In Defense of Cuba’s Low Budget Film Festival

By Circles Robinson

Photo: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

HAVANA TIMES, April 23 — Apparently under attack from a high-ranking Cuban politician, organizers of the Gibara Cine Pobre (Low-Budget) Film Festival published an open letter aimed at rallying support for their lauded project.

Started nearly a decade ago by the late Cuban filmmaker Humberto Solás (Lucía, Cecilia, El siglo de las luces, Miel para Oshun, Barrio Cuba, etc.) the festival took place each year in the fishing village of Gibara, Holguin, in the northeastern part of the island. The event drew much attention to the community which took an active role in hosting the international and national filmmakers and movie buffs.

The “open letter” responds to online reports that Esteban Lazo Hernández, one of five Cuban Vice-Presidents and a member of the Communist Party Politburo, had referred to the festival in a meeting in Holguin province as “a breeding ground for counter-revolutionaries and libertine youth.”

Without reproducing the accusation or mentioning Lazo by name, the “open letter” calls his statement “slanderous to the memory and life’s work of the event’s founder,” as well as offensive to the many collaborators of the forums and other activities that take place within the Low-budget Film Festival, reported IPS.

As announced in late March, the 9th edition of the Festival was moved to Havana where it took place on April 5-10.  The recent alleged statements from Lazo could now put a damper on its future.

The following is a Havana Times translation of the open letter from the Solas family.


As the revolutionaries that we are, and as continuers of the [Gibrara] Film Festival, a work of one of the most significant Cuban artists, Humberto Solas (a three-time winner of the National Cinema Award, and an integral revolutionary throughout his life and in his cinematographic work, from his early participation in the underground movement until the end of his life), and as co-founders of a revolutionary film festival that defends the cinema and the universal art vanguard, we intentionally refuse to repeat the counter-revolutionary and anti-Cuban libel, not even to refute it. However, given the irresponsible publication of slanderous comments on a number of blogs, we are obligated to make some principled explanations.

Several blogs published accusatory information in which the assertion was made — supposedly by a high-ranking Cuban leader — that “The festival has become a nest of counter-revolutionaries and libertine young people.” Some of their headlines announced the closing of the film festival due to its being considered “counter-revolutionary.”

That information is absolutely false.

For the Solas family, the organizers of Humberto Solas International Gibara Festival of Low-Budget Cinema, in the article by Omar Gonzalez published in April 2010 in the competition catalog and titled “Cine Pobre y multiple, diseminado y omnipresente” [Low-budget and multi-faceted cinema: Widely spread and omnipresent], he clearly expresses the position of ICAIC [the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry] and its respect for the Humberto Solas Low-Budget Film Festival and its organizers.

It is fitting to condemn any manipulative act — no matter how artificial it may be — that unleashes such gross media accusations aimed at the organizers, members and collaborators of ICAIC, and therefore against the ICAIC officials, numerous members of UNEAC (the Cuban Writers and Artists Association) and at the staff members of various bodies in Holguin Province.

A matter of this nature should be immediately refuted, not only because it defames the memory and living work of the event’s founder, but also because its being allowed injuriously to offend the numerous collaborators of each one of the forums and other event activities, which always consist of collectives that include national award-winning cinematographers, prestigious producers, writers, screenwriters, film curators, visual artists, distinguished musicians, as well as specialists in the areas of the environment, population and gender from the country’s most reputable entities.

We will continue defending the work and legacy of our dear Humberto Solas everywhere and at all times. It is necessary to conclude this letter in this manner:

As revolutionaries,

Elia Solas Borrego
Sergio Benvenuto Solas
Aldo Benvenuto Solas

Havana, April 21, 2011

One thought on “In Defense of Cuba’s Low Budget Film Festival

  • y que buen pan, deja el jamon pa’ Machado

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