Cuban Filmmakers Take Over Digital Technologies

A new era of filmmakers are finding their feet in Cuba, according to an article published in The New York Times [en].  The article tells the story of Sebastián Miló, a Cuban director that “hardly had enough money to put petrol in the old bus that took his team to film the series everyday, let alone enough to pay the salaries of the actors.”

But Mr. Miló, a 33-year-old Cuban filmmaker, had a Canon 5D digital
camera and a story to tell. So, during one frenetic week in May 2011,
he shot “Truckdriver,” a tense 25-minute film about bullying at one of
the vaunted rural boarding schools where millions of Cubans used to
spend part of their high school education

The blogger and film critic Juan Antonio García Borrego in August 2011 reflected [es]:

No se trata solo de enseñar a las personas a manejar una computadora, sino impulsarlos a que mantengan con esas tecnologías un espíritu creativo y liberador. ¿Cómo lograrlo? Ahí está el detalle, como diría ese gran filósofo de la vida que fue Cantinflas.

It is not just about teaching people how to use a computer; it is about making them use these technologies with a creative and free spirit. How to do it? Therein lies the problem, the great life philosopher Cantinflas would say.

It seems that acclaimed filmmakers and new directors have started to take over new technologies to keep down the costs of production of audiovisual effects and to tell stories that would otherwise not have seen the light of day.

During the premier of the 2010 film “El Benny”, the director Jorge Luis Sánchez, said [es]:

Con el desarrollo de la tecnología digital es posible tener más acceso a cámaras y computadoras donde se puede editar y, en la medida que tenemos más acceso, podemos soñar y sacar a la luz al director que llevamos dentro.

With the development of digital technology it is possible to have more access to cameras and computers where one can edit, and by having more access, we can dream and all let loose our inner directors

The article in The New York Times also refers to Carlos Lechuga, a 29 year-old filmmaker and director of the independent film “Melaza.”  The film was judged by the Cuban critic Dean Luis Reyes [es] to tell “a new story of typical survival of national cinema.”

Melaza, directed by Carlos Lechuga.

Melaza, directed by Carlos Lechuga.

Aldo y Mónica sobreviven a todo poniendo su relación por delante. Son una pareja hermosa y lozana que defiende una convivencia donde falta de todo, menos cariño. Su esfera social es parte de ese universo inane: ella hace inventario y revisa el funcionamiento de las maquinarias del central, adonde va a “trabajar” cada jornada; él enseña a un puñado de niños en una escuelita desconchada y da clases de natación en una alberca vacía.

Aldo and Mónica survive everything by putting their relationship first. They are a beautiful couple and strongly defend a coexistence lacking in everything except love. Their social circle is part of this inane universe: she makes inventories and checks that the machines are working in the power station, where she goes to “work” every day; he teaches a handful of children in a small crumbling school giving swimming classes in an empty swimming pool.

The project won various awards, including the Hubert Bals fund for script development, the Cinergia fund for a debut production, and the Ibermedia programme that allowed him to “somewhat face his financing issues”, declared [es] Lechuga.

“The Cubans are making feature length films, shorts, documentaries and animation films often with nothing more than a few friends and some budget teams – and with little help from the state and the Cuban Institute for Film and Film Industry,” concluded The New York Times.


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