Armando Capó – “I Can Not Understand The Amnesia Induced In A Whole Nation”
Armando Capó: “I Can Not Understand The Amnesia Induced In A Whole
Nation” / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez
Posted on December 2, 2015
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 1 December 2015 — The most recent
project of the young filmmaker Armando Capó is to bring to the screen
the Rafter Crisis of 1994. This director, born in Gibara (Holguin) in
1979, has long felt that this dramatic movement in our national life has
not been publically addressed. Now, he wants to join these images he
carries with him from that time and film “August,” a movie to experience
In the midst of a crowdfunding campaign to bring his project to the big
screen, Capó spoke with 14ymedio via email from the San Antonio de Banos
International Film School.
This guajirito remembers when he met Marisol Rodriguez, Jorge Luis
Sanchez and Dean Luis Reyes at the Gibara Poor Cinema Festival, and they
invited him to the third Festival of New Filmmakers in Havana. “They
showed us Suite Habana and to me, it gave me an attack and I asked
myself why I wasn’t doing what I really wanted or wasn’t trying,” he
said. Shortly after, he moved to the capital to continue studying.
Since then his career as a director has led him to address ordinary or
extraordinary situations within the documentary genre. “My first
documentaries are more casual,” he explains. “Later, through school,
watching movies and growing experience, my documentaries became more
formal and correct. Each one has a different challenge but they’re not
free of errors.” His challenge for the future is to make “documentaries
that serve people, not only the director; where the aesthetic is not as
Yoani Sanchez. Among the many interesting issues of the day, why choose
for your next film the Rafter Crisis, which occurred more than two
Armando Capó. I grew up without the Internet, the only possible source
of information were the history books and the media, like the news. In
my history book in high school, the Russians had fraternally protected
Poland and the Baltic countries during World War II. It may have been
true, I did not live it (and we all know what really happened with the
pact between Hitler and Stalin). Instead, the Special Period and the
rafters is what I experienced. But the media and books didn’t talk about
hunger, pain, separation… It was converted into the glorious resistance
of the Cuban people to preserve the achievements of our Revolution: The
Special Period. When words are used to hide facts.
I cannot understand how there can be induced amnesia in a nation, and I
don’t think this helps to heal.
Then there’s the personal: this marked not only the country, but it
occurred at the time when I had to move to the city, when I fell in
love, and when I had to stop being a child.
Sanchez. How do you think you can cinematically reconstruct an event
that has so many verbal references and yet so few published images?
Capó. We have worked hard on finding those images, but more as a
reference to build situations. For example, at the end of the film,
Carlos accompanies a group of rafters who are preparing their raft just
beyond Caletones beach. Hence the images of rafters in the dog’s teeth
of Cojimar or in other parts of Havana that serve as well. There are
many good photos of the rafts, of how they were made, how they were
launched on the sea, etc. But the best are the recordings made by
foreign broadcasters, some press agencies, or by some correspondents or
individuals. These are very useful for the emotional climate, where you
can see the relationships between individuals, the pain, the sounds, and
even the prayers.
Sanchez. Why choose the method of crowdfunding to help finance August ?
Capó. Because it is not only a way to get money to make the movie:
everything we are doing now to publicize our crowdfunding is also a way
of promoting this film on the social networks and in the press.
Our idea is to build a community, to create an audience and the need to
see the movie. In Cuba there is no way to distribute it, no one goes to
the movie theaters, nor do the theaters generate any return on what is
spent on them. In addition, the distribution is very poor quality, which
makes the audience not want to go back. How do you reach an audience
like this, in a poor country and on top of that one scattered throughout
the world. The networks were created for this. The idea is to be able to
reach everyone, any possible viewer wherever they are in the world, make
the rounds of the festivals and a find a possible opening for streaming.
Now, if it is hard to access the community of Cubans outside Cuba, it
seems to us that it is because there isn’t much of a custom among this
community of participating in these kinds of campaigns, and it takes
time and media support to reach them, because it is a divided community
all over the world, with different realities and priorities. We know it
is hard, but we also know that it is possible. Right now, if 80 people
donate an average of 25 euros, we will make it.
Sanchez. How did you choose the actress Laura de la Uz for one of the
protagonists of the film?
Capó. There was no casting process. Laura is a great actress and I
needed good actors. I had given some thought to her during the writing
process, but nothing definitive. Then I consulted with the producers
Marcela Olivera and Claudia Esquivel, and they loved the idea.
I have to confess that I was a little afraid to approach her. But it is
because I respect her work so much and then one begins to create a
distance that is not real. So much so that I asked Fernando Perez to set
up a meeting, like when a school friend sets you up with a cute girl
you’re afraid to approach.
Now I think that the first time I tried to get it on with a girlfriend
was as clumsy as my first meeting with Laura.
Sanchez. Is the current migration crisis with Cubans stranded in Central
America a repeat of the nightmare of the rafters?
Capó. We did not expect this to happen, but in a certain sense it was
coming. The number of people who are attempting this route has grown to
approach or exceed the dramatic figures of the rafters in 1994, but
until now it was in dribs and drabs so it didn’t have the visibility of
20 years ago. It may serve to comfort to all the countries Cubans are
passing through in their journey that it is Costa Rica that is best able
to address this crisis.
My question is: Will crossing the border of Nicaragua eliminate the
problem? How can their route to the US be protected? Can they pass?
There are many testimonies of kidnapped migrants, of families that need
to be ransomed, or threats that they will receive pieces of their
families until they get the money. I think this is the beginning of a
possible tragedy whose consequences we can’t foresee.
Sanchez. In the last few months the need for a Film Law has been
strongly debated in Cuba, what do you think?
Capó. The country has changed and is becoming more pragmatic on the one
hand and more blind on the other. Symptomatic of this is the
announcement that cultural production has dropped to 0.5% of gross
domestic product. The austerity policy that is applied to culture is
reaping its rewards and they are not good. It is like the recipe the
International Monetary Fund applies to member countries to reduce their
I would like to see Cuba as a place that has enormous potential thanks
to its culture, a virgin territory. But if we are not capable of
protecting that culture against the coming changes, this cultural
patrimony that generates industry, then we are not thinking about the
future, much less the present. It is irresponsible to maintain that
Besides, there is a real need to regulate current film production, to
democratize access to financing, to create laws to protect those who
make movies, not only among ourselves but also with regard to those who
use our country as a stage. The ICAIC (Cuban Film Institute) as an
institution is rooted in a way of thinking and making movies that is, at
the least, archaic, and that is not capable of taking on the role as the
representative of Cuban cinema.
For me, a Film Law goes far beyond the necessary restructuring of the
audiovisual industry. I would like to see in it a a premonition of the
kind of relationship we should have in Cuba, of civic responsibility to
participate in proposals and solutions. That is why this proposal is so
subversive, because it creates a precedent for what an opinion group and
a guild can create. The proposal for horizontal citizen participation,
which for so long has not happened in our country.
Source: Armando Capó: “I Can Not Understand The Amnesia Induced In A
Whole Nation” / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez | Translating Cuba –