HAVANA TIMES — An exhibition on independent Cuban film will be shown in March at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. This is an unprecedented event within Cuba’s cultural scene, there’s no doubt about that.
The movies which will be screened have all been censored by Cuban institutions and the government. Some haven’t even been screened on the island and most of them can’t feature in the Cuban Film catalogs that the Cuban Film Archive makes.
Organized in conjunction with Tania Bruguera and her Hannah Arendt International Institute for Artivism (INSTAR), a total of eight movies will be shown, including PM by Orlando Jimenez Leal and Saba Cabrera Infante (1961). This short film was censored by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry and marked the beginning of a cultural policy that was then outlined by Fidel Castro.
The other movies include:
Improper Conduct (1983, Orlando Jimenez Leal, Nestor Almendros), which wasn’t produced in Cuba but it was also banned here because it denounced the persecution and repression of homosexuals.
Extravagant Beings (Manuel Zayas 2004) is a follow-up of the investigation that began with Improper Conduct.
Santa & Andres (Carlos Lechuga, 2016) will also be shown as a continuity of the former two films but in fiction form.
These last movies have all been directly censored by the Cuban government: Persona (Eliecer Jimenez 2014), Crematorio (Juan Carlos Cremata, 2013), Despertar (Ricardo Figueredo and Anthony Bubaire 2011), El tren de la linea norte V (Marcelo Martin) and Nadie (Miguel Coyula, 2017), the latter having been censored by the police and State Security forces when they stopped it from being screened at a private home venue.
The exhibition was curated by film critic and journalist Dean Luis Reyes who will lead the inauguration. The filmmakers will also be at the exhibition.
Over recent months, Bruguera has been subject to interrogations by State Security agents to stop her work at INSTAR. Because of her actions, she has suffered censorship and has been scorned by Cuban institutions and even by some of her own colleagues.
During the whole month of February, her work Untitled (Havana, 2000), is on exhibit at the MoMA, originally conceived for the 2000 Havana Biennial and also censored in Cuba.
Blogger Liu Santiesteban wrote on on her Facebook wall: “An extraordiary piece so the free world can learn about the darkness that has invaded Cuba during these 58 years. A giant and sinister metaphor which makes you feel the anguish of the prisoner, the fear of being persecuted, the uncertainty of someone being censored, the helplessness of the oppressed…”
It’s the first time that a censored film exhibition is being organized outside of Cuba, which will open up doors to new filmmakers on the island.