Watching, Rooting, & Supporting The New Cuba (Producer / Content Creator)

Posts tagged ‘jauretsi’

Recently, I met Paula Goldstein through our mutual friend and globetrotting DJ, Mia Moretti. Paula runs a sweet website named Voyage d’etudes, focusing on travel, and women doing inspirational things abroad.

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(Paula Goldstein, Founder/Editor of Voyage D’etudes)

How did it all come together? “I spent most of my 20s living out of a half-unpacked suitcase” confesses Paula. “My jet-set journey from small town Essex, was touch-and-go at times but also exceptionally lucky.” After many colorful adventures traveling the world (some light moments, some dark moments), Paula began a “global girl gang” of sorts, to share stories, and hold space for each other.  It was a place “conceived to share the wealth of support and knowledge I was given by my network of female friends”.

“The world is bigger when we’re united” she declares of the mantra. “And I believe our stories are what bring us together. Voyage D’etudes is a place to celebrate travel that is less about tuning out, and more about tuning in together.” Needless to say, I was honored to embark on a conversation about Cuba with the passionate lady. It was a topic of deep interest to her given that her husband is Cuban. Well, I’ll say no more, and let her take it from here. The following is a piece from our chat…

Thanks for the love, Paula.
Keep that wanderlust poppin!
-Jauretsi

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In true Global Girl Gang fashion I was connected to Jauretsi Saizarbitoria by our mutual friend Mia Moretti, after I read about her talk on connectivity and it’s resulting changes in Cuba. My husband is a Miami Cuban, so I have a lot of personal interest in anything about this largely isolated island nation. Ironically, Jauretsi and I struggled to connect across several mediums, yet after a series of bounced emails and missed messages her story arrived, and it was well worth the wait.

Paula: Firstly, tell me a little bit about you, Jauretsi.

Jauretsi: I’m a Leo, a media girl, an ex-New Yorker, and present expat in Cuba, who’s on a constant journey trying to figure it all out. I’m sure the insatiable curiosity stems from my roots, being part Cuban, part Basque — 2 proud (with a capital “P”) cultures, obsessed with independence while finding their place in this world. I sort of laugh about it. It’s in my DNA.

P: Where did you grow up?

J: Miami Beach, where it all started, the land of the Cuban exiles. It’s also the land that set my thermostat. Love heat. Hate winters. Big ocean girl.

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P: What do you do?

J: Currently, I’m a Producer in Cuba, supporting all things that are the New Cuba. I’ve worked on everything from documentaries to music projects to art consulting to tech initiatives. I also now provide travel experiences, bringing lots of great industry friends to the island to immerse themselves in the new Cuba.

P: You run the “New Cuba,” tell me about that… What is the mission?

J: It’s funny because I called it The New Cuba early on, not quite sure what it would be. I just knew that I wanted to explore all things “New Cuba,” and that I didn’t want to be limited by sector. So today, the New Cuba (both the website editorial and my services) tends to observe and honor this new incarnation through the lens of culture. The mission is to break from this cliche that Cuba is stuck in the past. It’s actually an emerging market, bursting with new energy and fresh ideas.

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P: Cubans are very proud, and there is a very rich history there. What do you think people in Cuba would want the rest of the world to know more about them as a country, beyond the obvious politics?

J: The thing with young Cubans is that they have been raised their whole lives with a strong narrative pushed onto them from their own society. Then there is this outside faction of “Anti-Castros” who are also pushing their own agendas onto the residents. I think the younger Cubans are more awake than we understand. They are trying to create a new definition of what it means to be Cuban, and how they want their society to move forward. I think they want to be seen as individuals, looking to join the world market. The lack of global media on the island contributes to this information black hole, but we’re slowly seeing a DIY market emerge, with young creatives expressing themselves through fashion, film, tech, and design. This is a youth culture that wants to maintain the fruits of the revolution, yet discard what didn’t work. How this plays out is a mystery, and only time will tell.

P: Cuba is changing a lot right now. What do you attribute that shift to?

J: This year will be the most transformative year Cuba has had in generations. This April 2018, Raul Castro (Fidel’s brother) is stepping down from power. That means it’s been 59 years that Cuba has been ruled by a Castro. Most of the present mechanisms are still in place with the new government, but make no mistake: this is a big tectonic shift, both mentally and spiritually. For the first time in 3 generations, Cuba will be living a post-Castro world. The States’ difficult new mission will be to win the hearts of their youth, and to help fix a broken economy. The reality is that there is a lot of work to do. We are in unchartered territory.

To read the rest of the interview, visit VoyagedeTudes/Jauretsi.

All Photos by Amanda Bjorn, another rad traveling spirit who hosts photo tours in Cuba.
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(Photographer Amanda Bjorn)

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(Supporting stickers by Clandestina)

It’s the end another week in Cuba, and we’d like to give a round of applause to Havana World Music for pulling off these 3 days of global music. Just like the band origins, each visitor represented a spectrum of countries ranging from local Cuban flavor to Europeans, to Americans, to Africans, and beyond. Closing night was the climax, a performance by The Orishas, hometown boys gone big.

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Very early in the night, lines of fans wrapped around the entire Almendares Park. The show took place under the bridge of the sacred Almendares river The band took their time on stage, churning out hits from each album and stage of their career. It has been 18 years, so why not stretch out this glorious moment? They even invited a few guest artists on stage. Singer Yotuel also took a few moments during the night to just talk to the audience, and on multiple occasions, really opened his heart about how much it meant to be Cuban, and perform in the motherland.

The New Cuba wants to thank all the organizers who I can personally declare are some of the hardest working showpeople in business. Seeing these last few months of their pre-production sweat and passion has truly filled me with optimism for the near future.

Here’s a few pics I snapped of the evening. It’s just a drop of water compared to the oceans of people who attended. Hopefully, it’s enough of a taste to bring you back next year as the HWM festival spreads its wings into a power-player for local culture.

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(All Photos by Jauretsi)

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Utah is getting a big injection of Cuban fever at the start of 2017. We’ve spent the better part of the year reading about the importance of Cuba/US engagement from media outlets like New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and a myriad of other outlets. Journalists have played an important role in opening this discussion while reporting a balanced story line.

This Jan 2017, it’s the filmmakers and artists who will show us what exactly engagement looks like. We’ll see curious cameras entering homes, filmmakers having “on the ground” discussions with every day Cubans, and putting a mirror up to Cuban society. None of the films are about the normalization process per say, but each of the tales are of everyday life — an American concert on the malecon, the only State-run phone company in Cuba (ETECSA), the selling of a home in Cuba, and a school that teaches English to Cubans, and more. Because all these films were captured in 2016, it is all the more reason to pay attention to what these local Cubans are expressing as we enter the Trump administration in 2017. It will take an act of Congress to fully lift the US embargo, but the more that Americans understand Cuban society today, the better it will respond to its needs in order to grow and prosper in this new era. We cannot affect Cuban policy, but we CAN affect American policy through phonecalls to our legislators, and shifting the American consciousness towards a more open relationship with Cuba. Of course Cuba will need to determine their own future, but these films are a peek into a society seeking to redefine itself.

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(Casa en Venta – a short film on the the new real estate sector for homeowners)

I’m lucky enough to have worked on two of these films (Films #1 and #2 below) which will premiere at the festival this January, one as a Story Producer and the other as a Cuba Production Consultant. Upon entering Pre-Production, each of the teams asked a bevy of questions which opened healthy dialogue — including the current state of Cuba, its relation to the US, its complex history, its challenges with filmmaking, the US Embargo laws, the tone of questions permitted, the current reforms in Cuba, the spectrum of characters, etc. etc. It seems that answering one question in Cuba begets another 50 questions. Something as simple as weak internet on the island poses enormous challenges during production, including emailing local staff or sending large files to the States. It’s a rabbit hole of lessons, but each production diligently pressed forward and managed to capture their stories with tight deadlines, frustrating conditions, an open heart, and limited budgets. Together, both films bookmark the gamut of the population today — from the elder tales of Buena Vista Social Club to the hungry young tech scene of Major Lazer’s audience. One film presents the bowing out of an older generation, while the other film introduces the future of Cuba. Both generations are very dear to me, and both being an honor to explore with Directors Austin and Lucy respectively (and their film families) who all came to Cuba in 2016.

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(Conectifai – a short film on Cuba’s phone company and internet status)

The other 3 films playing at the Sundance Film Festival this January are mini docs, but despite their short length, they are all paramount stories to explore in Cuba today. These include the story of technology today (the phone company and the emerging internet), the new home “buyers market”, and the tale of a small school that teaches Cubans to speak English as they prepare to work with “La Yuma” (nickname for the Americans).

All three storylines share the urgency of Cuba’s desire to integrate into the global economy and international community. The most interesting part of these 3 shorts is that it was nurtured by an American Institute, Sundance Labs (who attended the Havana Film Festival the last two Decembers to workshop scripts and stories with local filmmakers). Together, the 3 shorts are presented as a collection entitled “Made in Cuba”, an an example of the Sundance Institute’s “longstanding commitment to international artists” says Paul Federbush who spearheads the lab. These films were guided by the Institute’s Documentary Film Program in collaboration with La Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (EICTV) and Guardian documentaries.

… and now a breakdown of all 5 films:

Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 6.57.46 PM.png1- Give Me Future: Major Lazer in Cuba – Director: Austin Peters / USA – FEATURE FILM

In the spring of 2016, global music sensation Major Lazer performed a free concert in Havana, Cuba—an unprecedented show that drew an audience of almost half a million. This concert documentary evolves into an exploration of youth culture in a country on the precipice of change. World Premiere U.S.A., Cuba

Austin Peters is a director living in New York. Raised in Los Angeles, he went on to study film at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He has directed two short-form documentaries: Braids, starring Lupita Nyong’o for Vogue, and NYC, 1981, a companion piece to the recent film A Most Violent Year. His music videos for Chvrches’ “Empty Threat” was named one of the 10 best music videos of 2015 by Rolling Stone

Screen Shot 2016-12-23 at 11.06.50 PM.png2- Buena Vista Social Club Doc / “Untitled” -Dir: Lucy Walker / USA,UK-FEATURE FILM

The musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club exposed the world to Cuba’s vibrant culture with their landmark 1997 album. Now, against the backdrop of Cuba’s captivating musical history, hear the band’s story as they reflect on their remarkable careers and the extraordinary circumstances that brought them together. World Premiere.

Lucy Walker is an Emmy Award–winning director and two-time Academy Award–nominee. She is renowned for creating riveting, character-driven nonfiction that delivers emotionally and narratively. Her films—including Waste Land, The Crash Reel, Devil’s Playground, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, and The Lion’s Mouth Opens—have won over 100 awards and honors. Her new film, the untitled Buena Vista Social Club documentary, is her fifth feature (and ninth film) to screen in official Sundance Film Festival selection.

Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 7.01.58 PM.png3- “Connection” or “Conectifai” – Dir: Zoe Garcia

ETECSA—Cuba’s only telephone company—installed Wi-Fi routers in 18 public parks in 2016. For many Cubans, this meant being able to go online for the first time. Now connected to a technology that is entirely new to them, we see how Cubans explore social media, online dating, and the ability to reconnect with family members living just 90 miles away. U.S. Premiere
Director Zoe Garcia graduated in mass communication studies, specializing in photography, at the Higher Institute of Art in Havana, Cuba. In 2008 she took a course on documentary cinema and TV at the International School of Film and TV in Cuba. Garcia has worked as a screenwriter, assistant director, and photographer.

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 9.50.48 PM.png4- Film: “Great Muy Bien” – Dir: Sheyla Pool

After the United States restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, it was no longer unrealistic for Cubans to dream of one day living and working abroad. Citizens of all ages, with diverse aspirations, enroll at the makeshift Big Ben English school in Havana in order to prepare themselves for a future of normalized relations between Cuba and the United States.

Director Sheyla Pool graduated from the University of Havana in Hispanic languages and in sound from the International School of Film and TV at San Antonio de los Baños. She wrote and directed Protege a tu familia and Frágil. Pool was a consultant for the script of Esteban. Currently she is working on the script for Vínculos.

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 9.49.24 PM.png5- “Casa en Venta” or “House for Sale” – Dir: Emanuel Giraldo

After over 50 years, the ban disallowing citizens of Cuba from selling their own houses is lifted. Three Cuban families invite us into their homes as a showcase to prospective buyers — to hear their “sales pitch.” Filled with memories, souvenirs, and family members, these intimate spaces are filled with affection, highlighting a country on the verge of historical change.

Director Emanuel Giraldo Betancur was born in Medellin, Columbia in 1989 and graduated in film directing from the International School of Cinema and Television. Some of his projects are 1,2,3. . . Let’s Dance! and Amapearte. In December 2015, he participated in Nuevas Miradas in Cuba with House for Sale (2016 Sheffield Doc/Fest), which was supported by Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program.

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Stay tuned for more information as these films screen at the festival (or follow @TheNewCuba on Instagram for live activities).

For media inquiries, contact Jauretsi at jauretsi@gmail.com

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Questlove was the first person to reach me after President Obama’s announcement to normalize relations with Cuba on December 17, 2014 and ask to visit Cuba. His heart and soul has been invested in the island nation since their Havana performance in 2002, always dreaming of the day he’d go back. Enter April 2015, there was finally a hole in his exhaustive schedule, including Late Night with Jimmmy Fallon, tucked just after Coachella 2014. Cuba, here we come. It was a hell of a memory.

In addition to two nights of DJing, Questlove made good use of his time in Havana, engaging in extensive cultural research both by digging up some classic Cuban-made vinyl and by visiting the legendary EGREM studios, where most–if not all–of those classic sessions were recorded. Upon reading some of the comments on YouTube under this video, I noticed a random viewer nodding at the mini-doc while mentioning the other American rapper, Jay Z, and his visit. “Hova didn’t do shit but photo op in Cuba” wrote Ricardo Herrera. Harsh words, but penetratingly honest. It’s going to be the responsibility of each powerful US artist to truly look beyond the veil when visiting the island.

It seems the only action that Jay took was returning home and penning an “open letter” song to the US Administration. I cannot comment on any deep “conversations-on-the-ground” that Jay had in Cuba (maybe he did, maybe he didn’t), but nonetheless, it would have been informative to get a more robust report of his activities with the Cuban youth and personal insights he gained of their struggles today, beyond the cigars, 1950’s cars, and fluffy State tour. I’m not dissing on Jay because I am aware of his philanthropic efforts in other areas, however, my plea to Hova is, “Don’t sleep on Cuba”. Visiting is not good enough. Go deeper. Especially the marginalized [and sometimes censored] hip hop scene, who need your guidance more than ever to speak their truths.

I’d like to thank the whole team who helped put this trip and video together. Let’s keep doing this!

Credits:

Directors: Jauretsi & Daniel Petruzzi
Cinematographer: Hector David Rosales
Sound Technician: Adrian Garcia
Editor: Jake Remingon
Executive Producer: Daniel Petruzzi for Okayplayer
Produced by: Edgar Productor n Jefe, Okayplayer, You and Me Inc.
Sugar Barons.
All Music Courtesy of: Edgaro Productor n Jefe & Maria Bacardi, MB Records

“Me Queda Voz (Instrumental)
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

“Cojimar” (Instrumental)
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

“Nunca Vida Mia”
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

“Nosotros” (Maria Bacardi Version)
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

Special Thanks to: EGREM, Fabrica de Arte Cubano, X Alfonso, Josue Garcia, La Rueda Producciones, Jorge Rodriguez, Joyce Alvarez aka Bjoyce, Tania Canet Iglesias, Cultural Island Travel

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(A Man whose “Soul is Fed”, Ahmir backstage after his DJ Performance at La Fabrica)

All photos: Jauretsi

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Normally I don’t post fashion stuff on this Cuban blog, but this one seems quite noteworthy. It seems the prestigious Parisian fashion house, Lanvin has, um, “let their hair down”. To be specific, here’s Karen Elson and Raquel Zimmermann gettin DOWN to Cuban-American artist, Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me”. Oh yeah, it went there!

Go Steven Miesel!

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The star of East of Havana, rapper Soandry, is based in Cuba but was recently granted a visa for a short stay in the USA. On his journey though the United States, he is visiting Penn State this Friday for a screening and Q&A on Thursday, November 4, 2010. Any college students who are eager to discuss modern day Cuba would deeply enjoy this conversation.

Read more info here at Onwardstate.com.

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