Lynn Cruz is Committed to a Theater of Resistance

Lynn Cruz in a scene of ‘Corazón azul’, a film currently in production. (M. COYULA)

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Waldo Fernandez Cuenca, Havana, 15 February 2018 — The theatrical work Los enemigos del pueblo (The Enemies of the People), whose presentation at the independent El Círculo State Security forces sought to prevent, undoubtedly marks a watershed in the career of actress Lynn Cruz. At that time she decided to create, with her partner the filmmaker Miguel Coyula, art in a totally independent and political way.

Lynn Cruz boasts an extensive career. Since 2003 she has worked in several Cuban theater groups, and had an enriching experience in German theater, in 2009. She won the David Suárez Award for Best Actress in Venezuela, and the Cayenne Short Film Festival Award in New York, in 2016, both for her leading role in the short film El niño (The Boy). She was nominated for Best Actress at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2015 for the short film Finales, produced in Ecuador. She has formed part of the cast of Cuban films like La Pared (The Wall), Larga Distancia (Long Distance), ¿Eres tu, papá? (Is That You, Dad?) and the documentary (NadieNo one, by Coyula, censored in Cuba and honored at the 10th Film Festival of the Dominican Republic, in 2017. continue reading

DIARIO DE CUBA talked to her about her beginnings and her constant search for freedom in her professional career.

“In my adolescence I did not have a defined vocation, nor did I know what to do with my life. Since I didn’t want to end up without a university degree, I chose to study for a degree in Geography, which was one of the easiest majors. On that path I discovered that what I really liked was acting,” she explained.

“I ventured into amateur theater groups in Matanzas, where I lived, but I couldn’t make my way there. In the year 2000 I moved to Havana, where I was able to enter a professional group called the Teatro del Puerto. I was there for a year. Then I worked in other theater groups, until in 2009 I traveled to Germany to work with the independent group Pig’s Appeal in that country.”

What was the experience of doing theater in Germany like?

Before that Colombia was the only other country I knew, and it was the first time I was in a developed country. That really affected me as an artist. I started to question my identity, because I worked with German playwrights and actors. I also had to deal with a text openly critical of the Cuban reality, by Carlos A. Aguilera, and my reticence to perform it. That did not mean that I was in agreement with the Cuban political system, because I have always been very rebellious, but until then I identified more with the institutions than with what was outside of them.

The experience of doing theater in Germany was so intense, from every point of view, that it totally changed me. From that moment on, I lost the motivation to work for institutions. Before my trip I had achieved the dream of every actor, which is to play a leading role in a film, in Larga Distancia (Long Distance), directed by Esteban Insausti. But in the end I felt that my life was the same, that nothing had changed. It was then that I begin to think about forming my own theatrical group, independently.

How did you manage to put together the work El Regreso (The Return), which marked the birth of the Kairós Theater in 2011?

The work La Indiana, by the Catalonian Angels Aymar, in which the Catalonian presence in the 19th century is portrayed, and the nostalgia with which those indianos (Spanish emigrants) wrote their letters, speaking of their native land, spurred me to draw a parallel with Cubans who have left and their nostalgia for a lost land. I managed to get the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation to support me financially with its staging. However, the money was not much, and we had to reduce the number of actors, from six, originally, to one.

Then came the opposition by the president of the National Council of Performing Arts, Gisela González, to the work to being presented at the Adolfo Llauradó Theater. But I was determined to stage the work, even if it was in a park. In response to that meddling, the Spanish Embassy secured a space at the Las Carolinas (theater), in Old Havana, but the technicians wanted a bonus to stage it.

This kind of payment is a standard practice when they see you’ve got foreign financing. If you don’t pay it, you pay the price I did: they sabotaged the show. It was a horrible experience because the audience came in ahead of time, because there were no doormen, among other very unpleasant incidents. For practical reasons I could not continue at the Teatro Kairós at that time. I had no money to support it, and I accepted other offers to work in cinema.

How did the play Los enemigos del pueblo (The Enemies of the People) come about. Was it your return to an openly critical and practically solo theater?

The theater director Adonis Milan found out that I had shouted “¡Viva Cuba libre!” at a show where that was not in the script. He told me that he wanted to work with me, and he showed me Charlotte Corday, by Nara Mansur.

When I saw that work, so timid, I felt that I couldn’t do it. “Cuban theatre cannot continue to bite its tongue. It must make a commitment to the era in which we live.” I expressed to him that I would rewrite the text to see how it turned out, and so was born The Enemies of the People, where the main reason why Charlotte Corday [who murdered Jean-Paul Marat during the French Revolution] wants to kill Fidel Castro is because the crime of the March 13 Tugboat has gone unpunished.

And, as the cause of Castro’s death was never announced, I thought I could invent a murderer and, more than Charlotte Corday, it is history that does justice.

I feel like this work was not my choice, but that it chose me, because of the emotional impact I felt when I saw the images and accounts of the survivors of that crime.

Although I had second thoughts, because of the consequences it could mean for me, I felt it was my duty to do it. From that moment on, the feeling of freedom that I have felt makes up for possible losses.

What projects are you currently working on?

For some time now I’ve been writing a series of monologues that I have titled Patriotism 3.677, inspired by the anthology Spoon Rivers, by the American poet Edgar Lee Masters. This work is a discussion about the political situation and the future of Cuba, in which five people talk about freedom, democracy and change.

The Kairós Theatre is shaping up and wants to do political theater, in which the tyranny under which we live is directly criticized. It is a theater of resistance because, as everyone knows, all the other theaters belong to the Government. We have managed to perform The Enemies of the People six more times at private homes. Each stage, because it is different, makes every show unique.

I have also been working for the last six years as an actress, co-writer and producer on the science fiction feature film Corazón Azul, by Miguel Coyula. Shooting this film is like travelling, in terms of time and intensity. Working with Coyula, due to how long it takes to complete his films, becomes a life experience. He is a director who works in an artisanal way, and we were brought together by my conception of theater, with a small team, and independently.

This is related to the part behind the cameras. As an actress I like stylized cinema and, since there is not much of it in Cuba, where more realistic films are made, working with him is a real treat.

In Corazón Azul I play Helena, a mysterious woman who has been part of a genetic experiment carried out by Fidel Castro to create the new man. She is a kind of Helen of Troy, and triggers the main conflict in the movie. We have completed 50 minutes, adjusting to the actors’ time, as the budget does not allow for a traditional production.

Note: This translation is from Diario de Cuba’s English site

“They’re Using You”

The creators of the play Enemies of the People denounce that State Security called the piece “subversive” without knowing anything about it. (@liavillares)

Havana Times, Lynn Cruz, 5 February 2018 — I recently read Tania Bruguera’s statements about an artist’s rights. One of them referred to the artist’s right to dissent.

Within an authoritarian system, the artist begins to live a double dissidence, first in art, then in society.

Having your own voice is always grounds for suspicion among members of your artistic community, but when it’s the Government who has the last world with regard to a phenomenon which only concerns art, like deciding who is a revolutionary and who isn’t, then this does put us in a delicate position. continue reading

The two times I invited my closest colleagues to the alternative venue: “Casa Galería El Círculo,” (led by artists and activists Luis Trapaga and Lia Villares), some have told me: “I don’t go to those places.” Others have just respond with silence or stop calling you. And if worst comes to the worst, they repudiate you.

There were actors, theater directors and filmmakers among those I had invited to watch my play “Enemies of the People.”

After the scandal (produced by the presence of State Security forces and police at the home/gallery’s doors, saying that it was a counter-revolutionary play), an actor I had invited, who ironically also makes theater at his home, called me to say that: “He felt used by me.”

He was quite frankly terrified when he saw himself in a video that the house’s owners and a journalist had decided to film, as their only form of defense and way to denounce this injustice.

Plus, this actor is someone who has strong opinions about Cuban reality, who I had always had an open and straight-to-the-point dialogue with before the event. I even told him that something similar had happened at this same place when the documentary Nadie was scheduled to be screened, which the creator, filmmaker and theater director Miguel Coyula, couldn’t even attend.

Even so, he had a scornful attitude towards me: “I feel used.”

What do these words mean in our context? If a lie is repeated enough times, it becomes the truth. Fidel Castro transformed the Cuban people into an army, whose soldiers didn’t fight against an enemy, but fight each other instead, while he took all of the glory.

The subtext that lies between the lines of this phrase: “They’re using you” is “Let me be the only one to use you.” Thus, artists who are condemning or approving slander campaigns against their colleagues, who are being persecuted for defending the right to make political art, become pawns in a game of established power which isn’t only being played by arts institutions, but by the Cuban government itself.

“Enemies of the People” deals with an event that continues to go unpunished today: the sinking of the 13 de marzo tugboat on July 13, 1994.

Back then, Castro condemned the US Government instead of the captains of the attacking boats (encouraged by him even?), the real ones responsible for the genocidal event which caused half of those on board to die from drowning, including children. However, survivors’ testimonies are pristine proof of the event.

However, Article 3 of the Cuban Constitution states: “In the Republic of Cuba, the sovereignty resides in the people, from whom all of the power of the State emanates….” it goes on to say: “All citizens have the right to fight, using all means, including armed struggle, when no other recourse is possible, against anyone attempting to overthrow the political, social, and economic order established by this Constitution”… and ends by saying: “Cuba shall never return to capitalism.”

This explains why the people responsible for the sinking were labeled “heroes” and haven’t been sentenced to this very day. We mustn’t forget that the brains behind this system were the brains of a lawyer.

Note: English translation from the Havana Times which also published the original in Spanish.

Cuban Police Detain El Círculo Gallery Artists Villares and Trapaga for 24 Hours

The authorities informed Lia Villares and Luis Trápaga that they are “in the middle of an investigative process.” (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 February 2018 — A police search of Havana’s independent El Círculo Gallery, managed by the activist Lía Villares and the painter Luis Trápaga, ended with the seizure of computers, cameras and video cameras, several hard drives, USB drives and cell phones.

The authorities informed Villares and Trápaga, the owner of the house where the gallery is located, that they are “in the middle of an investigative process,” the activist and blogger told 14ymedio, after being released on Saturday night.

Officers of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR), State Security agents and two witnesses from the neighborhood, as required by law, participated in the search. They all entered the house showing a search warrant. continue reading

“They did not allow me be present, only Luis, they had me the whole time and I could not see what was happening,” says Villares. “I sensed the flashes of the photos that they took as they went were room by room, from the kitchen to the terrace.”

The search of the four room house began at 10:00 in the morning and ended after 3:00 in the afternoon.

“They took at least six hard drives, which have all my work from over the last ten years and the most recent material for a documentary I’m doing called Free Art vs. Totalitarian Censorship,” laments Villares.

On the drives are the interviews that the activist has done with several censored artists. The officers also took the printer, three laptops, several compact discs, USB memories and two new phones.

Luis Trápaga says that at the end of the search he was given a copy of the list of confiscated objects that he signed. Both activists insist that they will demand justice for all the equipment to be returned.

At the end of last year the El Círculo gallery experienced several episodes of censorship by the PNR and State Security for the activities it organizes. In some cases, the authorities prevented the guests from entering and at other times arrested the artists themselves.

According to the testimony of Villares, the people participating in the search were the same ones who have carried out the repression against the plays of Lynn Cruz and Adonis Milan.

“There were all those who appear in the videos, there is a lieutenant colonel who sounds familiar to me of the case against El Sexto (graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado) and Lieutenant Colonel Kenia María Morales Larrea, who seemed to be in charge of the operation,” she says.

The activist also remembers other officers like Captain Efrein. An officer who calls himself Luis Miguel took a statement about the origin of the equipment, printed matter and stickers.

Villares was also questioned about her links with the distribution of stickers and documents about the Cuba Decides campaign, which promotes the holding of a plebiscite in Cuba to change the political system of the island.

At first after the search, Villares was taken to the 21st and C Police Station, in Vedado, and Trápaga was taken to the Zapata and C station. On Friday night she was transferred to another station in San Miguel del Padrón.

Villares was released a little before 8 o’clock on Saturday night and Trápaga a few minutes later. “They spent all their time asking me where I had gotten everything from and what I was going to do with the Cuba Decide pamphlets,” says Villares.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

My First Encounter with State Security

The only performance of ‘Hamlet Machine’ in Santiago de Cuba. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Adonis Milán, Havana, 6 December 2017 — For the past two years I have been directing an independent group called Persephone Theater. We recently premiered the play Hamlet Machine, by the German author Heiner Müller, with a staging that shows the overwhelming parallelism between the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) and present-day Cuba.

I traveled with this work to the province of Santiago de Cuba to give performances on November 24 and 25. When I arrived, I received a phone call from a compañero in State Security asking me if I had received a police summons. I explained that I am out of Havana and he said he would call me as soon as I return.

On the day of the first performance in Santiago, a jury of censors belonging to the Provincial Council of Performing Arts and Party cadres from that province were waiting for me in the theater. They demanded to see the work before it was shown to the public. continue reading

After countless technical setbacks to staging the performance for the censorship commission, they finally decided to let the performances go forward but said: “This is a very difficult week since it commemorates the death of the Comandante (Fidel Castro) and anything could be misinterpreted or taken as a offense to his memory.”

Despite how draining this situation was for the actor and the technicians, the performance went on as planned that night. However, the work was suspended by State Security the following day: it was November 25, the date on which Fidel Castro died.

On returning to Havana, I learned that the repression had also touched the capital. Those in charge of the Museum of Dissidence, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Yanelys Núñez, were arbitrarily arrested and threatened. The police entered the house-galleryof the artists Luis Trápaga and Lia Villares where they planned to present The Enemies of the People, directed by the film director Miguel Coyula and written by the actress Lynn Cruz. In addition, they questioned artist-activist Tania Bruguera and her guests who were conducting the second stage of the Behavior Art Workshop.

On my second day in Havana, the Sate Security compañero calls me again, this time on my home phone. He summons me for a meeting at 5:00 in the afternoon at the police station on Cuba and Chacón, in Old Havana. Arriving at the station I am received by a boy in his mid-twenties, handsome and even kind, I could hardly believe it, I was expecting a troglodyte.

He leads me to the second floor of the station, an empty, cold and chilling place, nothing like the downstairs crowded with police, people and posters of the Revolution on the walls.

We entered a computer room where he introduced me to Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Muñoz, a middle-aged man. Then we go to the back of the room where there is a small office. I have to empty my pockets and remove my phone so I can not record the interrogation.

They want to know my relationships with other censored artists, warn me that Luis Manuel Otero, Yanelys Nunez, Lynn Cruz, Miguel Coyula, Lia Villares and Tania Bruguera are counterrevolutionaries, and that any link with them or their spaces would bring me problems. They warn me that my interests and needs as an artist are in danger because I see myself with these people disaffected with the Revolution.

The fundamental reason behind the citation was that a week before I spontaneously distributed a promotion for Cuba Decides at the press conference for the Biennial00, an independent event organized by the artist Luis Manuel Otero. They added the word “counterrevolution” again to describe the Cuba Decides campaign led by Rosa María Payá, whom they accused of being a “mercenary.” The whole time they tried to tear down the people who oppose the Castro regime, even demeaning the work of the opposition artists with ridicule.

The youngest of the State Security agents tells me that he had attended one of the performances of my work Hamlet Machine, that’s why his face was so familiar to me. Since when is State Security following me? They had done research among my neighbors, checked my Facebook wall and even had my phones tapped.

At the beginning of the interrogation I had shown myself before them, making jokes so as not to feel intimidated. After a few hours, all my defense mechanisms were dismantled. The fear arrived, the fatigue of revisiting the same subject, and apathy in the face of what I was hearing. All my energy collapsed.

In the end, what they wanted was for me to work for the Department of State Security (DSE) as an informant, to give them information about the censored artists with whom I relate, especially about Tania Bruguera. They wanted me to inquire about their sources of economic support because they said that someone abroad produced these dissident activities, a head that united the artists, activists and opponents against the Castro government.

If I complied with their request to be a chivato (snitch), and they would provide benefits for my theater group and they would give me a project within the National Council of Performing Arts (CNAE), where I would have a staff of actors and later an official headquarters.

They asked me to sign a document in which I committed to work for State Security. I asked that I be allowed to read the document, to which the lieutenant colonel replied “If you read it, you sign it.” Since the theater runs through my blood, I think of the most naive idea of all, to pass as a double agent and provide false information to State Security. I was playing in a scene that had nothing to do with fiction.

Finally, they take out the document, in which the heading, “Juramento” (Oath) is written in large letters, a word that made me back down. But it was too late or at least that’s how they made me feel. They had to change the paper, since the first one was stained with ink because my hands would not stop sweating because of nerves. I filled in the form, in which they asked me for for personal information and later I signed it.

Then the lieutenant colonel tells me that he is the one who attends the Book Institute and the other colleague would soon start attending the CNAE (Naitonal Theater Arts Council). They express their disagreement with the work Departures and with its director, Nelda Castillo, and ask me if I have any kind of link with her. They say that they will give me a kind of course where I would learn how to get information from people and they want me to tell them what plays have ideological problems. So the repression is beyond whether you are an independent artist or an artist who works for within an institution.

They say goodbye to me with an affectionate handshake, as if to let me know that I am part of them. Before leaving, they let me know that what we are talking about can not be communicated even to my pillow and they urge me to do theater that has nothing to do with politics. The interrogation lasted about four hours.

As soon as I am out in the street I think about everything. I see that playing double agent is not child’s play and how dangerous it can be. Of course working as a chivatón for Security goes against my principles, although they believe that being an artist, young and gay, I would be easy to manipulate. They were wrong. Because I would never betray my faith, devotion and respect towards art and artists.

We artists are and will be the true revolutionaries, we place our trust on a revolution of thought and work. We believe in freedom and respect for individuality, we believe in true democracy. We have faith in the change to come.

A few days ago, after telling all this to my friend the actress Lynn Cruz, she sent me this text message: “Adonis dear. Nobody remembers who governed in Spain when Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, but everyone knows who Don Quixote is. Governments happen but art is forever. Judas believed that betraying Christ was the thing of a single day, and you see what happened. These are moments of definitions, create, write, do work, defend your theater, resist like Carlos Celdrán, Carlos Díaz, Nelda Castillo. They all started in the rooms of their homes. The force is not in the body, but in the wonder of the minds. Live art forever! I love you so much. Work for yourself and your art.”

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuban State Security Blockades a Play in El Círculo Gallery (Updated)

The creators of the play Enemies of the People denounce that State Security called the piece “subversive” without knowing anything about it. (@liavillares)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 November 2017 – Cuban State Security managed to limit attendance to just two people to last night’s premiere play The Enemies of the People. The police cordon set up around the El Círculo gallery in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, where the play was going to be performed, worked as a method of pressure to intimidate would-be audience members.

Activist Lía Villares, owner of the house that that provides the premises for the theater, related via twitter what happened when members of the political police were stationed in the vicinity of the Villares’s house and pressured the numerous guests to not enter. “Everything that happened yesterday in the presence of witnesses and neighbors demonstrates the agonizing situation of cultural rights and freedom of expression in Cuba,” denounced Villares. continue reading

Despite the pressures, the activist said that actress “Lynn Cruz could not have given a better performance.”

The work, interpreted by Cruz and directed by filmmaker Miguel Coyula, offers “a timely vision of Cuban society subjected to a dictatorship,” explain its organizers.

Cruz reincarnates Charlotte Corday, a famous character of the French Revolution and who murdered Jean-Paul Marat. On this occasion, however, instead of Marat, Fidel Castro is the target of her action.

In her Twitter account Lia Villares said that the staging “almost starred the henchmen of Section 21,” the Department of State Security that deals with surveillance against opponents. “They did not allow anyone to enter” the El Círculo Gallery, lamented the activist.

The piece also has an incognito character, played by the musician Gorki Águila who delivers an emotional reading of the list of names of the 41 victims of the 13 Tugboat 13 de Marzo, sunk in July 1994 by four official boats that used water cannons to attack the boat on which the victims were trying to flee the country.

The seats were empty and photographed to denounce the absence of the audience who felt pressured and left without seeing the work. (14ymedio)

Those killed in the tugboat incident were between the ages of 6 months and 50 years. After a week in which the official media silenced what happened, Fidel Castro described the performance of the crews of the boats that attacked the tugboat as a “truly patriotic effort.”

The independent El Círculo gallery is a frequent target of police operations. Last April, a large deployment of troops prevented the public from attending the screening of the documentary Nadie (Nobody) directed by Coyula, which presents the life of the poet Rafael Alcides, censored in the official publications.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuban State Security and Police Prevent Screening of Independent Film in Havana

Actress Lynn Cruz in a scene from ‘Nadie’ (Nobody)

Statement from Miguel Coyula and Lynn Cruz

15 April 2017, 8:00 PM, Havana: Cuban State Security and Police blocked the street leading to the Gallery El Circulo in Havana in order to prevent the audience from attending the screening of Miguel Coyula’s independent film Nadie, which depicts  the story of the Cuban Revolution through the eyes of Cuban Poet Rafael Alcides. On January 29th the film won the Best Documentary award during its world Premiere at the Global Film Festival in Santo Domingo.

We were asked for our IDs, then crossed checked them with a list they had and proceeded to tell us we were not allowed to enter the block. We asked for the reason and they said it was confidential.

Later we found that over 40 people were turned back as well. We denounce censorship in its full scale, as it is the role of artists to create, exhibit and defend their creation.  It’s important for any independent filmmaker to express not only on the screen, but also in life, since life inevitably is reflected in art.

/signed/

Miguel Coyula (director) and Lynn Cruz (actress)

Miguel Coyula

State Security Prevents Screening Of Miguel Coyula’s Documentary ‘Nadie’

Note: The video above is not subtitled but the excerpts from Nadie here are subtitled.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 16 April 2017 – Cuba’s State Security and the National Revolutionary Police surrounded the independent gallery El Círculo to prevent this Saturday’s screening of the documentary Nadie (Nobody), directed by Miguel Coyula and featuring the censored poet and writer Rafael Alcides.

The filmmaker and his wife, actress Lynn Cruz, were intercepted by police at the corner of 13th and 10th Streets in Havana’s Vedado district. Starting several hours earlier the agents had closed the street to vehicles and pedestrians, according to a statement made from the location to 14ymedio.

Cruz and Coyula point out that without any reason and with “only a vague argument” the operation was carried out in the area, and the police asked for their IDs and didn’t let them pass. Only “four Spanish diplomats” managed to reach the gallery, according to Lia Villares, curator of El Circulo. continue reading

On 29 January Nadie received the Award for the Best Documentary during its international premier in the Dominican Global Film Festival.

“A group of uniformed men and others in civilian clothes advanced toward us. One of them took out a piece of paper with a list and compared our names with those written there”

“A group of uniformed men and others in civilian clothes advanced toward us. One of them took out a piece of paper with a list and compared our names with those written there,” said Coyula and Cruz describing the moment when the police blocked their access to the site where the documentary was going to be shown.

Cruz also denounced that State Security warned several of the invited guests that the operation was being carried out to “save” them from the “counterrevolutionaries” who had “deceptively” issued invitations to the screening.

“As authors of the work, we denounce the censorship that the government exercises because this time it went beyond the institution,” said Coyula.

“Art is also about the citizen’s right to share and discuss a film. Intellectuals and artists need to take a firm stand and defend their right to perform and display critical works, without compromise, because the attitude that that they take in life ends us being reflected in their work,” he added, speaking to 14ymedio.

Screen shot of the documentary Nadie with Rafael Alcides.

Following the police deployment that prevented access to the gallery, the filmmaker invited several friends to his home where he projected the documentary. Among the guests was Michel Matos, director of Matraka Productions, who is strongly criticized by officialdom.

The Círculo had also announced a Saturday screening of Carlos Lechuga’s film, Santa and Andrés, but the film’s producer, Claudia Calviño, refused to allow the projection and called the gesture an “illegality” saying “this and other activities are outside the traditional marketing framework.”

Lía Villares circulated an email on Sunday in which she defined the “political” character of the gallery that seeks to “promote a culture that continues to be censored despite international awareness and witnesses.” The activist also points out that it is in Cuba that artists have “a moral responsibility to the present and future.”

Rafael Alcides Close Up / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 6 June 2016 — Cuban filmmaker Miguel Coyula participated in the New Media Film Festival of Los Angeles with the seventh chapter of his series Rafael Alcides. The short film was part of a more than two-hour interview with with the well-known poet and writer, addressing topics such as art, beauty and Cuba past and present.

Filmed in Havana, with a minimalist presentation, in this seventh installment the actress Lynn Cruz recites the poem The Stranger, which gives its title to the chapter, in a moving and unadorned interpretation that salvages the lyrical work of an author now silenced in Cuba’s official catalogs and anthologies. continue reading

In the previous installments of the series, Alcides reflects on the relationship between intellectuals and power, the figure of Fidel Castro and the role played by the Cuban people in several events of the last 150 years.

The Stranger is competing in the Web Series category, along with submissions from 37 countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, France, Germany, Spain, Russia and Vietnam. The festival will take place June 7-9 at Landmark Theatres in Los Angeles and the short, just over two minutes long, is being presented as a world premiere.

The showing in Los Angeles will constitute the premiere of an official exhibition of the series directed, edited and designed by Miguel Coyula, who is also in charge of photography. However, the film has been available for weeks on the filmmaker’s Youtube channel.

During the last Young Filmmakers Exhibition, Coyula was invited to participate in the panel Routes and Routes, Cuban Cinema of the Diaspora in the 21st Century, organized by the researched Zaira Zarza. This panel debated the peculiarities of the diaspora and the formulas to keep alive contacts between “those who leave” and their audience on the island.

In his presentation, Coyula formally introduced the sixth chapter of the series dedicated to Alcides, under the title Capitalism. The filmmaker maintains in these recent creations his particular style of independent and artisanal production, relaying on clean and simple visual effects that build to a striking finale, with his pinpoint accuracy in mixing music, voice and image.

Coyula’s debut in feature films was Red Cockroaches and among his most outstanding productions is Memories of Overdevelopment, which was chosen in 2010 as the Best Cuban Film of that year by the International Film Guide. After several years living in the United States, the filmmaker has returned to live in Havana, where he is filming his third feature film: Blue Heart.

See also:

“I want more movies and fewer laws” / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

Miguel Coyula: All Movies All The Time / Regina Coyula

Resignation Over Censorship / Miguel Coyula

Independent Cinema, Dependent Cinema / Miguel Coyula

 

Free or Slaves? / 14ymedio, Lynn Cruz

Scene from 'The Emigrants' by Slawomir Mrozek, directed by Sahily Moreda. (14ymedio)
Scene from ‘The Emigrants’ by Slawomir Mrozek, directed by Sahily Moreda. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Lynn Cruz, Havana, 30 August 2015 — The play The Emigrants (1975), by the Polish playwright Slawomir Mrozek has been staged by Sahily Moreado and his company Teatro del Cuartel at Sala Teatro El Sotano in Havana. This story of tearing apart, uprooting and exile will present the final shows of its revival over the weekend.

One of the characters fled for political reasons, while the other to escape misery. The first believes in the value of being able to think and speak freely, while the latter wants to make money to return to his family. Two visions of the world coexist in a basement, but what isn’t specified is in which country or city.

Driven by survival, each character shows his most primitive side and at the moments when the atmosphere becomes more sordid than dreary, the theater piece evokes the work Two Lost in the Filthy Night (1966) by the Brazilian Linio Marcos. continue reading

Because The Emigrants is presented in a Cuban scenario, for the audience the association is immediate: Two Cuban immigrants in a first world country. Thus, the two realities end up merged, and even more so due to the historic similarities that unite us with Poland.

The absence of scene design, however, weakens the vision. For example, the use of Caribbean objects and furniture found in any Cuban house or kitchen. Another notable aspect were the sudden and almost mechanical lighting transitions, which at many points are divorced from the rhythm of the staging.

However, the minimalism, as well as the use of space and each of the elements, display no lack of rigor. Moreda, in addition to being characterized by his exhaustive selection of texts, fends intelligently for himself, countering the material deficiencies with the quality of his performers, who achieve particularly emotional moments.

It is not difficult for the spectators to enter in the atmosphere of the basement where the story narrated by the play takes place. A match between the real space and the theatrical space, with the odor of dampness and the dust in the room, this time, favors the fiction.

The characters are from different backgrounds and had they remained in their birth countries it is probable that their paths never would have crossed. This is one of the conflicts of the play, which also addresses the psychological processes an immigrant passes through, ranging from the more casual relationship between them, to the most extreme circumstances.

The intellectual proclaims that he lives in post-socialism, now that he can say and express what he feels. He experiences freedom, but he has lost conflict as a driving force for creativity and his truths must be spoken in the place where they were engendered. On the other hand, the construction worker, his roommate, is his object of analysis and he needs him to cope with the displacement.

The subject and the object become one. The intellectual calls him slave, and challenges him to say what he thinks, without fear. He confronts the worker with his truth: The loss of the sense of the journey. With this he goes into a deeper truth that leads him to question even his own existence.

The truthfulness in his characters, the precision of movement as well as the careful diction, often absent in today’s Cuba, characterize the excellent performance of Daniel Robles. The young actor excels in an way, along with the more experienced Walfrido Serrano, who has returned memorable performances in Teatro El Publico. The latter, however, is excessively theatrical in his delivery at times and should check his laughter which, on occasion, tarnishes his naturalness.

The Emigrants arrives on the Cuban scene and, beyond history versus the individual, Mrozek digs into the human aspect. It brings us to accept out truth without distorting it, makes us live truly in the present and positively influences our future. It leaves us with an individual question: Are we free or are we slaves?