People don’t get to Nuevitas by chance. I learned that in August, 2000, when I entered that northern city in the eastern province of Camaguey, accompanied by trova singer Jorge Garcia in his tour through Cuba or rather through forgotten places.
Just thinking about the eight hour long trip by buss, that is, 613 kilometers from the Cuban capital to that place, makes me reconsider it.
Nuevitas is not just the project, a failed one due to the collapse of socialism, of one of the most industrialized cities of Cuba, but a town of humble fishermen, farmers working on the fields, workers that leave their homes at dawn and onlygo back to sleep. It is a city of highly contaminated and visibly dirty beaches that smell like ammonia when sea breeze is not strong.
Its streets are dwelled by tattooed youth as a reminder of men and women resembling Ray Bradbury, young people that only listens to their future in mermaid songs coming from the north, or from the incredibly beautiful beach of Santa Lucia and nearby cays celebrating international tourism, because Nuevitas is not visited by international tourism either (there is barely a house with a rent permit for tourist and rumor has it an Italian and a Canadian found their spiritual retirement placethere, they both of them fell for Nuevitas).
I returned once again with a purpose: I was invited to Hieroscopia 2014, the 4th Exhibit of a singular Audiovisual Movement (MAN by its acronym in Spanish), which takes place there despite or due to the fact that there are no movie theaters.
In 2006, a group of young art instructors belonging to the Jose Marti Brigade, sub-employed in schools, museums, and cultural houses, embarked on the adventureof telling their stories cinematographically, only supported by the democratization resulting from digital technologies and their strong desires to achieve something.
I met several of its main characters during last year’s event, when some of their pieces were selected by the single festival in Havana that deals with new producers in Cuba.
They had the reference of La Pira (Hugo Navarro), the first full length fiction film produced totally independently in the eastern part of the country, which touched the fishermen village since its premiere in the beginning of 2013.
A group of young people left the country illegally and that caught their attention taking into account that’s a common reality in that coastal town. For the film they didn’t summoned famous Cuban artists, they rather used non-actors, about 50 inhabitants from Nuevitas –of all ages and trades.
For that reason, I think it is worth highlighting the communitarian nature conveyed in the 40 pieces that make up MAN’s filmography, which, in my opinion, is their greatest success: telling their own stories and concerns in a participative process that involves all its inhabitants in this industry.
Illegal migration, gender violence, harassment in schools, homophobia, reggaeton, fishermen’s stories, zombies, mermaids, couples relationships, self-pleasure are some of the topics dealt with in short fiction films, documentaries, and even modest video clips, though it is noticeable some progress in formal terms.
A sample from the heart
About twentyyoung producers came together at the 4th edition of the event organized by MAN. They came from Havana, Sancti Spíritus, Holguín, Ciego de Ávila and Camagüey, by any means. Angelo del Castillo and his photographer Mandy Naranjo, both from Havana, established a new record of 24 hours on the road.
From August 8 through 11, we watched more than 30 materials on different subjects, different production and genres like video art, video clip, documentaries and short fiction films and animation, pieces by men and women though men still have more prominence in the cinema.
During four days of intense debates, I not only noticed the intention of the empiric hosts to gain more knowledge and update on the latest trends or introduce themselves among colleagues; I also became aware of their mutual concerns.
The need of producers; access to international cooperation funds and other emerging financing, distribution and exhibition means; royalties; ethics were some of their concerns analyzed.
Even though the event mainly focused on auteur cinema, there was room for the Audiovisual Creation Group (GCA by its acronym in Spanish) from Mayarí (Holguín), the producer of television series Zona Franca and Rumbo al Norte, which can be found in the Weekly Pack, better known as the Cuban YouTube.
Yordanis Chacón, Gregory Vázquez and José Ramón screened the trailer of the second season of Rumbo al Norte, which is based on a true story told in the book by the same name written by Rolando Vázquez.
GCA also displayed a short fiction film on the current situation of the public health system in his town and a video art.
From Holland and Belgium, three teenagers whose parents were born in Nuevitas, exhibited their work in El Picapica Flow Films. Their pieces have to do with common topics for their age. These portray their condition of children of immigrants and the influence of video games that are distributed for free in social networks.
Some shooting is also done in Nuevitas
For the last day of the event, there were three shooting teams with a similar number of short films that had been shot in one afternoon.
Three stories from Nuevitas, including one by Sarai Díaz, who debuted as director with a short fiction film on women, were shot with a NIKON D5000 and Daniel H.
Arevalo’s talent, who is a photographer from Havana that will major this year in direction from FAMCA, and a Canon EOS REBEL T3i handled by Del Castillo, director of short films such as Arroz con palitos, which resulted from Gibara’s Low Budget Film Festival.
During the sessions of the event, the shooting of the first short films by another woman from Nuevitas, Yaima Mendez, was announced. MAN is aware of gender equality and is interested in promoting and supporting her. So far, only one woman, Nailen Nuñez, had undertaken direction projects, two in fact: La criatura (2013) and La tortura (2014).