PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 June, 2012, 12:00am


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Speaking of the generation of Cuban filmmakers who emerged during the country's cinematic golden age in the 1960s, Mirta Ibarra recalled a collective committed to their homeland's social well-being without becoming demagogues. Ibarra is the wife of Tomas Gutierrez Alea, a director famed for his 1968 treatise on post-revolutionary Cuba, Memories of Underdevelopment.

'They were fighting for the revolution before the revolution even appeared, and after that they were trying to save the revolution,' the actress told me at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2008.

Films produced during that era were critical of the fact that Cuba remained mired in class and gender-based antagonisms after Fidel Castro ousted Fulgencio Batista in 1959. This ambivalent view is brought into focus in Humberto Solas' 1968 film, Lucia.

This comprises three chapters set in different eras: the tail-end of Spanish colonial rule in 1895, the downfall of military dictator Gerardo Machado in 1933, and Castro's Cuba in the late 1960s.

The film tracks the problems faced by women and shows how, throughout the decades, their fates remained unchanged. The patriarchical oppression of earlier times persisted in Castro's Cuba.

The first female protagonist is duped into betraying independence fighters, the second is relegated to life as the wife of a self-styled revolutionary, and the third is forced to deal with a tyrannical husband.

The film shows progress in the way each of the women confront these constraints: one helps the reactionary forces, the second is a meek observer of change, while the third becomes an agent for her own emancipation.

The film highlights how the fight continues - a case of hasta la victoria, siempre indeed.

Lucia, today, 7.30pm, Hong Kong Science Museum, June 23, 2.30pm, Hong Kong Film Archive