Cuban Filmmaker Miguel Coyula and His Memories of Development


Miguel Coyula was born in 1977 in Havana. He has been called a “maverick filmmaker” because he has been working outside of the mainstream (almost always) as a one man crew since he made his first short at age 17 with an old VHS camcorder. This short granted him admission to study at the International Film School of San Antonio de los Baños in Cuba (EICTV). Since then he has gathered many Cuban national awards with cutting edge shorts films such as Bailar sobre agujas [Dancing on Needles, 1999], Buena onda [Good Vibe, 1999], Clase z tropical [Class Z Tropical, 2000], among others.

In 2000, he traveled to the US on an invitation from the Providence Latino Film Festival. While visiting New York he met Anna Strasberg of the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and after screening his thesis film was offered a scholarship. While attending the Strasberg Institute in New York, Coyula made his first feature film, Cucarachas rojas [Red Cockroaches, 2003] for less than $2000 over a two year period. This film has won over 20 awards at international film festivals and was hailed by Variety as “A triumph of technology in the hands of a visionary with know-how…” In 2009 Coyula was awarded a John Simon Guggenehim Fellowship.

His next project is Memorias del desarrollo [Memories of Development, 2009], sequel to the Cuban classic Memorias del subdesarrollo [Memories of Underdevelopment 1968], which he is currently filming. It is based on the follow up novel by Cuban writer Edmundo Desnoes, also author of the original. In his interview with Juan Antonio García Borrero for Cine cubano: la pupila insomne (reprinted in La Ventana), Coyula explains that the idea for this film came after meeting Desnoes at the premiere of Cucarachas rojas in the Havana Film Festival in New York. They spoke about the novel and both were enthusiastic about the possibility of making a film. After reading the novel, Coyula began writing the first draft of the screen play immediately.

For García Borrero’s interview with Miguel Coyula (in Spanish), see

For photo and Ron Cotton’s interview with Miguel Coyula (in English), see

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