EFE (via 14ymedio) Havana, 1 November 2023 — The independent Assembly of Cuban Filmmakers (ACC) claimed on Sunday that the problem with the country’s official film institute “is not its president” — a reference to a recent change in leadership at the organization – but with its industrial, financial and artistic underpinnings, which ACC says “have collapsed.”
“What matters is not who the public face of the organization is but what that person represents and projects,” wrote the ACC in response to the recent announcement by the Ministry of Culture that journalist Alexis Triana had been appointed president of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC).
In its statement the ACC described Triana as an official who “has actively and consciously contributed to the direction that we as filmmakers have questioned.” It added, however, that this is about “much more than one person; it is an issue about methodology.”
ACC described the new head of the country’s official film institute as an official who “has played an active and conscious part in a direction that we, as filmmakers, have questioned.”
“ICAIC — an organization at the center of a system controlled for decades by the Ministry of Culture – has, to a large extent, been destroyed by the same [government] leaders who appoint and remove its presidents without realizing that they are not the real problem.”
ACC emphasized, “What matters is not who the public face of the organization is but rather what that person represents and projects.” In its opinion, the issue is not who is president but rather the institute’s “complete subordination to a cultural bureaucracy that paralizes and nullifies it.”
“All the structural components that make up the Cuban cinema system are weakened or broken,” the ACC maintains.
“Without autonomy, with few creators on its payroll, without movie theaters, without resources, without a true international profile,” it argues, “there is little that can be done to protect filmmakers from this systematic exercise of intimidation and control, which is embedded in the very DNA of Cuban cultural and public policy.”
The ACC was formed in June in response to a controversial action by cultural officials. “A solution to the crisis of Cuban cinema cannot come from the same hands that created it,” the group states. “Therefore, whoever happens to preside over the ICAIC is nothing more than a side note.”
It also added, “If this pattern of command and control does not change, if relationships of respect, a desire for understanding and dialogue are not established, our differences as filmmakers and as Cubans will continue to worsen,” it adds.
“If this pattern of command and control does not change, if relationships of respect, a desire for understanding and dialogue are not established, our differences as filmmakers and as Cubans will continue to worsen”
The ACC emphasizes that its existence does not depend on “those who refuse to face our real problems.” It advocates continuing to work towards “the complex, diverse, inclusive, controversial and pluralistic cinema in which we believe.”
The ACC was formed after officials censored the documentary Fito’s Havana by director Juan Pin Vilar and later broadcast an unauthorized version of the film on state television.
The group objected to these actions in an open letter signed by more than 600 film professionals, among them the director Fernando Pérez as well as the actors Jorge Perugorría and Luis Alberto García.
Since then, more than fifty union representatives have met with officials from the Ministry of Culture, ICAIC, the government and the Cuban communist party to discuss these and other issues, including a new law on cinema.
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