HAVANA TIMES — A specter is haunting Cuba: the offline specter. All of the conservative forces of the old Cuba do everything in their power to make this specter a permanent resident of the island, while those of us who identify with a new Cuba wish to exorcise it immediately, so that it will never return.
Offline: not connected, the protractedly transitory status and syndrome of massive, digital detachedness – the cause of many headaches, a stumbling block for bureaucrats trained in the years of analog socialism, innovative artists, the new bourgeoisie and those who claim to protect the island’s “national security.”
OFFLINE is the title of a new documentary that has been spreading like brushfire across the island, from USB memory to USB memory (since the majority of us Cubans are offline), from private viewing to private viewing. It is a documentary about (the lack of) Internet access in Cuba. I had received a phone call from the director, who asked me to pick up a copy. Before I did, a friend at work spoke to me about this new piece of courageous social critique.
OFFLINE, it seems, has become something of a viral specter for Cuba.
Directed by young filmmaker Yaima Pardo, OFFLINE invites us to reflect, together, on the dreams and nightmares surrounding (the lack of) Internet access in Cuba.
With an aggressive graphic design (which colonizes even the bodies of those interviewed in the documentary), the film bombards the viewer’s brain hemispheres with digital images captured from the most recent software, web-sites and Internet videos.
The filmmakers did not follow the traditional strategy used to debate the issue of Internet access in Cuba: the film avoids involving the much-promoted bloggers across the political spectrum, does not touch on the day’s controversies. Rather, it goes to the heart of the matter, placing the lack of Internet access within the context of Cuba’s historical development, approaching those who are the potential clients of an essential medium denied us.
An unflinching and honest approach, in my opinion.
OFFLINE’s visual discourse furnishes the comments of those interviewed with nearly subliminal suggestions pointing towards different potentialities and scenarios, different paths that Cuba could follow in the future, from makeshift robots to war tanks cutting across crowds of citizens.
The documentary is not without children in traditional uniforms and the word “revolution.” It is clear, however, that this word is used as that which has been absent, is absent and will continue to be absent from the agendas of our dear old bureaucracy.
The interview with a key decision-maker does not appear in the documentary. The individual did not agree to it – clear, documentary proof, if it was needed, of the country’s state of digital exception.
The director says that she wishes her documentary will have the same fate we hope Orwell’s 1984 will have: that it lose its actuality as soon as possible and that it be consigned to the peaceful recesses of who knows what archive.
I share this wish.
I wish for Internet access to cease being a specter for Cuba once and for all.