By Francisco Castro
I can confirm that one can do anything in Cuban television; the resources exist. I’m not speaking in terms of spending millions of pesos to give Havana a 16th century look or erecting enormous facades in the streets of the city, but there does exit the talent and desire to do things.
There are thousands of ways to carry out worthwhile productions, ones of quality, that can compete with works “made in the USA” or in other parts of the world. As for the infrastructure that Cuban TV possesses – despite its being somewhat but not completely inadequate – I’m referring to the equipment of the Department of Video Taping, it is sufficient to put products on the air that people would feel proud of.
Only one thing is lacking for this utopian vision to be transformed into reality. A thin wall stands between these two states of imagination that impede one of the greatest miracles in life.
There is a wall within the people who decide what can and cannot be done on television, those who while thinking they are working for the good of people fail to notice that this service is not being rendered, not even to themselves.
This is a wall that not only separates utopia from reality, but one that confines freedom of speech, the right to identify oneself and feel oneself part of a process or of reality, the right to modify that reality or that process, which is to modify the environment that surrounds us and to even adapt it to our needs.
There exist many ways to break down that wall. One of them would be to kill fear. Fear is killed with new weapons, with new strategies that take by surprise superficiality, mediocrity, underestimation and vanity – the bricks of that wall. To use new weapons doesn’t mean discarding old ones, but integrating them with the best in them, seizing onto experience, calling on the past so as not to make mistakes in the future, as Martí did in his time. This is a basic Marxist formula.
To kill the fear of a miracle is a big task, but we can all be big. We all are big, because we are here for something. It is not the fear of movement that should worry us; it is the blockade that we must confront – the self-blockade. It is necessary to be big enough to identify the self-blockade, to bombard it. And this will also bombard the external blockade.
We can achieve excellence in television; my experience directing one professional production has allowed me to verify that the specialists who work for this institution have the interest as well as the professional and human qualities to make this possible. They only lack motivation, and this institution can provide them that incentive, which would ultimately be sustained by the work they would carry out.
There also exist the minimum objective conditions for work placement of students in the industry, which are perhaps the incentives that are lacking among those who work there now, and who (despite all their run-ins) have left their best years in the labyrinthine corridors of its halls. They have created a sense of ownership that makes them dream of the end of the blockades.
That same sense of ownership could be created within students, who are the future of television, by putting them in charge of their professional training, guaranteeing that the staleness and outmodedness of a great part of the programming could receive an injection of new blood, which is new life.
My minimal experience in heading up a professional production tells me this. How can we tap the experiences that have accumulated over the years? Why not learn from those experiences?