Economic crisis posing major challenge, say Cuban filmmakers

Cuban filmmakers Jorge Luis Sanchez, Nestor Alejandro Gil share filmmakers’ and artists’ challenges in Cuba and how its film industry is thriving nevertheless
Cuban filmmakers Jorge Luis Sanchez and Nestor Alejandro Gil | B P Deepu
Cuban filmmakers Jorge Luis Sanchez and Nestor Alejandro Gil | B P Deepu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  Despite mounting economic crisis and political embargo by the United States, the film industry in Cuba is staying afloat and making its presence in festivals in international festival circuits.  In an exclusive interaction with TNIE, Cuban filmmakers Jorge Luis Sanchez and Nestor Alejandro Gil shared the challenges faced by filmmakers and the artistic community in Cuba and how the Cuban film industry is thriving despite being faced with adverse challenges ranging from lack of latest technology, and prevailing politics crisis.

Filmmaker Jorge Luis Sanchez, who is attending the International Film Festival of Kerala,  said filmmakers are depending on other countries to make quality films. “We are using digital technology for filmmaking but for bringing out quality films that can be distributed globally we have to depend on other countries like Spain and France. The Cuban government has the intention to facilitate the making of good quality films but at present, the technology is unavailable to attain the level of perfection the filmmakers want,” says Jorge Luis Sanchez, who is showcasing his film ‘Cuba Libre’ in the Country Focus: Cuba category in the IFFK. 

According to them, many good films being made in Cuba are getting rejected as they fail to meet global standards. “Economic crisis is an issue and even if we want to make quality films, we are unable to bring the latest technology or equipment to Cuba for filmmaking because of the political embargo,” said Sanchez. The Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC), the agency under the Cuban government, is trying to support filmmakers. “ICAIC has only very limited funds and they can support only 15 or 20 films. They fund 80 per cent of the total project cost and it is a struggle finding co-producers from other countries,” Sanchez added.

Filmmaker Nestor Alejandro Gil, who is showcasing his film ‘Innocence’ at the festival, said that young filmmakers are illegally migrating to the US for a better future in filmmaking. “Many technicians and filmmakers are illegally migrating and it’s disheartening. Censorship is there and there is protest from the filmmakers against censoring. But after the digital boom, we can send our movies to festivals even without censorship. Before the digital era it was difficult,” said Nestor. 

After the recent visit by CM Pinarayi Vijayan to Cuba, the Kerala government and the Cuban government have agreed to collaborate in all possible sectors. The state government has initiated talks with the Cuban government to host a Malayalam film festival in Cuba shortly. Both filmmakers expressed interest in collaborating with the Indian and Malayalam film industry. 

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