Saul Landau, a prolific filmmaker, writer and Truthdig contributor, died Monday from a fight with cancer.
Landau had a particular interest in Cuba, and he made numerous films about the island. These included a 1968 PBS documentary that was so threatening to the Cuban right wing, theaters showing it were firebombed. “These right-wing Cubans had, how shall I say it, ‘strong views’ on free speech,” Landau said with his characteristic wit.
The Institute for Policy Studies, where Landau had been a fellow since 1972, had this to say about the man:
Saul produced more than 40 films and TV programs, 14 books, and thousands of newspaper and magazine articles and reviews. Among his numerous accolades, Saul received an Emmy and a George Polk Award for “Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang,” a film he directed with Jack Willis in 1980 about the cover-up of health hazards related to 1950s atomic bomb testing.
Beyond his extensive body of work, Saul will be remembered for his steely nerve and caustic wit. “He stood up to dictators, right-wing Cuban assassins, pompous politicians, and critics from both the left and the right,” said IPS Director John Cavanagh. “When he believed in something, nobody could make him back down. Those who tried would typically find themselves on the receiving end of a withering but humorous insult.”
Saul constantly mocked the hypocrisy he saw in U.S. policies, particularly in Latin America. His last film, “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up?” tells the history of U.S.-Cuban relations through the lens of the Cuban 5, a group sent to infiltrate right-wing terrorist organizations in Miami. When the spies turned over evidence of U.S.-based terrorism to the FBI, they themselves were arrested and convicted while the anti-Castro terrorists continued to live freely in Florida. Several times in the last years of his life, Saul joined actor Danny Glover in driving hours across the California desert to visit one of the Cuban 5 prisoners.
To read Saul’s Truthdig columns, click here.
—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer
The Institute for Policy Studies
Saul Landau, left, and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.