Why Stay: Young Independent Filmmakers in Contemporary Havana
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This project, containing a written thesis and documentary film, investigates contemporary film production by young Cuban filmmakers in Havana, Cuba. In the changing audiovisual landscape young filmmakers are often positioned as ‘independent’ cultural producers. Social, political and economic relationships to institutional structures have encouraged initiatives within the filmmaking community. Young filmmakers participate in these initiatives forming new spatial, social and financial relationships on and off the island. These connections are facilitated through growing access to media and technology as well as a desire for engagement with global film markets. These factors also influence the types of images young filmmakers seek to produce as well as their production methods. The documentary film entitled Por Amor al Arte follows the experiences and films of five young filmmakers in Havana, Cuba. The documentary further addresses the question: How do young Cuban filmmakers produce films away from the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC), the dominant film institute, within the contemporary Cuban context? And do they have the desire to continue to produce film in Cuba and why? Because the Cuban film industry continues to function on the centralized model established after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the ICAIC maintains its position as the sole producer and distributor of Cuban cinema. Due to scarce resources and little economic support in the 1990s many of Cuba’s filmmakers sought alternative methods to produce their films away from the ICAIC. Today young filmmakers benefit from certain resources and approaches developed in the 1990s, while new struggles emerge within a contemporary context. Filmmakers who produce away from the ICAIC, however, do not have legal standing in the country and cannot operate as independent production companies. Furthermore, most productions are created and screened in Havana, Cuba, which privilege those who live in the city. Young filmmakers in Havana negotiate these factors and consider the possibilities of staying in Cuba to produce their work.