Fernando Rojas: Santa y Andrés will not be shown, to defend 'a people
and a great cause'
DDC | Madrid | 7 de Diciembre de 2016 - 13:50 CET.
A few days before it was announced that the film Santa y Andrés would be
censored and not be presented at the New Latin American Cinema Festival,
the controversy surrounding the film was already flooding social
networks and Internet pages.
What began as a post on a blog and responses on the Facebook walls of
some filmmakers, including the director of the film himself, Carlos
Lechuga, ended up becoming a debate that drew in Fernando Rojas, Deputy
Culture Minister and President of the ICAIC (Cuban Institute of
Cinematographic Art and Industry), Roberto Smith de Castro.
The incident makes it clear that the limits on creativity in Cuba remain
drawn along the lines traced by the regime's cultural commissars,
whenever they consider the image of the Revolution and its main figures
to be tarnished.
Fernando Rojas versus Dean Luis Reyes
On November 25 Fernando Rojas responded to journalist Dean Luis Reyes,
who, the previous day, in his article "I want to see Santa y Andrés",
published in OnCuba, denounced the work's censorship.
Rojas reproached Luis Reyes for only addressing censorship in the
abstract, and alleged that his conception of art ignores "its organic
connection with the purposes of a Revolution like ours."
According to Rojas, reaction to the film is not due to "spite" or
"censorship" (according to him, "nonexistent") but rather the
"irresponsibility and naive responses of external, malicious
'sponsors.'" He added that any decision made sought to defend "a people
and a great cause."
He concluded by accusing the makers of the film of promoting
"manipulations and extremism," and defended the officials who had been,
according to him, unjustly described by Luis Reyes as "a handful of
"They, and I, are driven by a vocation of service inspired by a clear
commitment to the Revolution and its values," Rojas said.
Roberto Smith de Castro versus Eduardo del Llano
On November 29 Eduardo del Llano joined the controversy, seeking to
explain the censors' logic. According to the director, "the ICAIC does
not listen to those it is supposed to represent," and instead of ably
handling complaints, only stirs up more disputes.
Del Llano denounced the situation faced by the creators and cited more
recent cases of people who have had to leave the island due to their
artistic positions and ideas.
"Injustice generates rebellion. And weariness. The artist does not stop
creating, but he stops creating here. We have [the cases of] Ian Padrón
and Juan Carlos Cremata in the last three years," he said.
Regarding the issues addressed in Santa y Andrés, such as censorship and
the way artists are treated, he stated: "Historical errors like those
reflected in the film affected, and affect, many people."
And he rejected the idea "that both history and our lives must be
designated from above," and the eternal excuse that "this is not the
time" because "as long as the censors act with impunity, the time will
While Rojas replied to Luis Reyes, Smith de Castro sought to respond to
The ICAIC president said that, despite the "painful moment" of Fidel
Castro's death, he had to write immediately.
"I respond, precisely, for Fidel," he wrote.
According to the official, the ICAIC, exercising its "legitimate right,"
decided not to show a Cuban film at the Film Festival.
"The decision regarding the film is a matter of principle. Regardless of
its artistic merits and the possible intentions of its creators, the
film presents an image of the Revolution that reduces it to an
expression of intolerance and violence against culture. It irresponsibly
uses our national symbols and makes unacceptable references to our
comrade Fidel," he added.
"Standing on principle, we will not accept the presentation of a film
featuring these elements at the Festival.2
Smith said that he spoke with the creators of the film and other
filmmakers, and explained to them the ICAIC's reasoning, and that,
obviously, "the final decision is up to the institution."
He added that the judgment was not an "expedient" or "practical"
decision calculated to prevent "debate" and will not mean and end to the
ICAIC's support for independent production.
"The ICAIC will continue to defend the images of our national symbols,
of the Revolution itself, and of our heroes and martyrs, both in cinema,
whose production we support, and the selection of the films shown on our
screens," he wrote.
The institution he heads up "will continue to defend free, diverse,
critical and deep creations committed to the Revolution's ideals of
social justice and human freedom," he said.
The origins of the controversy
On November 16 Arthur González, a government journalist working at
cubainformacion.tv, posted on his blog El Heraldo Cubano a diatribe
against the film and accused its leaders of defamation and distorted
allegations, such as censorship and "political persecution and attacks
on the Island that have not taken place."
He also noted that the film intended to "denigrate the work of the
Revolution" and was "evidence of the purpose of telling a story (...)
portraying the Cuban socialist process as a monster."
The answer to González came through Facebook.
On November 18 the director of the film, Carlos Lechuga, published on
his wall: "The slander and attacks begin. I know that in the future I
will receive many more. This is not an attack on just Santa y Andrés,
but against all independent film."
Film director Kiki Álvarez weighed in on the controversy with another
post on Facebook.
"It is a misreading to interpret the character of Jesús as an attack
against the Revolution. Jesús, I repeat, is not the Revolution, but a
way of understanding and defending it that this film and its director
question and seek to address," he said.
Santa y Andrés tells the story of a relationship between a homosexual
writer harassed by the authorities for his political views and a peasant
girl sent to watch him so that he does not attend a "Peace Forum" and
speak out there against the government.
It premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival in
Canada, and was presented at the San Sebastián International Film
Festival in Spain.
There, Lechuga won the SGAE Award (General Authors and Editors
Association) for the film's script.
Source: Fernando Rojas: Santa y Andrés will not be shown, to defend 'a
people and a great cause' | Diario de Cuba -