Let's Join "The Death of The Cat" in Denouncing the Castro Dictatorship
Posted on September 26, 2014
For my soul brother Angel Santiesteban, prisoner of Cuba for thinking
For my second father, Raul Guerra, who died intoxicated with disappointment.
The Death of the Cat
Writer: Lilo Vilaplana Genre: Fiction Category: Fiction
The Death of the Cat is much more than an exceptionally accomplished
work of art by Lilo Vilaplana. It is an unambiguous argument against
the Castro dictatorship that has plagued Cuba for fifty-six years.
It deeply impacts Cubans who have lived that period, those who even if
they have not lived it suffer even today the same painful reality, and
the non-Cubans who are moved seeing how the Castro propaganda has fooled
them also while all Cubans are prisoners of the big island jail.
Dedicated to Angel Santiesteban and Raul Guerra, it deals with a work of
fiction inspired by real events, contextualized in the day after the
shooting of General Ochoa but that takes great care with even the
smallest details managing to recreate on a Bogota lot the miseries of
Details as "trifling" as to have covered the floor with a paper that
mimics the tiles that populate Cuba. And even the wretched roll that
Cubans eat, many preliminary experiments were needed until obtaining
what appears in the short film, seeking not to exceed the weight and to
be true to what the impoverished people eat.
It is not easy to create intentionally so much destruction, poverty and
neglect as the Castros have caused in over five decades. Painstaking
craftsmanship by Lilo's team has managed to "destroy" the setting,
making it so true to life that more than one person will believe that it
really was filmed in Havana.
The director's merit, and it is great, is not only artistic. The art,
it is true, has brought the short film to first level international
festivals. But it has not only shown the world Cuban talent, which is
infinite and in Cuba has no possibility of being developed unless one
wants to end up censored, marginalized or in prison. The short itself,
filmed in Colombia, is true testimony that in order to exist, it must
have been born on another horizon where liberty reigns. And just for
this reason, the performances by Jorge Perugorria and Coralita Veloz,
both residents on the island, are doubly meritorious. You have to have
a lot of guts to participate in such a film and continue living in Cuba.
The fact that The Death of the Cat is shown in the CANNES or GOYA
festival, among others (KRALJEVSKI FILMSKI FESTIVAL, Serbia; FESTIVAL
IBEROAMERICANO DE CORTOMETRAJES ABC.ES, Spain; FESTIVAL LATINOAMERICANO
DE VIDEO ROSARIO, Argentina; PORTOBELLO FILM FESTIVAL, United Kingdom;
FESTIVAL PIRIAPOLIS DE PELICULA, Uruguay; TRINIDAD + TOBAGO FILM
FESTIVAL, Trinidad and Tobago), means that hundreds of thousands of
people from all over the world can learn the reality of Cuba, which
tries to hide it at all costs, and I refer not only to the misery, but
to the most terrible thing: a people subjugated to a brutal
dictatorship, for the violation of human rights is its denomination of
Seeing The Death of the Cat and voting for it at FIBABC means, besides
recognizing Lilo Vilaplana's talent, an act of patriotism, because his
participation in the Goya Festival will help open eyes to the reality of
Cuba for a great number of people in the world who have no possibility
of seeing it with their own eyes.
Certain that Angel Santiesteban would ask you to support Lilo Vilaplana
by voting for The Death of the Cat if they did not have him isolated as
they do, I ask it in his name.
To see and vote for The Death of the Cat, follow the next link:
by Angel Santiesteban
Finally, through my son's cell phone, on the visit he made me in recent
days where they have me incarcerated, I was able to see the short film
"The Death of the Cat," by Cuban director Lilo Vilaplana, living in
Colombia for more than a decade, a place where he took — besides his
talent, craft, some friends and his family — the bitterness that he
suffered first hand, totalitarian logic processes, and that now, as a
mature creator, he feels the duty to expose, first as literature and now
The traumas lived by Lilo, which he carried in his soul like a mother
who travels pregnant, began to flower in that second country — Colombia
— which opened its arms to his stroke of talent and effort in the
After a decade of successes, now he can afford to produce these short
films; the script of this particular one is based on one of the stories
from the collection "A Cuban Story," which saw light, also, after he
Many viewers will confuse its geography and think that it was filmed in
its totality in Havana, because at the beginning the character Armando
is seen walking through its streets, in the great performance by
Albertico Pujol, who was filmed by another colleague, at Lilo's request,
because of the impossibility of his entering Cuba.
Then the brilliant edition would be harmoniously connected with the rest
filmed in Colombia, thanks to the plausible set design by excellent
professionals who thought of even the most minute detail, and which
helped to color the Cuban reality at the end of the eighties decade of
the past century — on the eve of the officially named "Special Period"
that would uncover the worst penuries ever lived by the Cuban people and
that, in a snap, changed the perspectives of a nation deceived and
repressed for decades.
To lend context to the story, it is worth remembering that Lilo chose
the day after the execution of the Hero of the Republic of Cuba,
Brigadier General Arnaldo Ochoa, a circus spectacle by the Castro
brothers to entertain the people, to make them forget their hardships
and resist taking to the streets in protest.
It was also a lesson for the high military command — on the other hand
no less important — to remove the danger of those who had feathered
their leadership, and who imitated the habits of the Castro brothers,
their mentors, for those "that life was for enjoying at any cost."
Finally, once the officers "diverted from the principles that the
Revolution pursues" were punished, it was said in the official press
that the complaints by the government of the United States had to be put
to an end at once, complaints which accused Fidel Castro of being part
of international narco-trafficking that introduced drugs into its country.
Destroying those men who could testify about the regime's consent to the
participation — and with the most notorious drug lords, like Pablo
Escobar himself — they sealed an opprobrious chapter, and — as if it
were little — they exterminated those who could create a seditious plan
against their government and compete with brother Raul Castro for
Amid this national morass, the artist that grows within Lilo is
preoccupied with the little things, apparently inconsequential in the
eyes of most, in order to reflect them in the art, like hunger, the need
for a political transition, the loss of societal values, the separation
of family, and the painful scars, exposed, in this case, in the
character of Armando, who has no news of his son who launched himself to
sea on a raft, a long time ago; not knowing his whereabouts, he supposes
that he did not reach the Miami coast and lost his life.
The story walks the tightrope between social criticism and artistry,
between melodrama and sensitivity, managing, happily, to emerge
unscathed avoiding the pitfalls of trying to tell the deep suffering of
each actress, actor and production team, except the young actor Camilo
Vilaplana, who thanks to his parents, managed to grow up far from that
social catastrophe. In the end it manages to ward off, although it
always suggests, the conviction of those responsible for the desperate
reality; that judgment it leaves in the hands of the public,
particularly the Cuban public.
Also without making it obvious, it awakens that unavoidable fine humor
in Cubans although the worst occurs. The cat is the trophy for their
real salvation and objectives; adding meat to their food source is vital
for them and, in this case, the black pussycat becomes a symbol of the
worst, because it is also vengeance for the oppression that they feel
because of its owner, the neighborhood snitch.
The masterful performances by Jorge Prugorria as Raul, Alberto Pujol as
Armando, Barbaro Marin and Coralita Veloz, as Camilo and Delfina,
respectively, ride the scene, in a brilliant team, to a worthy height,
artistically speaking, which leaves a taste of pain instead of pleasure.
We are grateful for the effort of the Vilaplana family and the artist
friends that joined the project because in the death of the character
Armando, we kill part of the shadow that still pursues us from those
hardships, and in the suffering and tears of Raul and Camilo, our own
tears flowed, in the full exercise of personal exorcisms.
These days, the short film has been invited to participate in the Cannes
Festival; in spite of the pain of our lives reflected on the screen,
knowing that the guilty dictatorship still maintains power for more than
half a century, each time the Cubans wandering the world in search of
freedom and opportunity overcome the fear of being pursued in whatever
corner of the planet where they try to hide, they triumph, above all
with the weapon of art, the most effective of all.
Receive my embrace and thanks for the unmerited dedication, from your
brother Angel from the Lawton settlement.
Lawton Prison Settlement. May 2014.
Translated by mlk
21 September 2014
Source: Let's Join "The Death of The Cat" in Denouncing the Castro
Dictatorship at FIBABC | Translating Cuba -