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December Days

2016
Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Daniela Munoz Barroso
Directed by Carla Valdes Leon
DVD, color, 45 min.
College - General Adult
Latin Americans, War, Foreign Affairs


Reviewed by Brian Falato, University of South Florida Tampa Campus Library

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 10/5/2018

When the Portuguese government abandoned its African colonies in 1975, power struggles and wars erupted over who would govern the now-independent countries. In Angola, the Communist forces fighting for control got substantial aid from Cuba, which sent more than 400,000 soldiers and “civilian collaborators” to Angola between 1975 and 1991. Two thousand Cubans died in the fighting. December Days is an attempt by a Cuban student filmmaker to recall this period.

Director Carla Valdes Leon combines interviews with those who were in Angola with clips from newsreel footage of the war, and even a 1984 Cuban soap opera called Something More Than a Dream. Officially, the intervention is celebrated as a triumph, and the Cuban Archives are preserving photos and films of the event.

As is the case with returning American soldiers, some of the Cuban veterans developed post-traumatic stress disorder and still have trouble adjusting. A group interviewed say they feel forgotten and live in dwellings with dirt floors and guano roofs.

December Days serves as an act of remembrance and education for Cubans of different ages. In America, it would be most useful for public libraries with a large Cuban patron base and academic libraries strong in Latin American and geopolitical studies.