Filmmaker Lester Hamlet Arrives in the United States After Confronting Cuban Arts Institute

Filmmaker Lester Hamlet, 51, was sanctioned by the ICAIC after not handing over the official passport. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 September 2022 — Cuban filmmaker and producer Lester Hamlet, who said two weeks ago that the Cuban Institute of Arts and Cinematography (ICAIC) prohibited him from returning to the Island, announced his arrival in the United States.

In a short video shared on his social networks this Monday, Hamlet appears at an airport walking towards a friend whom he hugs, visibly excited. The filmmaker doesn’t identify the place, but accompanies the images with the song “It’s a Beautiful Day,” by Michael Bublé, and the words: “Friendship and loyalty, above all things!” On his social networks, some of his relatives greet him: “Welcome to the United States.”

On August 24, Hamlet posted on Facebook that the ICAIC had imposed a sanction on him that prevented him from returning to Cuba in the next five years.

Immediately, the ICAIC responded with another post on Facebook, denying the sanction and clarifying that they had called the filmmaker because he had left Cuba for Mexico to attend an event in the state of Quintana Roo, with an official passport, which “is only valid within the dates for which it is requested.”

“In the exchange of WhatsApp messages between Lester and the ICAIC official, the latter asked him if he was already in the country. Lester asked to call him on the phone and, in the telephone communication, informs the official that he had not yet returned to Cuba and that his decision was not to do so,” Tania Delgado, vice president of the institution, said at the time.

In his wake, the Minister of Culture and Sports, Alpidio Alonso, also spoke up and said on Twitter that Lester Hamlet can “enter Cuba whenever he wants. It’s a constitutional right. Anything else they have said since the ICAIC Protocol is a mistake.”

However, the artist insisted that he was prevented from returning, because “they do not want at home those of us who have different ideas” about freedom and homeland. “I accept the gift with honor and embark on restarting my life elsewhere, at the age of 51, full of new dreams and under the impact of knowing exile in the first person,” he wrote on August 24.

Born in Havana in 1971, Lester Hamlet has directed short films of fiction, advertising, musicals and documentaries, and has received several official awards throughout his career, such as the Caracol Award of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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