AWAKENING / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Speaking: Raudel Collazo, from Patriot Squadron. Sadly… the situation is a little complicated… my voice… my poetry… it is not permitted to hear it… it’s a word like censorship…


To Whom It May Concern:

The reason for this letter is an event that happened on March 6, 2012, Year 53 of the Revolution; an event which from our perception as novice… and not so novice filmmakers, is an unusual event.

At 2:00 pm we met with the director of the Information Center of the Cuban Institute of Motion Pictures Arts and Industries (ICAIC), compañero Robert Smith, to whom we reported that the  documentary Awakening from directors Anthony Bubaire Pérez and Ricardo Figueredo Oliva, is “outside the cultural policy” of the aforementioned institution; therefore the decision had been made “not to exhibit Awakening’ in the Young Filmmakers Exhibition.”

At this news we immediately called on our logical reasoning: Why can not our film be shown after accepted for the Young Filmmakers Exhibition? How far outside of the artistic or political Cuban culture is it? What is the Cuban cultural policy?

As a second step we met with Fernando Perez, an exceptional director in Cuban cinema and president of the Young Filmmaker’s Exhibition. In the conversation with Fernando, he told us that he had decided to resign from his post as President, maintaining that support but taking that unfortunate decision.

Fernando Perez with his team, in selection meetings, approved Awakening; but this was not valid for X culture officials, who told Fernando that Awakening was out of competition; obviously, this information was not shared by compañero Roberto Smith.

What compañero Roberto told us is that, after the film was chosen for the competition,  there was “a review” by the board of ICAIC, where they determined, “among other things” that for “a question of production” it could not be submitted.

We question all of this. Does it still exist? If this ploy is part of the cultural policy of the country, then consider that we are devolving emotionally, or realigning ourselves in underdevelopment. If we are heading down the path of social development, if the economic projects are maturing, and if compared to the world situation we are in a “period of proliferation,” those mentalities and projections are inversely proportional to the policy exposed up to them. Are we really changing. Rectifying the errors? Events of this type, are they errors or solutions? In previous decades, were we wrong, or “were we wrong”?

From our position, the hoop is smaller, which makes us think that our “case” as not been the only one in recent years, so of course it’s to be expected that we are very concerned. We must exercise a strong criticism against events like these. If the institutions and the officials of the institutions continue to act in this way, Cuban art, which is manifested in the streets, which emerges from reality, is going to go under one of these days.

Will Cuban art be elitist? Or will the “art of the people” be elitist? What is the “art of the people”? Every day I see different manifestations of Cuban art displayed in the mass media and most of it does not represent us, it does not show the true reality. Is that valid? What, then, does it represent? Who does it represent? Is this the image? Festivals of culture, films, theater, music happen; but what “artists” are included there?

If the process of selection and “revision” are similar to what happened with my work, what is on display: art or propaganda?

It is peculiar how the are “within the Revolution” has experienced several interesting processes; those meetings at the National Library or “The Words to the Intellectuals”; the First Congress on Education and Culture, the Padilla case, the “Five Grey Years” or Pavonato; and many others; in most or in every one of them huge errors were committed, irreparable errors for art and culture in general, errors that perhaps affect the actions of many artists, errors to which today not a word is addressed because they are surpassed, errors that are now exposed as mechanisms for disposal.

We see, if these processes are taking as guiding examples for the direction of Cuban art today, we would like to emphasize, then, that we are marching in a different direction contrary to progress, and that every day will further strengthen the executors who don’t hesitate to censor, not as a function of a sovereign culture, but as a function of growing as an Inquisitor power; becoming in this way, as in former years, the Cuban culture in a State beset by irrational arrogance, insensitive and unreasonable.

To limit this disagreeable immediate future we wish that ICAIC would offer us an explanation for the event discussed here, or perhaps an apology, a reappraisal; naturally we would not want obsolete justifications; there are many people affected by this and there has been so much sacrifice in every image; therefore, I make a call on the good judgment of some people, in whom we still have hope.

Thank you very much.


Cooperative Productions

March 25 2012