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    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
    the memories.

    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
    decades ago?

    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
    fiscal deficit.

    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 –