For the first time, Cuba implemented a production fund to stimulate film creation among the island’s filmmakers.
The first and second call of the Film Development Fund were launched in May and June, respectively, by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (Icaic).
The contest was a long awaited request by the film community, which for years has been calling for a competition of this type that would put all Cuban filmmakers’ proposals on an equal footing.
The implementation of the Fund stems from Decree-Law 373/2019 of the Independent Audiovisual and Cinematographic Creator, which provided legal support for this artistic activity in Cuba.
This decree recognizes the professional status of the independent audiovisual and cinematographic creator and from it arises the Independent Audiovisual and Film Creators’ Registry, which formalizes the legal capacity of creators respect to the State.
Indeed, the condition required to participate in the Fund is to belong to the Registry of Audiovisual and Film or Literary Creators.
What is the Fund?
The Cuban Council of Ministers reached an agreement to create the Cuban Film Development Fund, whose main revenues come from the State budget.
The financial amounts – coming, in the first place, from the budget allocated by the Cuban State for culture, although other sources, such as donations, are recognized – that will be allocated, after the selection
made by the committee among the projects submitted, will make the creation of works possible.
The first call, which ended on July 10, presented several modalities : scriptwriting for feature-length film projects of fiction, documentaries and animation ; development of fiction, documentary and animation feature film projects ; and postproduction of fiction, documentary and animation feature film projects.
Meanwhile, the second call for applications was opened in the following categories : fiction, documentary and animation short films ; fiction, documentary and animation feature films in project production and first film.
Kariculture spoke with two young Cuban screenwriters, graduates of the San Antonio de los Baños International School of Cinema and Television. Both are participating in the competition with several feature film and screenplay projects.
What are the expectations of young filmmakers in relation to the Fund?
Nuri Gutiérrez and Laura Conyedo have high expectations of this contest “not only because it is the real possibility of seeing their projects come true”, but because they see it as a stimulus for audiovisual creation in Cuba.
Nuri, who has a feature film in production in the Dominican Republic but not in her country, thinks the mechanism that existed before seemed right because it was not the norm for any film institution.
“There is normally a mechanism for competition in each country and in Cuba we have now managed to ensure that a call puts everyone on an equal footing, that’s why it’s so important. The Fund gives equal opportunities to Cuban filmmakers and not only to young people, it gives equal opportunities to everyone who wants to film”, she says.
She adds : “In my case, I am optimistic and the good news is that this option is supposed to exist every year, because before we had to look for international funds. She is competing with Alan Gonzalez (also a screenwriter) in two categories.They have a screenplay project called “Bestiario” and a first feature film, “La Mujer Salvaje”.
For her part, Laura is competing in the “Projects in development” section with two fiction feature films : “El Regresado”, co-authored with Armando Capó, which won the Choral Prize for the first feature film at the last Havana Film Festival ; and “Los Caídos” with director Damian Sainz. She says that “the Fund is a stimulus for young directors’ projects, because it exists independently of the annual productions of the Icaic”.
In addition, she thinks that the mere fact of being able to debate with other projects promotes quality of what would be the new Cuban cinema and she is sure that the competition will grow in strength because there are many good projects that were shelved and they can finally start to be shown.
“The Fund is only good news for a young cinema to continue to exist in Cuba”, she says.