From someone who was there with you, in Cuba, while you paraded around like naked kings and filmed your little movie:
Dear Luis and friends,
Why am I spreading lies about you? Just to let you know I only read the title of your e-mail that you sent me. If you want to continue a dialogue, I suggest you do it here in public where it began.
About my critique on the behaviour of you and your crew when you were shooting your film in Havana (which you call lies), well we could argue about this until we are blue in the face. In the end it is only for yourself to decide whether your actions were or were not appropriate. There is however a much bigger issue at stake and that has to do with the film itself.
Your friend who wrote the response in the blog was correct when he pointed out that no one has in fact seen the film yet and until that time one cannot give a fully accurate critique of the project. Yet judging by the strong reaction your film has already provoked in the public, you may have noticed that shooting a film in a Cuba is an extremely controversial action, an action that you will have to take responsibility for. Taking responsibility for his or her actions, whether you feel comfortable with this or not, is the main role of an artist.
Now being a filmmaker myself who has written, directed and produced several films, I know first hand what it means to take responsibility. It means treating your subject matter with respect (which in turn treats your audience with respect). Respect comes from having deep understanding of the culture/ people/ and subject matter that you portray in the film. This understanding leads to an empathy that allows you to depict your subject matter in an inoffensive way, even if the film is a critique of that culture. So how does a filmmaker come about having that understanding? Well when it deals with a foreign culture, it comes from living and working in that culture, interacting with the people on an everyday basis and doing tremendous research, research that often takes years to do.
So my questions for you are: How long had you been in Cuba before you began shooting? How much research did you do about the culture and people beforehand? Did you live there? Did you work there? Did you use Cubans as a part of the crew, allowing them to make serious, creative decisions about the script, the dialogue and about the portrayal of the Cuban people depicted in your film?
Perhaps you will respond by saying the film isn’t about Cuba. It’s about a man who goes to Cuba. but this is where you cease to take responsibility for your role as an artist. Simply by going to Cuba you have made a statement. By shooting a film there you have opened up a volatile can of worms. You don’t need my “lies” to trigger off the anger towards your own actions. You have already done this by using Cuba, your own Cuban heritage and the volatile political situation to spread your own lies- lies about your understanding of the integrity of filmmaking and about your understanding of Cuba and the Cuban people who are suffering tremendously day by day.
Yes I should wait for the film to come out before making this statement, but I feel confident enough by what I have already seen about the project and what you have to say in your defense, to come to the conclusion that you are exploiting the Cuban people and the whole subject of Cuba to sell yourself and your career.
I will make an effort to watch the film when it comes out, and if you prove me wrong I promise to take back my words and offer an apology.
In the end what I said about you and your crews actions in Cuba is insignificant gossip. It’s the film itself which will speak the truth.