Indie Island: Cuba’s New Wave of Filmmakers Get to Work


In this article, Cuban filmmakers, such as Pavel Giroud [shown above] and Fernando Pérez, speak about the new wave of independent film-making in Cuba. As Pérez explains, “You can now make independent cinema in Cuba. You don’t need to wait for the industry to give you the opportunity to film.”

No Hollywood blockbuster, it’s a low-budget music video for a band. Yet there is still something unique, almost revolutionary, about how it’s being produced. It’s part of a new wave of independent film-making in Cuba.

Video clips, short films, documentaries and even successful feature-length movies have been made not through the state-run cinema industry, but by independents financed from abroad. More and more, it seems, Cuba’s film-makers are striking out on their own.

Leading the way is director Pavel Giroud. His latest movie, El Acompanante, examines the Cuban government’s handling of the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. Set for its Cuban premiere during the Havana Film Festival, it is an independent co-production with support from France, Venezuela and Colombia. “This is an indie film,” Giroud tells me during pre-production. “It doesn’t pertain to any of the major studios around the world or in the United States.”

It is also not tied to Cuba’s state-run cinema agency, the ICAIC. “They are collaborating with us, facilitating and making life easier for us, for which we’re grateful,” Giroud says. “But they have no link to the production itself.”

The film has been well received on the festival circuit, though given the subject matter – about how the authorities kept infection rates down by detaining HIV patients in a sanatorium – its director thinks it’s not one the state would have made itself. But he says it’s encouraging that he was able to make the movie with no interference from above and he’s urging the government to change the law to allow more productions to adopt his model. “It’s a blueprint which a group of film-makers and I are putting all our support behind. This is our best bet for the future,” he explains.

But Giroud admits there isn’t complete unity over the idea. “Others disagree with me, including within the cinema community in Cuba. But I’m going to push for the ICAIC to become a film institute like anywhere else in the world – with links and relationships to the smaller production houses.

“I think that would be the most effective structure for Cuban cinema.” [. . .]

For full article, see


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