Netflix's “Cuba and the Cameraman”

A Netflix documentary about Fidel Castro is a humane, intimate portrayal made by an American, and that's what make it so controversial.

For "Cuba and the Cameraman," director Jon Alpert traveled to and filmed in Cuba for over 45 years, following Castro and three Cuban families.

Alpert is an integral part of the film, as is his voice, family and personal relationships with Castro and Cuban friends. "It didn't start out that way," Alpert told Salon's Alli Joseph on "Salon Talks." But given the film's unparalleled access to Castro over decades and other intimate day-in-the-life accounts of various Cuban families, Alpert felt his friendships were part of the story.

Beyond his relationships with Cubans and growing love for the country, Alpert saw it his "duty to observe the revolution and how it affected people over a period of time," he said. In his mind, snapshots were not sufficient.

The result is a film that documents the early optimism of the revolution in the '70s, the food and fuel shortages in the '90s after the Soviet Union collapsed, and the tourism boom of the last few years. The film follows the many transformations of Cuba up until Castro's death last year.

On "Salon Talks," Alpert discussed common misconceptions of Cuba, a terrifying story following Castro's UN speech in New York in 1979, and the possibilities of free education in the U.S.

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