Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Agustin Blazquez at Emory University

Here's my friend, the leading Cuban-American documentary filmmaker you've never heard of, presenting CHE: The Other Side of an Icon to Dr. Mary Grabar's class on March 16th. His film is now on sale on DVD at Amazon.com: Here's my review:
*****
When working as an actor in the Cuban film industry as a young man, filmmaker Agustin Blazquez met Che Guevara personally. The revolutionary legend had come to shake hands with the cast and crew of his film, and Blazquez was among those granted an audience. Not too long afterwards, Guevara was dead in the jungles of Latin America...and Blazquez subequently fled as a political exile--a story I hope he will one day tell on film, as it is as gripping as any novel. So he knows about Che, both as a Cuban culture worker for the revolution, and later as a refugee from Communism.

For his seventh documentary on Cuba, his beloved homeland, Blazquez compares the legend of Che with the reality of his legacy. Although Cuban-American audiences have been exposed to this side of Che before, much of it was new and surprising to me, a non-Cuban viewer.

Blazquez traces Che's route from Argentine leftism, to Cuban guerilla warfare, to execution of prisoners, to international terrorism. Underlying the film is a convincing case that Che Guevara is a spiritual father to Osama bin Laden. As evidence, Blazquez documents a foiled Guevara plot to bomb New York City in the 1960s, that had it succeeded, would have been America's first 9/11.

The film is powerful, compelling, and should be seen by anyone interested in Cuba, international terrorism--or the terrible power of an iconic image.