HAVANA TIMES – Last Saturday morning, a panel dedicated to the late and controversial Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infanta, was held as part of a series of conferences at the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) Young Filmmakers Festival.
I went because an event like this was definitely historic, you might say, especially because Cabrera Infante left this world without reconciling with the traumatic process that has been the Cuban Revolution.
Anecdotes, tongue-in-cheek remarks, sad moments in the voice of filmmaker Fernando Perez, writer Anton Arrufat, critics Juan Antonio Garcia Borrero and Antonio Enrique Garcia Rojas, among others, made up the panel.
I am mentioning these sad moments because while listening to a past (that is still present), I felt how Arrufat and Perez are two survivors, especially Arrufat who suffered censorship. I identified with him because I know full well what this entails and just how much it has harmed Cuban intellectuals and artists over these past sixty years.
Even though Arrufat was ironic about the fact that censorship came from colonial times, and it’s true, the difference is that Cuba was, in theory, a free land in 1959.
For those who were very young during that time or had a much more open-minded vision about the world, or had thought that the revolution would make a difference, their fate was to leave the island, to leave everything behind.
On the contrary, others chose to believe and trust the process, who can’t be blamed as those were very confusing times, especially for those who came out of it victorious, coming from the poorer classes.
Being considered “a worm”, was a stigma that went far beyond oceans and borders. It dragged people’s names through the dirt even when they left just so they could protect their individuality. This label accompanied artists and intellectuals of the time, including Cabrera Infante.
Approximately two weeks ago, ICAIC also screened the documentary “Portrait of an ever-adolescent artist (a history of cinema in Cuba)”, about the important filmmaker and a founder of this institution, Julio Garcia Espinosa. The movie also deals with the conflict between artists and politicians, focusing on filmmakers.
This historic revisionism that has chosen artists has to do with the crisis that has risen with the transition process, that began in April 2018 when Miguel Diaz-Canel became Cuba’s new president.
In the face of the Revolution’s dying corpse, considered to be one of the most radical in the world, we have no choice but to look to the past and ask, what has this all been? Who has it served? Seeing so many young people gathered together, listening, asking questions, gave me hope that at least the health of this seventh art picks up again, in fact I was able to see several quality works in the competition.
That said, something everyone should understand, crystal-clear, is that this country won’t regenerate until those in power make an apology. It’s not enough to mention Cabrera Infante and pretend that everything is changing, when according to a woman present (filmmaker Magda Gonzalez Grau), she is still receiving blacklists.
Talking about Cabrera Infante is recognizing the existence of a diaspora community. Therefore, real transition implies an analysis of all its parts.