Update: The Culture Follies

An art exhibition and a film festival add to the innumerable cultural venues that reflect the unfortunate fascination with all things Cuban. It is a misfortune for ordinary Cubans, because the interest never seems to extend to the oppression which colors their lives. It gets to be a dance, vetting events, sponsors, content, etc…
The Havana Film Festival New York runs from April 11-17, 2008. The name is something of a misnomer, since it “celebrates” Latin American cinema. So question, why the Havana? Why can’t it be the Quito Film Festival New York? Kvetching aside, it is a “project” of the American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, one of those “building cultural bridges” organizations, giving me more than a few reservations. The opening night film is La Noche de los Inocentes / The Innocent’s Night, a film by Cuban filmmaker Arturo Soto. The festival is also bestowing tribute on a variety of island film types- the director of Strawberry and Chocolate, the greatest actor in all of Cuba, yada yada yada. Go at your own risk. More details here.
Feeling left out of all of these multiethnic events, Charleston is holding the First Charleston International Arts Festival with a concentration on Cuba starting today. If there’s ever a city that doesn’t bring Cuban to mind, it’s Charleston. Love the city; love the barbeque, but Cuban? So it is with trepidation that I read
“The objective of the exhibition is to present living artists from Cuba and the hardships that they have to overcome on a daily basis in order to create their masterpieces, from making their own paper to preserving traditional values of the nation such as Santeria. Santeria, a Westernized interpretation of ancient Yoruban tribal practices, is reflected in several works that will be presented at the exhibition
Now really Santeria as a “value of the nation”? I don’t mean to be a stickler here, but as far as I now, it was a religion for a few and a quasi avocation for many, many more. This is the best they can do? And then there’s this:
“The second part of the festival will take place April 6 at El Bohio Cuban restaurant… with a movie premiere of “Sipping Jetstreams” and a Cuban fiesta.
Is a fiesta different from a party? Oh yeah, it must be the Mexican hats.
Before I get any sillier, here’s the article. And here is the website for the festival. You gotta go “Beyond the Door” where you’ll not only “enjoy” the gullibility of the curator, but you’ll also find Sandra Levinson. Think I’ll link directly there. Ah, the plot thickens.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty fed up with these misguided attempts to get to know the natives. Get my drift?
Update: For those of you not familiar with Levinson and her center, I’m posting a link to an earlier post on Cuba Watch here. She is definitely not on the side of the angels.

5 thoughts on “Update: The Culture Follies”

  1. Someone had mentioned to me that there was a Cuban Restaurant in Charleston, but could not tell me the name. Thanks for the heads up on this festival … now that I know the name and address, I might check out “Bohio”. I hope the weather is cool, so that I can wear my sweat-shirt “WE MUST NEVER FORGET” with CUBA behind bars since 1959 … along with my CAMBIO bracelet … 🙂 I wonder if they have a CAMBIO poster hanging on their wall …
    The article states:
    “The festival, designed to reopen the door and answer countless questions that Americans have about isolated Cuba, will offer a more detailed insight into Cuban life through a series of lectures, movie premieres and musical performances. The festival will uncover what is hidden behind the closed door of the embargo during lectures on Latin American and Cuban art, and Cuban culture.”
    Give me a break … “isolated” & “closed door of the embargo” … I’m afraid this is a good indicator of the actual agenda of the festival!
    I wish you well 🙂 Melek
    “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” ~ John Adams

  2. Ruth-
    I hit the wall right when I read:
    “. . . preserving traditional values of the nation such as Santeria.”
    Can you say “stereotypes?”
    I think I might not really be Cuban after all…

  3. Val,
    The SAD thing is that I have mentioned this Center and it’s leader to Cubans young and old in Miami and they have no clue! I was at versailles cafe and I was talking to a group of old and young Cuban exiles and they looked at me like I had two heads when I told them about the center – totally clueless!
    I hope you guys know who Sandra Levinson really is. She is or was one of the Cuban government’s biggest non Cuban agents in New York City – her Center for Cuban Studies was created by celebs like Harry Belofante, Tony Randall (yes, Felix)
    Nort many in New York knows this center is a front and money-making scam for Cuba. It’s huge loft-like windows have a gigantic Cuban flag hanging, and as of recently, a large poster from Cuba urging the return of Elian Gonzalez. This innocent sounding group, according to Ronald Radosh, was funded with the help of the Cuban government and its supporters in New York City. Radosh, who is an ex 1960s leftist, also notes that the Center for Cuban Studies is “a semi-official propaganda agency for Castro in the United States.” It’s reputed to be a wing of the Cuban Intelligence Agency (DGI). The center is also known to travel to Cuba and buy art from starving Cuban artists for a few dollars, and then for a large markup – sell the Cuban art at outrageous prices at their New York City gallery.
    And This from a May 28, 2002 Radio Havana Article
    According to the director of the center, Sandra Levinson, the purpose of the institution is to promote the Cuban revolution and its culture. Besides making art collections, films and other materials from Cuba available to the public, the Center for Cuban Studies also publishes a quarterly magazine called “Cuba Update.”

  4. Mandingo is absolutely right about Sandra Levinson. The Center for Cuban Studies located on 23rd St. in Manhattan is the nerve center for Castroite prograganda in NYC. Sandra Levinson is so notorious that Reinaldo Arenas dedicated a character to her in his novel, the Doorman. Those who know Arenas’s work, know that he would slightly change the names of real-life scroundrals and incorporate them in his books. In this way, Sandra Levinson, became Cassandra Levinson the notorious and fanatical frontline propagandist for the tyranny who would make thousands of dollars by selling Cuban art in the USA and would travel to Cuba to have sex with black men.
    Next time that you see a pro-Castro PBS documentary on TV take the time to look at the credits and you will probably see the name of the Center for Cuban Studies among the credits.
    Unfortunately, since there are no Cuban exile cultural centers in the Northeast, whenever any unsuspecting researcher wants information on Cuba, he goes to the Center for Cuban Studies for information. It’s not entirely the fault of the unsuspecting researcher, its our fault for allowing this total vacuum that Sandra Levinson has filled in an uncontested way.

  5. Sorry, guys, we’ve had a couple of run-ins with the pinko Levinson and her shady center before. That’s why I pointed out that she was behind it. Mea Culpa. I should have been clearer.

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