Cuban Filmmaking Today

December 1, 2017, 4 PM, AB-1180

Please join us for a screening of five short films by young directors working in the new context of independent filmmaking in Cuba. Cuban producer Jesús Hernández Bach will be present for a discussion of these films, which deploy a rich variety of techniques to represent a diversity of life experiences on the island.
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Free and open to the public. All films will be subtitled and our conversation will also be in English.

Co-sponsors: Department of Spanish and Portuguese; Center for Latin American Studies; Rutgers Global

Swan, Black Neck, White Neck/Cisne de cuello negro, cisne de cuello blanco, dir. Marcel Beltrán, 2009; 13 min.|
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Cisne cuello negro, cuello blanco. Dir. Marcel Beltrán 
Cuba, 2009, Spanish with English subtitles, 13 min., B/W


Taken as a madman and excluded by his family, Sergio Abel has an unusual coherence in his speech. A man of the country who loves his people, he tries to transmit a message of hope with his swans--the utopia of a better world.


Marcel Beltrán was born in Moa, Cuba. He earned a BA with highest honors in film studies at the University of the Arts (ISA) and a degree in Documentary at the International School of Film and Television (EICTV) in San Antono de los Baños, Cuba. He was featured in the 2015 Miami International Film Festival’s Cuban Independent Emerging Film/Video Artist program. On several occasions he received the Best Film and Best Director award at the Cuban Institute of Cinematic Arts and Industry’s Young Filmmakers Festival (ICAIC’s Muestra Joven), and last year he won the Coral Award for Best Short Film at the Havana Film Festival. His documentary Swan Black Neck, White Neck was shown at the 2013 Documentary Fortnight at MoMA in New York. His documentary Parihuela has been screened at several international festivals such as the Busan International Short Film Festival 2011 and Documenta Madrid 11. He participated in the Talent Campus Guadalajara 3, the Kino Off-Courts Trouville 2011, the Encuentro Cinergía in Costa Rica 2014, the Rotterdam Lab 2015 and in the Independent Imaging Retreat (Film Farm) in Mount Forest, Canada.

ABCs/Abecé, dir. Diana Montero, 2013; 15 min.
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Abecé. Dir. Diana Montero
Cuba, 2013, Spanish with English subtitles. 15min, Color


Facing her husband´s authority, Leoneidi, a 12-year-old girl living in Sierra Maestra, Cuba, struggles to combine play with motherhood and her obligations as a wife.


A graduate in Art History from the Faculty of Arts and Letters at the University of Havana, Diana Montero (Cuba, 1986) is a documentary director who graduated with the 23rd Generation from the International Film and Television School (EICTV) in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. She also studied at Concordia University in Montreal. She has produced and directed several documentary shorts, such as Miracle Worker (2014), ABC’s (2013), Just Like Cats (2013), and He Is You (2012). Her work has been screened in several film festivals and cultural institutions around the world. He Is You was part of the Sights and Sounds: Global Film and Video exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York. Miracle Worker was shown at the Latino and Iberian Film Festival at Yale University. Her documentary ABCs has won several awards, including the UNICEF Award at the 56th Bilbao Film Festival “ZINEBI”; Best Documentary Film at the 34th VGIK International Student Festival, Moscow, 2014, and Best Documentary Short at the 2014 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival. Since 2015 she lives and works in the United States.

Connected/Conectifai, dir. Zoe García, 2016; 16 min.
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Conectifai. Dir. Zoe García.
Cuba, 2016, Spanish with English subtitles. 18min, Color


In 2016, ETECSA – the only telephone company in Cuba – installed Wi-Fi routers in 18 public parks across the country. For many Cubans, this meant being able to go online for the first time. This portrait of one of these parks with Wi-Fi in Havana shows how a new social meeting place is the result, as every day crowds of people with smartphones, tablets and chairs turn up to cluster together around the antennas.

They help each other get online, roam around looking for better reception, and peer down at their screens together. During the day, old ladies turn up and in the evenings there are groups of young people. In the meantime, commerce is also flourishing, with vendors selling internet cards, drinks and snacks (“Pork crackling with Wi-Fi!”). Here, everyone has an opportunity to contact loved ones, explore social media, upload photos and find internet dates – very normal activities that reveal a rapidly-changing Cuba.


Zoe García is a graduate in Mass Communication Studies, specializing in photography, from the University of the Arts (ISA) in Havana, Cuba. Beginning in 2008 she studied documentary filmmaking at the International Film and Television School (EICTV) in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. She has directed the following documentaries: Todo tiempo pasado fue mejor, El mundo de Raúl, Retrato, Submission, Solo de Cuica, and El Vientre de la ballena, which is currently in production.

Son of a Dream/El hijo del sueño, dir. Alejandro Alonso, 2016; 9 min.
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El hijo del sueño. Dir: Alejandro Alonso.
Cuba, 2016, Spanish with English subtitles. 9min, Color


Alejandro Alonso’s uncle Julio César went to the US in the Mariel exodus in
1980, due to the tensions surrounding being homosexual in Cuba.
Over the next 15 years he tried unsuccessfully to reunite with the filmmaker’s grandmother, until he contracted HIV and disappeared without a trace. Letters and postcards that served as a bridge between them are now Alejandro Alonso’s compass to find him.


Alejandro Alonso graduated with a degree in Documentary from the International School of Film and Television (EICTV) in 2016. He has participated in several Talents of the Future workshops at the New Latin American Cinema Foundation in Havana. He received a scholarship to attend the second Ibero-American Human Rights Documentary Workshop in Bolivia in 2013. His films have been screened in festivals in Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, the United States, Indonesia, Holland, Spain, Georgia, Switzerland, Germany, Romania and France. His documentary Crisálida received the Best Short Film Award at the Oaxaca Film Festival and at the New York City Short Film Festival in 2013. The Farewell had its premiere at IDFA and won the Best Film award in the Aciertos category in FICUNAM (Mexico), as well as the Full Frame President’s Award in the US; it also received a special mention at the 44th Sehsüchte in Germany and was the Best Documentary at the Gibara Film Festival in Cuba. Duelo most recently had its world premiere at Cinéma du Réel, and Alonso’s first feature film The Project premiered at Visions du Réel this year. He is the current coordinator for the MA Alternative Cinema program at EICTV in Cuba.

Batería, dir. Damián Sáinz, 2016; 15 min.
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Batería. Dir: Damián Sainz. 
Cuba, 2016, Spanish with English subtitles. 15min, Color


The ruins of an ancient military fortress outside Havana have become a clandestine gay cruising spot. The old walls and the rubble give shelter not only to Cuban male homosexuals, but also to a culture of resistance and socialization.


Damián Sainz graduated from the University of the Arts (ISA), Havana, Cuba in Media Arts and from the International Film and Television School of San Antonio de los Baños (EICTV) in Documentary Direction. He also studied at the Mel Hoppenheim Film School in Montreal (Canada) and in the Cinema Department at HEAD Genève (Switzerland). Sainz has worked as a director, editor and producer of documentary films in Cuba, Canada, Switzerland and Spain and has collaborated with visual art projects like the Galería Continua, the Inventario at the Ludwig Foundation and the online project Docuselfie. His short documentary films have been selected to screen and received awards at several international film festivals such as the Havana Film Festival, the Fribourg in Switzerland, FICUNAM in Mexico and FICU in Uruguay. Sainz teaches documentary cinema at the EICTV in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. He lives and works as an independent filmmaker in Havana.