14ymedio, 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 “Rafael Alcides Close Up / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar”
Wild River Review, Judith Zinis, October 2015 — Miguel Coyula, a one-man cinema “band,” writes, films, edits, and does post-production on all his films. Although his work has won awards and been well received in the United States, Europe, and South America, none of his films have been released in Cuba. During several evenings in Havana, we explored his approach to filmmaking and his views on the difficulties of being an artist in both Cuba and the United States.
Mr. Coyula studied film at the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión of San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba (EICTV) and has spent extensive periods in the United States as the recipient of a Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute Scholarship, on a Guggenheim grant, and as a lecturer at various universities. As one fan commented on his first feature film, Red Cockroaches, “this film should be shown to every beginning filmmaker.” Made for $2,000.00 and described as a merging of surrealism and science fiction, Red Cockroaches, with its high production values, seems more like a big budget studio film than low-budget independent cinema. Variety described it as “a triumph of technology in the hands of a visionary with know-how….” As Castro once did, Coyula operates outside the system, financing his films through grants and investors who as he put it, “are doing it for the love of art. “
His second feature-length film, Memories of Underdevelopment is based on Edmundo Desnoes’ novel of the same name. Desnoes’ first novel resulted in the iconic 1968 Cuban film Memories of Underdevelopment, adapted by the revered director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. Both the novel and the films trace a character’s unsuccessful attempt to adjust to two differing economic and cultural spheres, the early days of socialism in Cuba, and life in capitalist America. Well received by Cuban critics, presently, the film has no distributer. Like the character in the two Memories films, Mr. Coyula is caught in the middle, a cinema no man’s land. Undeterred, he is presently developing Corazon Azul, a science fiction film.
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 31 July 2015 — Shy, but with a quick wit and a direct expression, the filmmaker Miguel Coyula (b. Havana 1977) opens the door the room where he works and lets 14ymedio into this creative space in a Vedado apartment. The director of Memories of Underdevelopment is craftsman of the cinema: he films, directs, edits, does the special effects and music, all the while organizing the entire production of the film.
Over coffee, he talks about the obstacles to making films in Cuba and his new project Corazón Azul (Blue Heart), a story set in an alternative reality after an explosion in genetic engineering. In this fictional future, the Cuban government launches the literal creation of its old dream: the New Man.
Luz Escobar: You are immersed in the shooting of your new film, Blue Heart, how far along is the project?
Miguel Coyula: I started shooting the film little by little and, if I can, in chronological order. Every month I am adding one more minute and I can see how it grows. You want to teach the actors, who in the end are working almost for free, and this is a great incentive to see the development of the characters, to see how everything is turning out. Continue reading ““I want more movies and fewer laws” / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar”
This small video — with English subtitles — is a tribute to Cuban architect Mario Coyula by Eusebio Leal, Havana City Historian. The film was made by Miguel Coyula, the well-known Cuban filmmaker, and Mario’s son.
For the Spanish speakers among you, and others who can enjoy the photos, following is an extract of Mario Coyula’s presentation at the last conference he attended.
Miguel Coyula was born in Havana, Cuba in 1977. His work is focused on blending different genres and formats into new ways of storytelling by exploring digital technology. Always working outside the film industry made his first feature Red Cockroaches (2003), for less than $2,000. The film was described by Variety as “a triumph of technology in the hands of a visionary with know-how…” and went on to gather several awards in the international film festival circuit. In 2009 Coyula was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship to develop his next film, Memories of Overdevelopment, a follow-up to the Cuban classic Memorias del Subdesarrollo (1968). The film premiered on Sundance in 2010 and went on to gather 20 awards during its festival tour. The International Film Guide chose it as the best Cuban Film of the year.
Blue Heart is a film about the individual’s inability to escape its environment, as well a discussion about the violent nature of a revolution and its consequences. It is also an exploration of the boundaries of human behavior in a dysfunctional family. This is a foray into a dark future from an uncertain present. Continue reading “Blue Heart — You Can Fund It / Miguel Coyula”