Watching, Rooting, and Supporting this thing called "The New Cuba" (Cuba Specialist | Production | Sensei)

Posts from the ‘Art’ category

bd-habana

Very excited for this new Biennial to hit Havana. With a tagline of Diseño y Prosperidad (Design & Prosperity) the first Design Biennial, called 1ra Bienal de Diseño La Habana — otherwise known as BDHabana 2016—will take place May 14–20, 2016. Open to design students and professionals worldwide, the Biennial’s first edition will feature exhibitions, symposia, and events in Havana, and in Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba.

Coordinated by Roberto Miguel Torres, the Biennial will explore issues of design and industry, creative innovation, and workshops to promote design as an element of socioeconomic development. To celebrate the exchange and promotion in relation to the presence of design in our lives towards a new reality.

Roberto Miguel Torres, who is the general secretary of the event´s Organizing Committee and director of Image and Promotion of the National Office of Design (ONDI), states: “We are referring to an event that will be first carried out on the island and its slogan acquire a higher importance given we are realizing about the presence of the design in our lives, so the prosperity cannot become an abstract concept; on the contrary, it is a necessity.” He added. “How could we have a prosperous nation? It would be by having a vision on the related development and innovation which are concepts that are certainly linked to the design and that is to say the way your office is designed, your house or the computer you are using, for instance, So we just cannot produce what is needed, we need to produce what is competitive, and it is right there where designer´s work starts.” (as reported in Cuban Art News)

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(Film Still: Esteban Insausti’s “Long Distance,” starring Zulema Clares)

This is an an old blog post I never got to publish, and it is mostly ripped off from The New York Times, but given the new American policy shift, I feel it’s an important article to take out of drafts and publish into the ether. The struggle for Cuban filmmakers may take a turn if Obama opens American financial channels (namely crowd-sourcing sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter) to help fund Cuban resident filmmakers.

United States government dedicates millions of dollars each year to programs intended to promote civil society and democracy, yet cuban Filmmakers who are telling everyday life stories through their films, are cut off from this flow of American money. Currently, there is no way for a Cuban filmmaker to access American capital to tell these stories.

Case in point: Cuban filmmaker Miguel Coyula raised $5,200 on Indiegogo for his independent film but the funds were frozen.

“It’s absurd that we are in the 21st century, and we have no legal framework for independent producers,” said the director Esteban Insausti, whose 2010 feature, “Long Distance,” explores emigration and the trauma of separation. Cuban government does its part in hampering filmmakers, keeping politically provocative movies out of theaters, not recognizing private production companies, and making it hard for filmmakers to obtain permits for, say, filming on the street.

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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 12.56.29 AM

“It was like someone pulling the rug from under your feet,” said Mr. Coyula, who spoke in English by phone from Havana. “That was when I realized I was really on my own, that making a movie in Cuba is hard because both the Cuban government makes it difficult, and the American government makes it difficult.”

Another barrier for Cuban filmmakers are Film grants. Disqualified from grants from American institutions, crowd funding was the next logical option get films made. “Blue Heart,” which will use newsreels, animé and fiction to tell the story of a failed experiment to create a perfect revolutionary through genetic engineering, will cost about $30,000 to make, he said.

Here is the first 5 minutes of the film:

Another person who attempted to aid filmmakers, Ubaldo Huerta, a Cuban technology expert who lives in Barcelona, shut down Yagruma in February 2013 (a crowdfunding platform specifically for Cuban projects). He shut it down a little more than a year after he started it. Paypal issues were involved.

It is these same restrictions that also prevent Americans from investing in Cuban movies and prohibit Americans from making most films on the island.

Read the rest of the article at The New York Times / Cuban Filmmakers

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(Film Still: “Conducta,” starring Armando Valdés Freire, center, and directed by Ernesto Daranas) Courtesy of HAVANA FILM FESTIVAL NEW YORK

NOTE: Filmmaker Miguel Coyula says if you’d like to help him make his film, email him directly to: migcoyula@hotmail.com

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During broadcast hours, all TVs in Cuba are on, no matter if they are being watch or just serving as background noise. Simone Lueck is a Los Angeles based photographer originally from St. Paul, Minnesota who visited Cuba and captured TV culture, for better or worse. The photo essay is a hardcover 80 page book.

The actual television sets are outdated relics imported from America or Russia close to twenty years ago. Convulsing static pictures in off-color hues, the sets are jury-rigged with computer parts and other discarded technological talismans; they are adorned like religious altars.

In her words:

It happened by chance. In 2000, I tagged along with a good friend on a two-week trip to Cuba. I took my 35mm camera and a bunch of film. The first thing I noticed in Havana was that the city was dark at night. There were no streetlights, porch lights or living-room lamps. It was pitch black except for the faint colorful glow spilling out of open doors everywhere, and it came from the TVs. The light captivated me. For the next two weeks I wandered around, slipping in and out of strangers’ living rooms. Each time I came across an open door and a TV set, I asked if I could take a picture of it. The answer was always yes. Nobody seemed to think it was an odd request and it was usually accompanied by a Cuban coffee or rum.

To purchase the book, visit Clicgallery.com

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Photographer Paul Chan snapped this photo on the Malecon, in Havana. It was during the Spring quarter of his second year at UC Davis that he studied abroad in Cuba for two and a half months. This would be the first year in which Fidel Castro ceded his presidency to his brother, Raul.

You can see more of Paul’s work at PH-CHAN.com

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Poster reads:”Every Revolution begins with the power of an idea, but ends when the only idea left is power”

This Poster was created by Camilo Rojas for a project for Common Underground. Foreign designers were asked to choose a word in which their country was paired with and design a poster of their views of that word towards the US.

Designer Camilo Rojas of Spain explains his inspiration: “As a designer I was asked to choose a country (Cuba) and it’s corresponding word (Revolution) and design a poster that depicted their opinion of the two (the word and the country chosen).The basis of the project is to show insight as to how others perceive us and how we perceive others, hopefully this will catch someone’s attention and make them realize that what we need in order to change the course in which we are headed are those positive words that only make things right and focus on the positive instead of the negative.”

Exhibitions of the posters and book were held in Miami art gallery CIFO and also at Miami’s New World School of the Arts in conjunction with AIGA: Miami. A book was published of the project with all of the participating artist photos and bios.

Take a look at the website for Common Underground to see more on this project.

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(The proposed Che Geuvara monument for Galway)

Dear editors,
As a victim of Che Guevara’s atrocities, as a historian, and as a Cuban of Irish descent, I am deeply disturbed by the fact that the city of Galway is planning to erect a monument to Ernesto “Che” Guevara. I don’t mind one bit if those behind this monstrous project want to believe lies — that’s their right in a truly free society — but it would be wrong to allow their abysmal ignorance or willful blindness to stand unchallenged.

These are the words written by Yale Professor Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy, which won the National Book Award in 2003. He wrote this letter and submitted it to the Irish Times in response to plans by the city of Galway to erect a statue honoring Che Guevara. The Times demurred, but it was published in the Galway Advertiser, and Professor Eire has given National Review permission to reprint it.

He goes on to compare Che to Irelands Oliver Cromwell’s sketchy history too. “If Galway wants to honor Che with a monument” writes Carlos, “it should also build one for Cromwell, right next to it. It’s only fair.” Read the whole letter in the National Review.

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Today we introduce another 2 hours of Cuban jams and talk time with our special guest of the week, Helena Kubicka de Braganca. At 20 years old, Helena saw Soy Cuba for the first time and her life would never be the same.


(Sugar Barons guest, Photographer Helena Kubicka de Braganca)

It would take another 8 years before she finally followed her gut and dove into the island herself for over 2 months meeting “artists, musicians, prostitutes, farmers, and revolutionaries”. The result is I Am Cuban, a hardcover coffee table book inspired by her travels through the nation. Although Helena was born in London (to Polish and Portuguese immigrants), we consider her an honorary Cuban. You won’t want to miss our conversation about contemporary Cuba and the fountain of inspiration she bumped into.

Tune in today (Wednesday) on www.radiolily.com from 2-4 pm for a new set of Cuban classics and some a trip down memory lane for Helena.

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