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A New ‘Experience’ For Filmmaker

A New ‘Experience’ For FilmmakerDocumentaryproducer and Tufts graduate Adriana Bosch, known for her presidentialbiographies on PBS, tackled a more personal subject with a newbiography of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.07.05] She has profiled American presidents ranging from UlyssesS. Grant to Ronald Reagan in a series of highly acclaimed documentariesfor PBS’ American Experience program. But Cuban-bornTufts graduate Adriana Bosch approached a far more personal subjectwith her latest project: a biography of Fidel Castro.

“I lookedat Castro as the opportunity of a lifetime,” the FletcherSchool graduate said in an interview on the PBS web site. “Ihad an opportunity not just to do an analytical and an intelligentjob, but something that was more personal.”

The end result,Fidel Castro, examines the guerrilla leader who headed the revoltagainst Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and took control of Cuba. Inthe years that followed, Castro was defined as much by eventssuch as the Cuban missile crisis, the Bay of Pigs invasion, andthe Mariel boatlift as he was by his olive-colored fatigues, bushybeard and penchant for cigars.

The 49-year-oldBosch left Cuba in 1968, but the images of Castro and the revolutionthat she witnessed while there stuck with her.

“I livedthrough nine years of that revolution as a conscious person, andI have vivid experiences and vivid memories, not only of whatthe process was like, but what it felt like and what people aroundme felt like, on both sides of the issues,” Bosch explainedto PBS.

Despite herpersonal feelings, she strived for fairness as she produced herdocumentary.

“I’mnot supposed to vent my feelings. I’m supposed to look atfacts, draw as objective a portrait as I can,” she toldthe Miami Herald. “Fidel is a man driven by hisown ambition. But to think that’s all there is to him isunderestimating him.”

Bosch metCastro when she was a young child in 1959. “He picked meup and kissed me,” she recalled to PBS. “Hey, allpoliticians kiss babies, you know.”

Since Castrohas been in power for nearly 50 years, culling the material forthe documentary was a huge challenge. For the most part, she letthe archival footage speak for itself.

“Youend up with almost an unmanageable history,” Bosch toldPBS. “The way I approached it was by jumping into eventsthat I thought would best highlight not only his personality,but also the key issues in the revolution.”

When thatrevolution took place, Castro was welcomed with relief.

“Nomatter what Fidel was, the Cuban people were going to be, andthere was this overwhelming sense that this man had all the answers,”Bosch told PBS.

Castro’srise to power and subsequent falling-out with the Soviet Unionand standoffs with the United States make him a rich characterto portray.

“Cubawas always obsessed with the idea of revolution,” Boschexplained to The New York Times News Service. “Theword ‘revolution’ was always mythical, and Castrocame to embody that. But there was a price paid.”

Despite numerousattempts, Bosch was thwarted in her attempts to return to Cubato interview people close to Castro.

“It’salways a pipe dream in a closed society to think you are goingto get those voices,” she told the Times. “Butyou never know.”

Bosch’sfamily settled in New Jersey after leaving Cuba in 1970. Her fatherbecame a butcher and her mother worked in an organ factory. Afterattending Rutgers, Bosch came to Tufts and received a Ph.D. ininternational affairs from the Fletcher School, focusing on CentralAmerica.

”I wantedto go beyond being a Cuban,” she told the Times.“Professionally, I wanted to be an American.”

As her latestprofessional endeavor, this documentary is receiving solid reviews.

“FidelCastro acknowledges both Castro’s charisma and his cruelty,”according to The Washington Post. “But the filmis never heavy-handed, and that in itself is an achievement.”

The legacyof Fidel Castro is a complex one that Bosch has sought to portrayfairly in her film, but she does not feel that time will be kindto the Cuban leader.

“Castrois looking for a history that will absolve him, acquit him,”she told the Herald. “But has hasn’t foundit.”




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