Submerged: Alternative Cuban Film Festival at FAU Will Provoke "Interesting Discussions"

Outside the reach of Fidel's block committees, working without the approval of Havana's bureaucrats, independent filmmakers are bursting the limits of mainstream Cuban cinema.

A selection of these films, rarely seen in the U.S., will be screened today through Sunday on FAU's Boca Raton campus. The festival, "Submerged," was curated by two leading lights of Cuban film, Dean Luis Reyes, of the prestigious International School of Cinema and Television, and director Miguel Coyula, who will speak on the festival's concluding day.

Michael Horswell, an FAU prof and expert on Latin American cinema, helped organize the festival and arranged to bring it here. He told New Times, "the main thing is to open local audiences to this interesting, challenging new work being done in Cuba."

As Horswell describes it, the films are experimental in varied ways:

These films connote something subversive that might make mainstream audiences uncomfortable; they are films that challenge expectations and cinematic traditions and that transcend the conditions that "official" visual culture might have imposed. Their audacity is relevant for contexts that go beyond the Cuban.

The wide range of the work may be typified by Coyula's feature-length Memories of Overdevelopment. It was adapted from the novel of the same name, and is a continuation of the story first told in Memories of Underdevelopment, the film version of which was a groundbreaker in art house cinema of the Sixties.

"It follows the same character," Coyula told us. "He can't find a place in contemporary society in Cuba or in the U.S." This alienation, he said, reflects that of his generation of Cubans, who were born under the revolution and "told it would become utopia. We became cynical, disaffected with politics." And yet, he added, there is no escape from engagement: "You know that everything you do has [political] repercussions."

Horswell told us he's had no static about the festival from the more reactionary elements of South Florida's Cuban community. We suggested that while they should be supportive of work done outside the Castro regime's direction, that might also be surprised by the filmmakers' choices.

"Hopefully," Horswell replied, "we'll have some interesting discussions."

The festival is free and open to the public . In addition to the screening of 18 Cuban films, there will be discussions and lectures by Cuban filmmakers and scholars of Latin American film.

Submerged: Alternative Cuban Cinema Festival, from September 27 to 29, at, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Performing Arts Building, Rm. 101. Visit fau.edu/cubanfilmfestival.

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