Struggling to Film in America’s Chokehold: Cuban Moviemakers Feeling Burden of U.S. Embargo By VICTORIA BURNETT APRIL 4, 2014
MEXICO CITY — In Hollywood terms, it was small change. But for Miguel Coyula, a Cuban filmmaker accustomed to working on a tiny budget, the $5,200 he raised on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.com last year would have bought some lighting equipment, a Steadicam and a tripod, all crucial for his science-fiction feature, “Blue Heart.” However, Indiegogo suspended the campaign in August and froze the money after determining that transferring funds to Cuba or a Cuban resident would violate the United States’ economic embargo. READ MORE
Cuban Filmmaker, Miguel Coyula
Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias 3 Brings POV Executive Producer Simon Kilmurry to Cuba
The Americas Media Initiative organizes groundbreaking U.S. documentary film tour; PBS’s award-winning documentary series POV to tour Cuba for the first time, April 5 - 14, 2014
For the third year in a row, a U.S. documentary program will tour Cuba. Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias 3, which takes place April 5-14, 2014, will bring Simon Kilmurry, Executive Producer of PBS’s award-winning POV (Point of View) television series, to Cuba. He will do a presentation about several of the Latino films that have aired on POV and screen the new POV film GETTING BACK TO ABNORMAL. Alexandra Halkin, Director of the Americas Media Initiative (AMI). The Cuban organizational counterpart providing the logistical support is the Young Directors Film Festival (Muestra Joven), based in Havana. The tour will begin with a presentation by Mr. Kilmurry at the Young Directors Festival and then Ms. Halkin and Mr. Kilmurry will travel to the Isle of Youth and Pinar del Rio, where they will screen GETTING BACK TO ABNORMAL and engage in Q&A sessions with Cuban audiences. For more information
Cuban Filmmaker Marcelo Martín to Tour US, Fall 2014
This is AMI'S fifth US Cuban filmmaker tour, these tours have traveled to 33 college campuses and presented to over 2000 college students and faculty. In the fall of 2013, AMI brought filmmaker Marilyn Solaya, with her film In the Wrong Body, on a tour of nine universities. AMI is currently looking for sponsors of our Fall 2014 Tour with Marcelo Martín. The tour dates range for two weeks from the beginning of November and are schedule on a first come, first serve basis. The tour will be screening Mr. Martín's most recent documentary, ELENA.
The new Cuban documentary, ELENA follows several residents in the Elena building located in Central Havana over a three-year period and represents one of the first contemporary investigative documentaries made in Cuba about a serious problem that is affecting many Cubans. ELENA was filmed with a small mini-dv camera by Director, Marcelo Martín. Mr. Martín is part of the new generation of documentary filmmakers living in Cuba who are documenting the many serious issues facing Cuban society with the intent to provoke discussion within Cuba.
For further information go to our Current Filmmaker Tour page.
AMI Organizes US University Tour for Cuban Filmmaker Marilyn Solaya
Ms. Solaya has had a unique trajectory in Cuban cinema. Starting out as a film actress in films such as Tomás Gutiérrez Alea y Juan Carlos Tabío’s renowned, Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y Chocolate). She then returned to film school to study Directing. Ms. Solaya will be presenting her award winning documentary feature, In the Wrong Body (En el cuerpo equivocado) at US universities, film festivals, and community centers throughout October, 2013.
In the Wrong Body tells the story of Mavi Susel, who underwent the first gender reassignment operation in Cuba in 1988. The film explores such timely issues as the meaning of femininity in the macho and patriarchal society in Cuba where many stereotypes and prejudices still exist. Mariela Castro, Director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) was a primary consultant on the film. The film was produced as part of the Latin American DocTV initiative.
Ms. Solaya’s documentary work is based on thorough investigation of the subject matter and the people with whom she is collaborating. Ms. Solaya has been doing public presentations with her films both inside and outside of Cuba and can speak to various issues regarding the role of gender in Cuban society both from a historical and feminist perspective, what it means to be a feminist filmmaker in contemporary Cuba, and her vision of the future for women filmmakers in Cuba.
Oct. 3 - 4 University of Oregon, Eugene
Oct. 4 Reception 6 - 8pm at the Grand Cafe, Portland, OR
Oct. 5 Screening 6 - 8pm at Sisters of the Road Cafe, Portland, OR
Oct. 7 University of Washington, Seattle
Oct. 8 Washington State University, Pullman
Oct. 9 University of Idaho, Moscow
October 11 Unitarian Church, Spokane, WA (Sponsored by the LGBT Community Center/Pride Foundation)
Oct. 16 - 17 Allegheny College, PA
October 18 University of Vermont, Burlington
October 19 ArtsRiot, Burlington, VT
October 23 Middlebury College, VT
October 24-25 Dartmouth College, NH
Among other titles, the collection includes Ernesto Pérez Zambrano’s Major Leagues? (¿Grandes Ligas?), an exploration of the Cuban National women’s baseball team, Gustavo Pérez’s They Would All Be Queens (Todas iban ser reinas), about Soviet women who emigrated to Cuba for marriage prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and Katrin Hansing’s Freddy Ilanga: Che’s Swahili Translator (Freddy Ilanga: El Traductor del Che), a profile of an African man whose life was transformed by a chance encounter with one of the great icons of the 20th century.
The deal was signed by Jonathan Miller, President of Icarus Films, and Alexandra Halkin, Director of the Americas Media Initiative, which produces, screens, and distributes independent and community-produced media from the Americas.
Beginning in September, Icarus Films will handle all North American distribution responsibilities for the collection. There will be two new releases added to the collection this year.
For more information on the Americas Media Initiative, visit http://www.americasmediainitiative.org
Film Screening: July 17th. Screening of Cuban Film "Major Leagues?" at 8th Floor Gallery, NYC, Introduced by AMI Director, Alexandra Halkin
Be introduced to the members of the
Closing Distances 2 Tour Cuban TV Coverage. Recorded in Guantanamo.
May 24, 2013
Below is a Cuban Television news segment on our Closing Distances 2 Tour in Eastern Cuba featuring documentary filmmaker Minda Martin, and AMI Director Alexandra Halkin:
AMI organizes Closing Distances 2, US Filmmaker Minda Martin to tour Eastern Cuba
The Americas Media Initiative organizes ground breaking U.S. documentary film tour in Eastern Cuba, May 17 – 24, 2013
Burlington, VT – For the second time in less then one year, a U.S. documentary shorts program will tour Cuba. Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias 2 will feature the films of U.S. filmmaker, Minda Martin. The tour is organized by Alexandra Halkin, Director of the Americas Media Initiative, a Burlington, VT based non-profit that works with Cuban filmmakers. The Cuban organizational counterpart providing the logistical support is the Young Directors Film Festival (Muestra Joven) based in Havana. Ms. Halkin and Ms. Martin will screen Martin’s films and engage in Q&A sessions with Cuban audiences in the towns of Bayamo, San Pablo de Yao based in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, Guantanamo, and Baracoa.
Minda Martin is an award winning experimental documentary and narrative filmmaker. Her films, including The Long Distance Operator (2012), Free Land (2009), Monsoon St., ¹77 (2006), and a.k.a. Kathe (2000) have screened at international and competitive venues including the Locarno International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Vienna International Film Festival, Buenos Aires International Film Festival, among others.
Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias 2 will present two of Ms. Martin’s films, FREE LAND (2009) and Mother’s Heritage (1995). As a child, filmmaker Minda Martin's life was one of poverty, constant relocation and even homelessness. FREE LAND incorporates found footage, historical documents and personal interviews as she traces her family's history through the forced Cherokee relocation in the 1800s. What emerges is a challenging, heartbreaking and visually arresting documentary that draws unsettling parallels between land, history, Cherokee culture and American identity. Martin creates a unique cinematic landscape that conveys the trauma of displacement and the reality of poverty. Mother’s Heritage tells the story of Ms. Martin’s mother’s untimely death: she was accidentally shot by one of her brothers. In her absence, her story is told through recollections of family members who discuss the many challenges she faced during her life.
(click here to read the full story)
Photo by Raúl Cañibano. Courtesy of Alejandro Ramírez Anderson.
Para más información sobre estos documentales y muchos más que se presentan en Documentary Fortnight, visiten: www.moma.org
DOCUMENTARY FORTNIGHT 2013:
MoMA's International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media
NEW CUBAN SHORTS -
Co-organized with the Americas Media Initiative
Friday, February 15, and Saturday, February 16
Director Ernesto Pérez Zambrano's 2008 documentary Major Leagues? (¿Grandes Ligas?) looks at members of the Cuban National women’s baseball team who discuss their passion for their sport and the trials and tribulations of participating in Cuba’s “national past-time” in a society that is filled with machismo, prejudice and daily hardships. The older generation of women who participated in the early days of the League, in the 1940’s, talk about the sexism they dealt with and through the generations women still face the same attitudes from men about their participation in the sport.
For purchase information, click here.
“Major Leagues?”, the dissertation project of Pérez Zambrano, a student at Cuba’s Higher Institute of Arts (ISA), explores the theme of transgression of gender norms using the testimonies of the players and coaches of the Havana women’s baseball team.
The young filmmaker practically lived with the athletes for a year until he became the bat boy and informal cheerleader of the team, which was created in response to a call issued in 2003 by the non governmental Cuban Women’s Federation (FMC) to form women’s baseball teams.
However, one of the young players interviewed in the documentary complained about the lack of support and, particularly, the lack of opportunities to play other teams, as well as the scarce coverage they have received by the media. She said sometimes the players even have to “escape” from work or school to attend the training sessions".
...Patricia Grogg. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 7, 2008
Published: January 4, 2013
Recent New York Times article about Cuban Filmmaking that mentions AMI and a number of our filmmakers.
In the Wrong Body tells the story of Mavi Susel, who underwent the first gender reassignment operation in Cuba in 1988. In the Wrong Body explores such timely issues as the meaning of femininity in the macho and patriarchal society in Cuba where many stereotypes and prejudices still exist. Mariela Castro, Director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) was a primary consultant on the film. The film was produced as part of the Latin American DocTV initiative. For more information go to our Cuban Filmmaker Current US Tour page.
October 15 - 28th 2012
Karel Ducasse, Cuban documentary filmmaker and animator will be presenting his films at the Vermont International Film Festival and the University of Vermont between October 22 and October 28th. This is the first time Mr. Ducasse will visit the U.S. Organized by Burlington-based Americas Media Initiative—Cuba Media Project (AMI-CMP), whose mission is to present Cuban filmmakers in the U.S., and U.S. films and filmmakers in Cuba and through this cultural exchange, increase understanding and foster dialogue between U.S. and Cuban citizens.
Mr. Ducasse will be presenting his documentary, Zone of Silence, about artistic censorship, some of his newer short documentaries and animations, and other Cuban independent productions at the Vermont International Film Festival, October 25th at 4pm at Main Street Landing (Lake St. on the Waterfront) and October 28th at 1pm at the North End Studios (294 N. Winooski Ave).
Mr. Ducasse currently works in the Animation Department for Cuban National Television where he has directed public service announcements, educational programming, live presentations and children’s programming. Mr. Ducasse is currently working on an animation series of mythological legends for children, Panchitos Stories. He wrote and directed the documentaries, Zone of Silence and Different, Up to a Certain Point, which is part of a feature documentary celebrating the 50-year anniversary of ICAIC (Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts and Industry). Mr. Ducasse has received 11 awards and honorable mentions in various national and international film festivals.
AMI Collaborates with the Flaherty Seminar, June 2012
Last Spring AMI assisted the Flaherty Documentary Seminar in bring three Cuban Filmmakers from Cuba to attend the Seminar. The Cuban filmmakers were: Gloria Rolando, Gustavo Pérez and Gilliam de la Torre. This was the first time that the Seminar had filmmakers living in Cuba attend the Seminar. AMI assisted Flaherty in procuring the funding, US visas and travel for the filmmakers. AMI Director, Alexandra Halkin also received a LEF Fellowship to attend the Seminar. The Ford and Reynolds Foundations supported the expenses for the Cuban filmmakers to attend the Seminar.