CUBA / 1979 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 95 MIN
Maluala takes us into a palenque, a settlement of escaped slaves hidden somewhere in Cuba's eastern mountains, where discord is sown between black "kings" by clever subversives working for the Spanish government.
"Sergio Giral is the best known of the Black Cuban directors and his previous films were historical observations of the period of slavery in Cuba, the gradual rise of rebellion against colonial traditions, and the ultimate freedom that resulted. Maluala is the most striking addition to this genre. The action takes place during the last century in the region of Maluala. Gallo, the black chieftain, together with his cohort, Coba, present a petition for land and liberty to the colonial government. Governor Escudero offers liberty if the rebellious villages will be dismantled and their men offer themselves in surrender. He promises that they will be freed shortly thereafter. Three chieftains agree, but Gallo and Coba refuse... Giral has mounted Maluala with colorful ritual and acting. Samuel Claxton, as Gallo, is highly stylized in the heroic tradition. It is an absorbing adventure film wrought from historical events which appear violent, but Giral constantly implants into every image the necessity for unity among people in order to combat man's seemingly casual desire to subjugate mankind, in the struggle for power and undefined ambition." ~ /San Francisco Film Festival, 1980/
"The historically lucid intrigues of Maluala (1979), where the Afrocentric leadership of fugitive palenque communities is pitted against each other COINTELPRO-style by Spanish colonists, is one of those Cuban films that were forged in a righteous, red-hot ferment but still found the courage and wit to ask questions about the society around them." ~Gary Dauphin, The Village Voice