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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Anime Animates Coyula / Regina Coyula

The poet Rafael Alcides. (Regina Coyula / lamalaletra.com)

Jorge Enrique Lage interview with Miguel Coyula (fragments) 2

Miguel Coyula: [… the cinema where I first encountered anime.] [… like the video games of the late eighties and early nineties, the anime of that time had no big budgets for a fluid animation at twenty-four frames per second, Disney-style. Then they went to a visual design and assembly and sound very often shocking.] [… in the subconscious, that left a mark on the film I make.]

For me it is very important to work the space and design the storyboard to the last detail, so that no image is repeated during the editing of a scene. That is something that comes from anime, and the comic book in general. Each panel expresses an idea, just as in literature each sentence expresses something different.

As for video games, the animation was even more limited: 2D, but that same limitation …] [… it made me shape an aesthetic where the image is as loaded as possible with small elements that add density to the setting.

[… the anime stories often left me with a bitter taste. Yaltus, known as Baldios outside Cuba, was a film that marked me a lot. Its apocalyptic and depressing ending, where the earth is completely contaminated with radioactivity, left me in a state of discomfort that I have pursued in my films.

[… one of the most striking films for me, for the stylistic collage it represents, was Belladonna of Sadness, 1973. For some reason it’s the 70’s that keeps calling me over and over again as a source of inspiration.

Site Manager’s note: Once all the fragments of this interview are translated (by different volunteers) we will unite them in order, in a single post.

Counterrevolutionary or Communist / Regina Coyula

Sadly, the above video is not subtitled, but whether or not you understand the words, you can observe Miguel Coyula and Rafael Alcides speaking.

Jorge Enrique Lage interview with Miguel Coyula (fragments) 3

Miguel Coyula: … And it’s [Rafael] Alcides for several reasons. First, because in my opinion he is the best Cuban poet alive. Pata de paloAgradecido como un perro and Nadie are indispensable books; Especially Nadie [No one], written and censored in 1970, and that doesn’t see the light until 1993, when I read it for the first time and it hits me.

Alcides is often described as a sensualist, but his range is very wide. Take, for example, his poem “El Extraño“, which appears in the film: it is very brief, stripped of artifice, combines the existential and the political in a universal way, with an admirable economy of means.

But even if Alcides had not been able to write anything …] [… his own person is poetry; he has the gift of speech, a diaphanous word, he speaks of beauty and poetry without intellectual poses, despises politicians and yet can speak of them with poetry, to the point that the passion of his gestures makes him a force which seems more typical of the field of fiction than of the documentary. continue reading

[… probably Alcides is one of the few Cuban intellectuals of his generation (in fact, the only one I know of) who, residing on the island, has no qualms or filters when it comes to making public what he thinks. He has paid the price for his honesty with ostracism. Also contradictions and guilt coexist in his person. He gave himself up to a dream, sacrificed himself for it and accepted failure. I’ve always been interested in misfits. Alcides contained all the elements that interest me in the construction of a character. Perhaps his honesty and his nonchalance mean that the film can not find a place anywhere: neither in the diaspora nor in the intellectuals of his generation who remained on the island.

The fact that the film is indistinctly labeled “counterrevolutionary” and “communist” is something I am very pleased about.

The first thing we recorded was a four-hour interview, from which came a short web mini-series, seven chapters, titled “Rafael Alcides.” (Many people believe they have seen Nadie but what they have seen is the miniseries on YouTube that only totals twenty-nine minutes).

At first there was no theme at all, it was about Alcides talking freely, but he himself was outlining the theme of the Revolution and then we began to record more specific questions.

Site Manager’s note: Once all the fragments of this interview are translated (by different volunteers) we will unite them in order, in a single post.

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.”

‘Nobody’ By Miguel Coyula Wins Best Documentary Prize in Dominican Republic / 14ymedio

Miguel Coyula (tallest in photo) and Rafael Alcides (3rd from right) collect the prize for the documentary ‘Nadie’ at the Dominican Global Film Festival. (Facebook FCGD)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 January 2017 — The documentary Nobody, by Cuban director Miguel Coyula, has won the award for Best Documentary in the Tenth edition of the Dominican Global Film Festival (FCGD). The poet Rafael Alcides stars in the documentary and develops “an imaginary conversation with Fidel Castro” culminating in the death of the former president last November.

With just over an hour and a minimalist presentation, the material picks up some moments of a series of short films that Coyula made from an interview of more than two hours that he filmed with the poet. continue reading

The movie also includes images of the funeral tribute to Castro held in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana. The crowds, the national mourning and the atmosphere that was breathed in those days in the Island give a current closure to the interview, where the poet mixes anecdotes, opinions and experiences.

Coyula made his debut with the feature film “Red Cockroaches” and among his most prominent films is “Memories of Overdevelopment”, which was chosen in 2010 by the International Film Guide as “the best Cuban film” of that year

This piece competed in Documentary Film and was screened last Sunday at the Blue Mall Palace of Cinema in Santo Domingo, with the presence of Coyula and Alcides. The event had Italy as a guest country and was dedicated to promoting the documentary genre in the Dominican Republic.

Miguel Coyula and Rafael Alcides conducted a workshop titled Independent Film and Poetry: A Cuban Experience, where they shared views with the Dominican audience. During the conference they read the writer’s poems, among them the classic Grateful as a Dog (1983).

Coyula debuted in feature films with Red Cockroaches and among his most important films is Memories of Overdevelopment, which was chosen in 2010 by the International Film Guide as “the best Cuban film” of that year. Currently he is shooting his third feature, Blue Heart. The filmmaker retains a particular style of independent production and craftsmanship, and specializes in clean plans and simple visual effects.

After several years residing in the US, Miguel Coyula returned to Havana, where he currently lives.

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

 

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 6: Capitalism in Cuba – Before and After / Miguel Coyula

This video is the 6th in a series of vignettes extracted from a four-hour interview of Rafael Alcides conducted by the filmmaker Miguel Coyula. Below are links to the previous Chapters.

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 1: The Beautiful Things / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 2: Artists and Politicians / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 3: About Beauty / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 4: Once Upon a Time in Biran / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 5: The People / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 5: The People / Miguel Coyula

This video is the 5th in a series of vignettes extracted from a four-hour interview of Rafael Alcides conducted by the filmmaker Miguel Coyula. Below are links to the other Chapters.

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 1: The Beautiful Things / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 2: Artists and Politicians / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 3: About Beauty / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 4: Once Upon a Time in Biran / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 6: Capitalism in Cuba – Before and After / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 4: Once Upon a Time in Biran / Miguel Coyula

This video is the 4th in a series of vignettes extracted from a four-hour interview of Rafael Alcides conducted by the filmmaker Miguel Coyula. Below are links to the other Chapters.

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 1: The Beautiful Things / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 2: Artists and Politicians / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 3: About Beauty / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 5: The People / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 6: Capitalism in Cuba – Before and After / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 3: About Beauty / Miguel Coyula

A series of videos with Rafael Alcides, by the filmmaker Miguel Coyula, with Lynn Cruz and thanks to Leonardo ds Vinci, Tomaso Albinoni, Alberto Korda

The other videos:

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 1: The Beautiful Things / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 2: Artists and Politicians / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 4: Once Upon a Time in Biran / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 5: The People / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 6: Capitalism in Cuba – Before and After / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 2: Artists and Politicians / Miguel Coyula

A series of videos with Rafael Alcides, by the filmmaker Miguel Coyula. Music by Ivan Lajardi and thanks to Lynn Cruz and Marta Aquino.

The other videos:

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 1: The Beautiful Things / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 3: About Beauty / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 4: Once Upon a Time in Biran / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 5: The People / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 6: Capitalism in Cuba – Before and After / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 1: The Beautiful Things / Miguel Coyula

A series of videos with Rafael Alcides, by the filmmaker Miguel Coyula (with Lynn Cruz and thanks to Marta Aquino)

Links to the other videos:

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 2: Artists and Politicians / Miguel Coyula

‘Rafael Alcides’ Chapter 3: Beautiful Things / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 4: Once Upon a Time in Biran / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 5: The People / Miguel Coyula

Rafael Alcides, Chapter 6: Capitalism in Cuba – Before and After / Miguel Coyula

Cuban Filmmaker Miguel Coyula / Judith Zinis

Miguel Coyula
Miguel Coyula

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.

Read the rest of the interview here.