Monday, May 23, 2016

Filmmakers Reaffirm Their Demands

Filmmakers Reaffirm Their Demands / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 21 May 2016 – Three years after the first meeting
of the G20, a group of Cuban filmmakers who are demanding a Film Law,
the group continues to wait for an institutional response that
addresses their demands. This week a letter was made public reaffirming
their demands for greater recognition for filmmakers and the
legalization of independent productions, among other benefits.

Ignored by the official media and frowned upon by the authorities who
should be responding to these demands, the group has also been
transformed over its three years of existence. Exhausted, worn out and
with the responsibility of other commitments, a group that formerly
contained 22 names now has only eight members.

However, those who remain in the independent group believe that only
united can they achieve the objective of having filmmakers' expectations
valued, and address everyone's proposals in a practical way," says the
letter. They see that in this way they will be able to "confront the
tasks ahead quickly, efficiently and responsibly."

The artists make it clear that the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic
Art and Industry (ICAIC) should not disappear, but rather be
transformed. The group recognizes the institution as the "rector of the
film industry in the country" but clarifies that by saying that "the
ICAIC is all of us."

The highlight of their demands is the creation of a new Film Law to give
a "cultural and legal coherence to the film and audiovisual system in
the country."

In earlier statements the filmmakers stressed the urgency of seeking
better management and regulation of financial relations, banking and
taxes for their work in a "transparent and efficient" way, in a context
in which producers who not tied to the ICAIC now work without legal or
institutional support.

The filmmakers see as a ray of hope the use of the word "cinema" in one
of the new Guidelines emerging from the 7th Communist Party Congress
held earlier this year. In addition, comments on the concept of new
forms of economic management, made by Raul Castro at the Party Congress,
have fueled hopes that audiovisual creators could be included.

The document that has circulated this week by email summarizes the
events of the past three years and says that the effort has both "found
support and run into misunderstandings." The objectives that led to the
creation of the G20 "have not been realized," note the authors of the

At the head of the mission to overcome misunderstandings and multiply
support around the demands of filmmakers, are Manuel Perez Paredes and
Fernando Perez—both winners of the National Film Award—Jorge Luis
Sánchez, Magda González Grau, Dean Luis Reyes, Pedro Luis Rodriguez,
Mijaíl Rodriguez and, although his name does not initially appear as a
signatory of the letter, the filmmaker Enrique (Kiki) Álvarez.

The group emphasizes in its missive that it will continue "faithful to
its founding objectives." It also says that it will revisit the
"meetings and exchanges among artists of three generations," which it
qualifies as "one of the most legitimate conquests of these three
years." These meetings take place in the Fresa y Chocolate Cultural
Center in Havana.

The current legislation on cinema dates from 1959, when the ICAIC was
founded, but the emergence of new technologies, the appearance of
independent producers and the economic problems being experienced by the
ICAIC, along with the notorious cases of institutional censorship, have
exposed cracks in the regulations.

"The only chance for Cuban cinema to overcome its current ethical and
aesthetic poverty is a Film Law with all and for the good of all*,"
director Kiki Alvarez told 14ymedio. "The rest, the circumstantial
debates, are detours, delays and we never know anymore who favors them,"
he added.

*Translator's note: A quote from José Martí repeated without cease by
the Castros.

Source: Filmmakers Reaffirm Their Demands / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar –
Translating Cuba -

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