Film Review – „Casa Blanca” by Aleksandra Maciuszek

Casa Blanca, a district of Havana, the capital of Cuba. In this small, former fishing village from the 18th century 76 year old Nelsa and her 37 year old son Vladimir live in a sparsely furnished one-room apartment.

Between bare and cold walls, rusty chairs and a propane gas cooker right next to the bed, the two try to master their daily routine.However, Vladimir has to take care of the decrepit Nelsa and she has to take care of Vladimir, who’s suffering from the Down syndrome. Director Aleksandra Maciuszek observes this unusual interdependency in her documentary „Casa Blanca” (2015). She does so by staying in the background and leaving Nelsa and Vladimir to live their lives as if the camera were invisible. This gives the viewer a very private insight into the life between poverty, illness and death.

With some almost picturesque shots the film shows Vladimir’s dilemma between the desire for independence and the responsibility to care for his beloved mother. While on the other hand Nelsa has to battle with the consequences and the own acceptance of her age and worry about Vladimir’s future. Slowly, the viewer gets to know and love both mother and son, while being drawn into a problem that many in western countries never thought of.

By Kristin Scherlitz-Hofmann

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