“To Fidel, everything had to be the greatest in the world,” says Selma Diaz. “To him, they were the best in the world, not just the best in Latin America. They had to be the best schools of art in the world.” Under her narration, the camera in Unfinished Spaces makes its way along brick corridors and up stone stairways. As the structure appears both old and empty, in some disrepair, you might guess this journey is coming to an end even as she remembers its origins.
But the film, in looking back, in taking you inside Cuba’s National Schools of Art, also suggests another journey. If it’s of a piece with the one initiated with the overthrow of Batista in 1957 and the triumph of the Revolution, it’s different too. That other journey involves reconsidering the hopes and confusions of the period, the politics and the struggles that go on to this day. Premiering on PBS’ Voces 12 October, the documentary includes interviews and archival footage, as well as tracking shots that take you through the buildings, shots that might have appeared in a horror movie. But the ghosts and spirits here aren’t so much dead as they are waiting.
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