For Immediate Release — Monday, September 12, 2005


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516

SUNY Geneseo's International Fall Film Series Includes Documentary on U.S.-Cuba Relations

GENESEO, N.Y. — A video documentary about U.S.-Cuba relations will highlight the fall offerings of the State University of New York at Geneseo's Alan Lutkus International Film Series.

"Strait Talk: Politics, Propaganda and Perceptions Across the Florida Straits" will be screened at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 in Bailey Auditorium (Bailey Hall 135). The documentary will be introduced and discussed by Canandaigua native John Locke, the film's producer and director, local documentary filmmaker and adjunct professor.

"Strait Talk" examines U.S.-Cuban relations and the effects of the U.S. embargo on the tiny island 90 miles from the southern U.S. border. John and his wife, Debbie, visited Cuba in April and May of 2003 and interviewed many officials and ordinary Cubans alike.

"We brought back 30 hours of video including interviews with the former mayor of Havana and the General Secretary of Labor, as well as ordinary Cubans," said John Locke. "We were surprised at just how desperately the Cuban people wanted to tell their story. Apparently, many Cubans have a very different opinion of their government than the U.S. mainstream media reports. Cubans watch CNN and realize that their point of view is not being presented to the U.S. people. They were grateful to have the opportunity."

Upon their return home, John Locke began to catalog his footage and realized that in order to present a balanced documentary, he needed to include the official position of the U.S. government. Kevin Whitaker, coordinator of Cuban Affairs at the U.S. State Department, participated.

"Mr. Whitaker answered questions on tape for more than an hour. He expertly articulated the State Department's official position under the Bush Administration. I was struck by how little change has taken place considering there is no longer a 'Soviet threat.' It's almost as if the State Department is stuck in a time warp," observed Locke.

Locke said not everyone in the U.S. government takes as hard a position against Castro's Cuba. U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., also participated in the project and suggests a policy of constructive engagement similar to that used with other Communist countries and South Africa. McGovern's comments provide insight into an alternative approach subscribed to by many in Congress on both sides of the aisle, said Locke.

The documentary features Cuban music, scenes from Havana and footage from Fidel Castro's 2003 May Day address. The 141-minute documentary, produced in 2003, is in English and Spanish, with English subtitles added where needed.

"Wherever I've shown this video, most people walk away saying, 'I had no idea,'" said Locke. He predicts that the film "may not change viewers' minds about how we should engage one of the last true Communist nations on the planet, but it will most definitely open their eyes to a point of view they won't hear in the mainstream media."

To learn more about the film, go to To learn more about Pastors for Peace and the Cuba Caravan, go to

In addition, the college also will screen the following film:

"Don Quijote de la Mancha" (Don Quixote of La Mancha) (Spain, 1991; 180 minutes) 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 20, 2005, Bailey Auditorium (Bailey Hall 135)

A superb transformation to the screen of the great literary classic by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Starring the irreplaceable Fernando Rey, the journeys and adventures of Don Quixote and his squire, Sancho Panza, are exquisitely filmed in this acclaimed production by Televisi—n Espa–ola. This is part of the foreign languages and literatures department's celebration commemorating the 400th anniversary of the publication of Don Quijote del le Mancha. In Spanish, with English subtitles.

Felisa Brea, a visiting lecturer of foreign languages and literatures, will serve as the film's discussant.

The films listed here are free and open to the public.

Last year, Geneseo renamed the film series as a tribute to Lutkus, an associate professor of English who died in August 2005 after a long illness and whose unrelenting drive to establish a film studies program resulted in the college adding a film studies minor in 2002, said Rose McEwen, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures, and coordinator of the Latin American Studies Program.

The film series is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Latin American Studies Program, the IFS Committee and the following academic departments: anthropology, biology, communicative disorders and sciences, English, foreign languages and literatures, and psychology.