Secret "Rosa Y Rojo" Cuban Short Film A Slice of Oppressed Life

"ROSA Y ROJO" (2004)
Genre: Drama
Length- 29:13
Company: Clear Sky Pictures
Website: Official

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED:  This film contains full frontal nudity which would probably qualify as an "R" rating by MPAA standards.  

Filmed guerilla style in 2004 in Cuba, "Rosa Y Rojo" is a film about free speech, and the struggles of enacting change under the regime of Fidel Castro (played by Jean-Pierre Oha).  At the time, the film was shelved due to concerns that the filmmakers and actors would be arrested for their views.

Recently, the film finally found release on the Internet.

Now then, let's talk Cuba . . .


The film is billed as a black comedy, and granted there are some humorous moments in the film, but I find it to be much more real and dramatic than funny.  The plot basically follows around two police officers (Eduardo De La Torre and Gerardo Avila) as they arrest people who attempt to voice their displeasure of the government and, in particular, Castro himself.  As the story progresses, it branches out and starts to include peaceful revolutionaries who sign petitions against Castro's policies, and finally candy distributors who include a simple "Enough's enough, Castro" message wrapped with each individual candy.

The fact that these people can be arrested for a comment so small is sickening.  The film portrays the mundane and the terrifying side by side.  "Rosa Y Rojo" is an incendiary political drama that packs all the more punch thanks to Hollywood's recent struggles with imposed censorship.


The film's cast is enormous, and it is beyond me how they managed to complete such an ambitious film.  Even in the USA, where you can make a movie about whatever you want, it would be a pretty daunting task to bring all these story threads together and make it mean something.  

The end result is a thirty minute film which, despite the best efforts of filmmaker Xavier Nellens, runs out of steam around three quarters of the way through.  The comedic bits with the police officers fall flat, and the conclusion . . . I don't know what to make of it.

Where the film succeeds, however, is in its opening fifteen minutes.  The documentary style and the underplayed performances make this film seem so genuine that you can't help but think it's all real, that these are not actors at all -- and when you get right down to it, they're not.

They're trying to create a piece of art to reflect their own problems, their own insecurities, which mirror those of the world around them.  To do this means possible imprisonment -- 25 years or more at times.  It's an oppressive world, and the film is permeated with the frustrated stories of the Cuban people.

It's wild, it's off the wall and zany at times, but it's also deadly serious and dark.
You owe it to yourself to check it out.  It just might make you consider how lucky you are if you live in some place where freedom of speech is upheld.


Writing: 2 / 5.  There's no overall plot -- things just happen, which lends itself to the reality of the piece.
Directing: 3 / 5.  Nellens provides us with a variety of camera angles and creative visuals.  I particularly enjoyed the candy wrappers floating through the sky toward the end.  It was very much "in the moment" camera work but it's effective.
Editing: 3 / 5.  The film is far too long.  There aren't any obvious effects to any of the shots, and sometimes the camera holds on a person's reflection for too long.  It takes the viewer out of the film.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  The soundtrack is amusing, but doesn't have the sort of variety required to keep one's ears interested for thirty minutes of screen time.
Acting: 4 / 5.  The film is subtitled in English (and six other languages), but the actors all deliver their parts in an understated way, which helps add to the reality of it all.

Final Grade: 3 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Rosa Y Rojo" by visiting the official website here!

Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!