HAVANA TIMES – Almost a year has passed since I was distanced from my career in Cuba because of: “My criticism online of people who lead the Government and Communist Party,” an obvious case of censorship that has prevented me from working as an actress. That was definitely a turning point in my professional career, there’s no doubt about it, and it made me better understand how cultural policy works in my country.
First of all, I understood why people who have been censored are then forgiven by the system when they decide to: “Behave properly”.
Of course, if you publicly present yourself as someone who has been censored, this act in itself constitutes your own act of repudiation, as almost all of your collegues, or directors, will immediately and secretly delete you from their contact list. And, if any of them had ever thought about calling you or recommending you for a job, they clearly won’t now because they don’t want to be associated with you.
On the other hand, if you decide to sit still and stay quiet in the face of such an unjust sentence, the punishment will mostly likely be lifted from your head (although they will look at you with suspicion from now on), as a censored person’s silence is proof that the act of public criticism will not be repeated again.
An essential part of this collective shunning process is to also make sure that you have a really hard time, so that other people don’t want to follow your example. And, in my case, as an actress, I can be controlled when I’m playing a part because there’s a script, but once I start doing interviews, when works are promoted, I not only start engaging as an actress, but also as a citizen, and I’m sure the system sees me as a threat in this regard.
One of the unpleasant things I’ve had to face during this time is being repudiated by a director who I worked with on a film. It seems that he panicked when he saw the news about my censorship, and he sent me messages threatening to sue me, under the pretext that I had used his movie to promote my activism. It was an overreaction, and it’s clear that he needed to publicly distance himself from me.
I then realized how people in Cuba (and this is really regrettable), have accepted the mask that allows them to get by without being hurt by the regime. I saw this mask clearly on the employees at Actuar Agency, who treated me as “the enemy” as soon as my new status was announced (manipulated of course). These people don’t even have Internet access for starters. They projected their insecurities with the system onto me. They criticized me harshly as if I were to blame for everything bad in this country, because that’s what they are made to believe.
I recently found out that the monster of a legal project put in the hands of the Cuban Film Institute’s (ICAIC) current director, Ramon Saimada, is already in motion and the figure of “representative” has now been established. This is the government’s response to independent filmmakers’ demands for a new Film Law.
If I were living in different circumstances, I would be happy to know that independent filmmakers finally have a legal framework, but the reality is that the Law still hasn’t been approved, and this means they have absolutely no autonomy.
Which is to say that Samada and his team, without a budget even, or anything else to offer independent filmmakers apart from control, will also be their bosses and, therefore, in my case, the order is that I am still a censored actress.
Nevertheless, I have also learned that this great experience has many closed doors for me, but others have opened and there isn’t anything better or more precious than personal freedom. I am still an actress and the best thing out of all of this, I am working (illegally, of course) with people who think similarly to me. Yet this illegality is also proof that things need to change.