian documentary films. He is also president of the Moscow Documentary Film Festival ARTDOKFEST. His film Private Chronicles. Monologue (1999) and Wild, Wild Beach (2006) both screened at YIDFF (2001 and 2007, respectively).