BehaviorOriginal Title: Conducta
Director: Ernesto Daranas
Cuba | Spanish
Eligible for Child Protection Award
Inciting frank political discussion and breaking attendance records at home, Behavior has reinvigorated the Cuban film industry since its release in early 2014. It tells the compelling and vital story of a schoolteacher with controversial viewpoints who stands up for a young boy censured for his poor conduct.
Strong-willed and idealistic, long-time educator Carmela (Alina Rodríguez) is facing life alone on the Caribbean island, her family having left for the US. She’s nearing retirement age, and a sudden heart attack keeps her out of the classroom for a couple of weeks. Without her protection and oversight, Chala (Armando Valdés Freire), an 11-year-old streetwise boy from her class who earns money to feed his addict mother by raising fighting dogs, is sent to Cuba’s version of reform school.
Though the school administration expects Carmela to leave quietly and accept Chala’s transfer upon her return, they instead face a torrent of her frustrations at the educational system, governmental dogma, and the lack of service provided to the kids. Tackling specific issues such as restrictions against religious icons in the classroom and the policy of ousting students for not having locally registered identification, Daranas constructs a powerful critique of Cuba’s educational system that is bolstered by outstanding performances from both professional actors and riveting first-timers.