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.
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 palo, Agradecido 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.
14ymedio, 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
“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.
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.”
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
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.
Rafael Alcides, Havana, 2 April 2016 — The government that has ruled us since 1959 insists that the American Naval Base in Cuba’s Guantanamo Province is illegal. Mistake. It is immoral, but not illegal. At a time when the United States did not hide its eye patch and peg leg it took advantage, before leaving the island, of four years of military occupation to get the impoverished Cuban government of the time to cede the 117 square kilometers where the base is located. Arrogant, it demanded a contract “in perpetuity.”
Resorting to sophistry, the authorities of the recently inaugurated Cuban government, after four hundred years of Spanish colonialism and a war lasting thirty years, got them to change the humiliating term “in perpetuity” for another that today would be comical if it didn’t move us to pity the precarious situation of those exhausted liberators. continue reading
Listen for yourself: In the document signed by both governments the territory that houses the Naval Base in held not “in perpetuity,” but for as long as the United States “needs it.”
Cuba, of course, has the duty to reclaim this territory. It is part of the Island. It belongs to it. But they should do so in polite terms, neighbor to neighbor, taking advantage of yesterday’s pirate, who today is, or tries to seem, sustained by democracy, the archetype of man dreamed of by God.
The Cuban government’s acting like a “tough guy,” is ignoring that while governments come and go, the conventions of one state with another state are the commitments of the nation. This is serious.
It would authorize Spain, for one example, to set aside the Treaty of Paris signed on Janaury 1, 1898 any time it wants, and to show up at mouth of El Morro with troops and the king, in person, to resume its former sovereign rights over “the Always Faithful island of Cuba.”
14ymedio, Havana, 2 March 2016 — The US Embassy in Havana denied the poet Rafael Alcides a visa to travel to Miami, this morning, believing he might be intending to emigrate, as reported by his wife, the blogger Regina Coyula. Alcides had been invited by the Vista Foundation, which organized a tribute to him and to the writer Manual Diaz Martinez, living in Spain; both writers were awarded the Gaston Baquero National Independent Literature Prize this last December.
In a very brief interview, the embassy official who met with Alcides classified him as a possible emigrant because he has a son in the United States and, in consequence, denied the visa. continue reading
“Come back in a year,” the official said at the close of the meeting. The poet has declined to comment on his reaction to what occurred.
Now 82, Alcides was born in Bayamo in 1933 and began his literary career at Cyclone magazine, and is considered one of the greatest Cuban poets of the so-called “50’s Generation.” He has published poetry collections such as Mountain Hymn (1961); Gypsy (1962) and his well-known Wooden Leg (1967). In 1983 his poetry collection Thanked Like a Dog was released, but by that time the author already suffered from the institutional silence that had marked decades of his work, due to his openly critical positions with regards to the Cuban government.
In 1993, he withdrew from all editorial collaboration on the island and subsequently resigned from the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) in an open letter. In 2011, he won the Café Breton & Bodegas Olarra of Spanish Prose Prize.
At a meeting of members of the Club of Independent Cuba Writers (CEIC), held in Havana in late January this year, the group’s coordinator, Victor Manuel Dominguez stressed that in “the official exclusion and manipulation of his work” it is recognized that “the censors, the ideological tattletales, and the political commissars who have tried to silence Rafael Alcides… have failed.”
Regina Coyula, 3 March 2016 — A consular official, in a flying interview lasting barely five minutes, told my husband he was not eligible to travel to the United States with a non-immigrant visa. According to the document he was given, my husband was not able to demonstrate that his proposed visit was consistent with the visa he requested.
What did this interview consist of? The official asked the reason for the trip, and the reason for the trip is a cultural meeting to deliver a tribute, in which my husband is the person to be honored. The second and last question was regarding whether he had family in the United States, to which he responded honestly that he has a son that he lost contact with a decade ago
The consular authorities of this (and any other country) have the right to approve or not approve the entry of foreigners to their territory. But haste should not make this interview a mechanical process. This awkward gentleman who face-to-face with the inquisitive functionary wasn’t able to remember the name of the institution intending to honor him, is one of the most important living poets of Cuban culture. A brief glance at Google could have informed the official about the gentleman in front of him, and relieved him of the idea that this traveler would be one more old man wanting to shelter under the Cuban Adjustment Act and Social Security benefits.
The decision — which cannot be appealed to anyone — recommends that he wait at least a year to return “if and when personal circumstances have significiantly changed.” It is lamentable, because Rafael Alcides will continue to live and write from his inxile in Havana in the same circumstances of today if he survives this year of being ignored awarded to him by the consular official.
Cubanet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 3 August 2015 – For some, it began on 17 December of last year, when – as surprisingly as a goal scored at the last minute deciding a world championship – the leaders Barack Obama and Raúl Castro publicly announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, following 50-some-odd years of politicians on both shores hurling invective at each other. But that was still just an announcement, the prologue. The materialization of the historic event – the first part of which was accomplished on 20 July when the Cuban government inaugurated its embassy in Washington – will take place when, this coming 14 August, John Kerry will raise the US flag at the American embassy’s old-time home facing Havana’s Malecón.
It is a moment awaited with curiosity by Cubans in general – and, very particularly, by that part of the dissidence that supports the reconciliation of the two governments. What will come later? The conjectures are flying and there is not one that can be taken seriously. But one thing that is known, that is certain, everywhere, is that tomorrow has begun, and yesterday has started to become a distant memory. It’s what can be heard in the lines to buy eggs, at the neighborhood domino tables, at bus stops, in factories, in offices, at funeral wakes, and at any other place where two or more Cubans are together, talking. continue reading
The government doesn’t see it this way, and it continues to make plans with the optimism of someone who is sure of its people’s unconditional approval. It insists on governing under the rallying cry of “Socialism or Death” for all time.
Nor does a certain segment of the dissidence see it this way. This is the part that has seen Obama give everything in return for nothing; that fears that the measures to soften the economic embargo, which have already begun to be seen, will regenerate a regime which (notwithstanding what should, by natural law, have already occurred in Venezuela, but has not) would otherwise be a memory today.
The other segment, the optimistic one, already sees itself raising a glass on that great day marking the start of the future, as they come and go amongst government authorities who, in Panama, fearing contamination, refused to stay under the same roof and breathe the same air as their opponents. Because of course, those people (the ones in Panama, at least) could not but be there that day, when their foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, sat down with his counterpart, John Kerry.
It is not to be believed that the US Embassy will also then allow itself to be restricted by the condition that for several years now has been governing festivities sponsored by accredited diplomats in Cuba. It is an unusual constraint that prevents ambassadors from simultaneously receiving on their premises both government dignitaries and dissidents. Or to put it another way, it obliges them to have the government people enter through the front door, and the dissidents through the back.
The US would never accept such a thing. In that case, the optimistic dissidence maintains, the other embassies would find themselves dispensed from continuing to carry such an onerous burden. Thus, another significant breach between the two sides of the opposition.
Of course, “Who Knows Who” does not live far from there. But in any case – as an estimable dissident told me who practically applauded the skin off his hands on December 17 and who today avidly awaits August 14 – “that embassy” is over there, too, to provide its occupants the pleasure of looking over their celebratory glasses towards those captious attendees of the Panama summit, as if to say, “Never say never.”
“That embassy over there,” he continued, will be an important and none-too-silent witness of what is happening with human rights in Cuba. For the moment, the government will continue to arrest and abuse, but it will have to do so with much caution, given that it is being observed in situ; and given that neither the tourist, nor the investor, nor any of the characters who will play a role in the future that has just started, would much like the spectacle of police massacring the citizenry who, in exercising a universal right such as that of dissent, has gone out on the street to demonstrate. Besides, what’s coming now in the bilateral relations is “I’ll give this much if you give that much.” And Time, for Its part, continues to march over the administration of little old men who have run out of time.
All this would seem to confirm what the journalist Regina Coyula was saying in a tweet launched into the ether at 12 midnight on July 20 that, while seeming to have given all in exchange for nothing, the astute Obama had reopened the US embassy in Havana in a “subtle stratagem that one day will be dubbed a novel version of the Trojan Horse.”