The past six years have been an incredible period of growth and education for AMI, and we are committed to ensuring that we continue to create dialogue and cultural exchange over the next four years, regardless of who is in the White House. As a small organization operating in a politically charged atmosphere, we depend on individual donations to advance our mission and strengthen our voice. AMI is the only organization working nationally in the U.S. to bring the work of young Cuban filmmakers to diverse venues and audiences, from Baton Rouge to Detroit. Some of our accomplishments over the last six years:
- Since 2012, the Closing Distances/Cerrando Distancias documentary film tours have screened eight U.S. documentaries and engaged with Cuban audiences in Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Holguin, Bayamo, Guantanamo, Baracoa, Pinar del Río, the Sierra Maestra Mountains and Havana.
- AMI continues to be the only U.S. organization allowed by Cuba to screen U.S. documentaries in the island’s provinces. We have now spoken with over 1,000 Cuban citizens through our tours with films that confront pressing U.S. social issues, including gun violence, the Iraq War, immigration and racism.
- Our Cuban filmmaker tours have visited over 40 university and college campuses in North America and presented to over 3,500 students and faculty.
- Since 2011, AMI has distributed approximately 750 DVDs of Cuban independent and community media to more than 75 universities and hundreds of individuals in the U.S. and Canada with our distribution partner, Icarus Films in New York.
Support Our Innovative Projects
2017 is poised to be a transformational year for AMI. There are three projects in particular that we are excited to share with you. All of these projects are significant undertakings, but we are confident that with your support, they will make a lasting impact.
In 2014, during our Closing Distances 3 tour, we visited an amazing youth media project, Cámara Chica (Little Camera) in the town of La Conchita, in Pinar del Río province. Many of the youth participating in Cámara Chica come from at-risk homes with parents that have substance abuse problems, experience domestic violence, etc. Cámara Chica has created a vital outlet for these youth to express themselves and participate in a healthy community. Cámara Chica’s work includes producing a slot dedicated to youth sports on provincial television as well as creating short public service announcements that have been screened on Cuban National Television. Since last December, Cámara Chica has extended their scope, now working with youth in five communities throughout the province.
In 2016, AMI supported a documentary workshop and purchased a new camera package for Cámara Chica. AMI has already begun discussions with Cámara Chica about the type of training they want for future workshops. We hope to bring documentary filmmakers from TV Serrana, the most important community media project in Cuba, as well as other documentary filmmakers based in Havana to conduct these workshops in 2017. AMI will also continue to facilitate the video postcard exchange between Cámara Chica and Labelle Aire Elementary School in Baton Rouge.
Muestra Joven/Closing Distances Film Prize
AMI will continue our Closing Distances Film Prize at the Muestra Joven (Young Directors Film Festival) in 2017. We would like to increase the amount of the cash prize to $5000, which would make it the largest cash prize at the festival. AMI knows that supporting these emerging filmmakers is critical and helps to strengthen Cuba’s filmmaking future.
Cuban Documentary Film Fund
AMI is continuing our development of the ground-breaking Cuban Documentary Film Fund (CDFF), a U.S. based fund and mentorship program. Documentary film has lagged behind fiction filmmaking in Cuba in its creativity, scope, and, most importantly, funding. AMI would like to start out with two $20,000 grants issued to two filmmakers that would cover all costs related to two 30 minute documentaries. This amount of money may seem small for U.S. filmmakers, but in the hands of Cuban filmmakers, this money will be able to fund the films from pre-production through post-production
AMI is also partnering with the International Documentary Association (IDA), who will help administer CDFF. Our primary Cuba-based partner will be Marisol Rodriguez, who was the Director of the Muestra Joven for the last 16 years and recently left the directorship, but continues as a consultant for the festival.
We see enormous potential for the CDFF, and envision the creation of an expansive catalogue of short documentaries produced over the next few years that will constitute an invaluable part of Cuba’s historical memory during this pivotal time of transformation and change.
Your Support is Essential!
Fundraising for our crucial work in Cuba remains challenging, as many foundations still feel uneasy about committing their funds in a place that is still subject to the U.S. Embargo. Individual support is critical because it allows AMI to creatively utilize funds that would fall outside of traditional foundation support.
To date, we have already raised $1000, from a generous individual, for our Closing Distances Film Prize for next years Muestra Joven Film Festival – so we now only need $4000 to reach our goal! Even small donations make a huge difference. AMI pays $500 for each week-long documentary workshop for Cámara Chica, so five donations of $100 each will cover one workshop! Most recently, AMI bought Cámara Chica a new camera package for $800, and they need at least three more cameras to support the five communities that now fit into Cámara Chica’s ever-expanding scope.
As we have said in years past, the political barriers and bureaucracy that accompany any U.S.-Cuba initiative are often staggering. This uncertain and tumultuous political era that the U.S. is entering into only heightens the need for AMI’s continued work, as opportunities for creative expression and international collaboration are essential. AMI remains firmly committed to redefining and reimagining the political, social and economic landscapes of Cuba and the U.S.
Please consider supporting our work with a tax-deductible donation to the Americas Media Initiative!
Thank you in advance for your support,