Cuban Filmmakers Accuse Officials of Cutting Off Internet During Their Meeting

Filmmakers accuse officials of trying to hinder their efforts to debate, question and hold meetings. (M.A. Rodriguez Yong/ Facebook)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, 22 September 2023 — The independent Assembly of Cuban Filmmakers (ACC) accused government officials on Thursday of cutting off internet access during its last meeting in which several members were participating remotely. In a statement posted on social media, the ACC said there were problems with the internet connection during the meeting, which took place at a Havana movie theater. Communication with participants from other provinces and countries was interrupted for several minutes.

“They suddenly blocked the internet connection for all participants in the theater, leaving those who had already connected from the provinces and other countries blind and deaf. Neither video nor sound,” said the ACC, which spoke of “a new episode of control and authoritarianism.”

It noted that connectivity problems recurred every few minutes throughout the Wednesday morning meeting. “Time and time again, meetings by a group of filmmakers are viewed with suspicion and must be silenced or, if possible, canceled,” the ACC stressed.

“There is an obsession on the part of the authorities with documentation. Only they are allowed to record, edit and reuse. They are bothered by cameras, testimonies, recordings, communication media and social networks. This is something we frequently observe,” the ACC stated.

Previous meetings between the ACC and government officials have been described as tense and officials did not allow them to be recorded

They rejected these “procedures” because they alleged that, since they began meeting a few weeks ago, they have always tried to “maintain a respectful and participatory dialogue with all those who have requested it,” more specifically, government agencies.

The government’s previous meetings with the ACC  have been described as tense and officials did not allow them to be recorded. However, the filmmaker Miguel Coyula released fragments of audio and video footage in which officials can be heard demanding that he shut off his camera during one session.

The filmmakers also complained that a small group of film students who wanted to attend the meeting were warned by phone that they should ’think twice before getting involved.”

The ACC is an independent organization formed in June in response to a broadcast on Cuban state television of an unauthorized version of Juan Pin Vilar’s documentary La Habana de Fito, which had been censored without the director’s approval.

ACC expressed its “disagreement” with the actions Cuba’s cultural officials in an open letter signed by more than 600 film industry professionals including director Fernando Pérez and actor Jorge Perugorría. One of their recurring demands has been that the island’s cultural institutions recognize the work of Cuban emigré filmmakers and end all forms of censorship on artistic expression.


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