In this political film documentary directed by Philip Selkirk in 2002-03, he depicts Cuban leader Fidel Castro in a diverse range of topics.
Early 2001, he was introduced to Che Guevara’s daughter, Aleida Guevara March, who toured Europe. Despite a certain variance of political opinion, she introduced Selkirk to Fidel Castro’s personal camera man, Roberto Chile. Between 2001 and 2003, Philip Selkirk and his team spent a total of 10 weeks in Cuba – mostly in Havana.
Despite his close collaboration with Chile and the “consejo de estado”, the Cuban State Council, Selkirk managed to see and interview not only supporters of the comandante’s regime, i.e. Fidel Castro himself but also the latter’s brother and current president Raúl Castro; Cuban “prima ballerina assoluta” Alicia Alonso; one of Fidel's closest confidants and promoter of the official Cuban film, the late Alfredo Guevara; long-time President of Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada; former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba and one-time Castro-loyalist Felipe Pérez Roque but also critics of the regime – based in Cuba such as renowned Cuban novelist Pedro Juan Gutiérrez from Havana and in Miami, Florida...
There, Selkirk met with the arch-enemies of Castro, representatives of the Cuban-American National Foundation. As well, Selkirk interviewed Armando Valladares Pérez who, in 1960, while working in the Office of the Ministry of Communications for the Revolutionary Government of Fidel Castro, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for openly expressing his disapproval of communism – without any evidence or witnesses to accuse him…
It by no means harms the documentary that Selkirk didn’t get as close to the “Beelzebub” of American foreign policy as US-filmmaker Oliver Stone did for his film “Comandante.” Apparently, the revolutionary leader only agreed to the interview with Stone under the condition that he could stop the filming at any moment. Castro never exercised this power, which says a lot about the US-American filmmaker's lenient interviewing technique.
Selkirk never had to be embarrassed by the necessity of asking tough questions for fear of spoiling the convivial atmosphere.
Not being forced to stick to a toothless interviewing process, Selkirk succeeded in producing a well-balanced portrait of one of the last political dinosaurs alive. He kept a lid on the hero-worship Comandante and creates a kind of “warts 'n' all” portrait of this charismatic and eloquent character.
“Castro” is a joint production of arte/Bayerisches Fernsehen/ARD and Selkirk Pictures & Enterprises Ltd.
Runtime: 63/72 min.
Release date: 2003