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Saul Landau, DEP

16 September 2013

Gore Vidal called Saul Landau “a man I love to steal ideas from,” and for a scholar and defender of the Latin American left, one cannot fathom a higher compliment.

Landau, a professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, was primarily a documentary film maker… and, although openly sympathetic to the left was too much of a scholar to present what could be easily dismissed as  propaganda rather than the uncomfortable truths about U.S. policy in Latin America.

The truths was more than just discomforting to some.  In 1970, a theater in New York was bombed, and another in Los Angeles burned to the ground in an attempt to prevent Landau’s “Fidel” from reaching the public.  Throughout his prolific career as a film-maker and writer (14 books and innumerable articles to his credit), Landau was forced to endure death threats and often to depend on body guards for his own protection… in the United States.

saul-landau-foto-roberto-chile-3Born 15 January 1936 in Bronx, New York, Landau dropped out of high school, but following a hitch-hiking expedition around Cuba in 1960 (which was the start of his life-long career as a Latin Americanist), her returned to high school at the age of 20, and later attended the University of Wisconsin, where he obtained both  bachelor and master’s degrees in History.  Moving to California he became active in a theatrical troupe, and learned the film-making craft.  His 1968 “Fidel” was followed by films on torture in Brazil, the maquilador plants on the U.S. Mexican border, the Sandanista and Zapatista movements, Michael Manley the Jamaican populist leader, and any number of other subjects… from the death of Alexander Hamilton to the nuclear power industry and middle-eastern politics,

At the time of his death (9 September) Landau had been working on a new film,  typical for a leftist not afraid to honestly assess his favored subjects,the film was to deal with the ticklish subject Cuban homophobia.

(Bibliography and Film credits at wikipedia; obit at The Guardian)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Bebe permalink
    6 October 2013 8:10 am

    “…was forced to endure death threats…”

    I always laugh when any person in the US regardless of political leaning makes such a comment without following through with even a half-hearted attempt to report said threats to the police. Such claims remind me of the late news publisher Jacobo Timmerman of Argentina who offered to be tortured on TV so that persons in the States could SEE what physical torture and threats really were.

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