The Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) was founded in 1959, only months after Castro came to power. It was some years, however, before its fruits were exposed to European and US audiences; Alea's film, his fifth feature, was the breakthrough. The story is related in the form of a diary by a prosperous bourgeois who chooses to stay in Havana when his family leaves for the States in 1961. While he rejects many of the bourgeois ideals of his upbringing, he is unable to shake off either sexual neurosis or his European-based intellectual paralysis, continuing to live uncertainly as a rent-drawing property-owner. The 'underdevelopment' of the title is a complex pun describing both individual and national problems of the revolution in its infancy, though the film is anything but literary in its attack: Alea proceeds with dazzling and highly accomplished technique towards a perceptive and witty analysis. Many critics at the time were surprised by the strain of self-criticism running through a film produced by what is virtually a government ministry in a Marxist country.