Monday, May 26, 2008
After "Che," Guevara's son dreams of film made in Cuba
Camilo Guevara, son of Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara
May 26, 2008, 10:00 P.M.
VIENNA (AFP) — As a new US-made film about Che Guevara picked up an award at Cannes, his son Camilo has expressed hopes that a Cuban director might also one day make a film about his father.
"That would seem right to me," he told AFP, a few days before the opening in Vienna of an exhibition showing photos of Che Guevara, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the legendary revolutionary's birth.
"But a large-scale production for such a major figure loved by the Cuban people requires a lot of resources and it would be very expensive," he said.
Camilo Guevara was contacted by US director Steven Soderbergh when he made his biopic "Che," starring the Oscar-winning Puerto Rican-born actor Benicio del Toro.
Although the film received mixed reviews at the Cannes festival last week, it nevertheless won del Toro the Best Actor prize.
Guevara has yet to see the completed film. But he added: "If it stays true to the spirit of Che, there's no problem."
The 2004 Brazilian film "Motorcycle Diaries," which followed the young Che's 1952 travels through Latin America with his friend Alberto Granado, took some artistic licence, said Camilo Guevara. One scene showed Che swimming across the Amazon river to reach sick patients.
"Historically speaking, Che swam in the Amazon river but never crossed it. In the film, it's an important scene because it shows his selflessness and we don't have anything against that," he added.
"(There are) Europeans who know his work well but there are many who don't know it and to identify with him, it's useful to discover his mind."
"It's easier then to join his image as a thinker and as a reformer, you don't just display him on a T-shirt, you experience him from within," he said.
Even in Cuba, "there is still much to do, even if Che is still very present," noted Camilo Guevara, who heads the Che Guevara Studies Center in Havana.
The centre's mission is to publish Che's complete unedited works, uncensored and without interpretation.
"Another step will be to publish a more critical edition," said Camilo Guevara.
Vienna's WestLicht photo gallery opened Monday an exhibit exploring the world's continued fascination with Che through photographs, ahead of what would have been the revolutionary's 80th birthday on June 14. He died in 1967.
Images from the revolutionary years taken by Cuban photographers are displayed alongside originals of Alberto Korda's cult portrait, showing a handsome but somber Che Guevara, wearing a beret with the golden star.
The photo was taken on March 5, 1960 at a commemoration ceremony for the victims of an explosion on a munitions supply boat in the port of Havana -- later blamed on the United States.
It is considered the most widely reproduced photo in the world and is still featured today on T-shirts, bags and posters.
"Korda only worked the camera, but it's yankee imperialism that made this picture," noted Camilo Guevara.
"This somber face obviously has something to do with the hundreds of dead, the many mutilated, a barbaric act funded and organised by the United States government," he noted.
The picture only gained cult status years later after it was published in Europe by French weekly Paris-Match on August 19, 1967. Then it appeared in a pop-art version by Ukrainian artist Roman Cieslewicz on the October 3 cover of French cultural magazine Opus International.
Che Guevara's violent death six days later, executed on the orders of the Bolivian government after he tried to spread the Cuban revolution there, turned him into a martyr and ultimately an idol for the protesting students in 1968.
In Latin America today of course, a new generation of left-wing leaders have come to power in a number different countries.
"I think he would feel happy and hopeful," said Camilo Guevara. "It's the only part of the world where you find regimes changing at the moment."