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Stricken With the World’s Oldest Affliction

Mar 26, 2019 | 831 videos
Video by Horatio Baltz

Horatio Baltz was in Cuba participating in a filmmaking workshop led by Werner Herzog when he met 9-year-old Maribel. The schoolgirl, from the small, rural town of Pueblo Textil, wanted to tell him about love. Wearing a red uniform with a red bandana tied around her neck, Maribel professed her unrequited affection for a boy named José.

“I always wanted him to tell me that he likes me, that he’s in love with me, that he wants to see me… but he never told me those things, even when we talked,” says Maribel in Baltz’s short documentary, True Love in Pueblo Textil. Maribel dreams of a happily-ever-after future with José, in which the couple travels to Havana to see exciting things. “We’ll get married and all that … and do all the things that people do when they get older.”

The film is at once a heartening portrait of a young girl’s romanticism and a somewhat disquieting augury of disillusionment.

“I think the film isn't just about being in love, but it’s more specifically about this feeling of being love-struck,” Baltz told me. “It’s this almost transitional feeling—sort of a romantic purgatory, I guess. This was the feeling I wanted in the film: the feeling of being in love, but also the feeling of dread at the thought of being in love.”

The year after Baltz completed the film and screened it at festivals across the world, he was able to stop by Maribel’s town, about 25 miles southwest of Havana. “She was doing well,” Baltz said. As for any updates on José: “She didn’t mention him.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.