HAVANA TIMES – We attended the International Human Rights Film Festival in Bogota, Colombia that ran from August 22nd until the 29th. It kicked off with the movie El silencio by Brazilian filmmaker Beatriz Seigner, a heartbreaking movie about the peace agreement in Colombia, narrated from the point of view of the missing.
I gradually realized that this was a favorite subject among Colombian filmmakers, as I saw it pop up in more than one movie. The reincorporation program of war victims sparked the population’s awareness about the fact that the poor are the ones who are killing one another: “Rich kids aren’t going to fight,” this is a line from one of El Silencio’s scripts, but when they speak to people on the street, they say the exact same thing.
A few days ago, Ivan Marquez (who had been the FARC’s number 2), made a call to FARC members to take up arms again, using the pretext to free themselves from government oppression. This is a very delicate stance at a time when an end was sought to the armed conflict that hasn’t done anything but harm the Colombian people, a reaction that could be capitalized on by the ultra-right lingering in the shadows, under former president Alvaro Uribe’s leadership.
We presented Nadie amidst this political landscape. In the movie theater, a Colombian who must have been over 70 years old, got up out of his seat, outraged and shouted out that our documentary, directed by filmmaker Miguel Coyula, had been funded by the CIA.
To tell you the truth, Fidel with his anti-imperialist flag as the main strength of his discourse, attracted many supporters, especially the Left both in the US and Latin America. Alongside a happy people, who are constantly celebrating carnival (let’s remember that authoritarianism entered Cuba via the conga parade), triggered the political blindness of progressives the world over.
It’s strange though, because Cubans suffer Imperialism not only from the Right, but from the Left too, which you can’t argue with about their romantic vision of the revolutionary process; you even run the risk of being labeled a “worm”, as the term was also exported in order to eradicate any gesture of kindness extended to Cuban intellectuals or artists in exile.
I must admit that my reaction to that man’s insult at the Cinemateca in Bogota, filled me with great rage, tired of not being understood both on and off my island. In response to a comment made by another viewer, about the US’ embargo on the island, I said that Cuba had been a parasite of the former Soviet Union for the a past 30 years. I told her that I understood her devotion though, because propaganda and acts of espionage are the only things that work on the Island.
Movies are very important, which is why the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) was created in 1959. The movies that ran in this category at the Festival aren’t completely post-Communist. In addition to Nadie, the documentary En Un Rincon del Alma by Jorge Dalton, La Teoria cubana de la Sociead Perfecta y La Singular Historia de Juan sin Nada by Ricardo Figueredo, as well as feature movies Santa y Andres by Carlos Lechuga. With the presence of punk rock band Porno Parar Ricardo during the screening of the incomplete movie Minimo Gorki by Lia Villares (after the master recordings were confiscated by State Security.)
All of these movies are banned at film festivals in Cuba, be it the one in Gibara just like Havana’s, indistinctively. “Some of them have been taken off the program after they were initially received. For example, Santa y Andres was also withdrawn from the official Havana Film Festival competition in New York. Nadie at the Mar del Plata in Argentina after facing a wave of repression from State Security agents and police in Cuba who blocked a screening at the private El Circulo Home/Gallery, which is run by visual artist Luis Trapaga in Havana.
However, the Cuban government, its civil army (bureaucrats) and the military, have violated or ignored the fact that while they beat us down, everyone else is watching. Up until today, Cuban movies hadn’t been included at human rights festivals, as our conflicts have always been minimized. All of these excluded works are slowly but surely finding a place, no matter how great the desire is to silence them.
The following is a trailer from the Medellín, Colombia Cineclub where Nadie was presented during the festival.