Artists and writers protest censorship of Cuban film at NYC film festival

A very long list of Cuban artists, writers, and academics have signed an open letter of protest against the Havana Film Festival of New York, denouncing its collusion with the censorship of the Castro regime.
Click on the video clip above for a glimpse of the film.
And go HERE to Penultimos Dias, which has posted the letter with all the signatures.

Open Letter against censorship of anti-Castro Cuban film in New York

Last week, Cuban filmmaker Carlos Díaz Lechuga announced that his film Santa and Andrés had been excluded from the competition in the 18th Havana Film Festival of New York, which will take place in that city from March 30th to April 7th.

This is not the first time that Lechuga’s film has been censored. Last December, it was banned from the Havana Film Festival, in Havana, Cuba. This exclusion, though unjustified, followed its own logic: Santa and Andrés shows the repression and harassment against a homosexual Cuban intellectual a few decades ago. The censorship from the Cuban cultural institutions against Lechuga’s film was a confirmation of the very repressive nature of the system.

But if it is logical that in Cuba the regime rejects its own reflection, it is inconceivable that a cultural institution in New York would emulate a dictatorship.

We, filmmakers, artists and creators, strongly denounce the censorship of Cuban artists, not only in their country of origin, but also in the United States, a nation in which so many artists from around the world have sought refuge from the violation of their right to express themselves, and to create and disseminate their work.

If we are repulsed that these things occur in Cuba, it is more intolerable for us that such authoritarian practices take place in the United States. Particularly when this is done while invoking the need to create bridges between both countries, which is what Carole Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Havana Film Festival of New York, did to justify her collaboration with Cuban cultural authorities in the double censorship of Santa and Andrés.

Establishing links with institutions from a dictatorial regime, while at the same time closing the door to the freest and most critical voices of a repressive society does not promote bridges, it thwarts freedom of expression and democracy. Collaborating with the repressors is an attack on liberty in any place and time, all the more so in New York, a city in which José Martí, Félix Varela, Reinaldo Arenas and so many other intellectuals and artists lived and created in freedom.

We call on public and private institutions that sponsor the Havana Film Festival of New York to withdraw financial support to projects that go against the free and inclusive spirit of the city of New York and the Constitution of the United States.


3 thoughts on “Artists and writers protest censorship of Cuban film at NYC film festival”

  1. This is all very well, certainly, but it misses or chooses to ignore the rather obvious nature of the film festival in question, not just now but from its inception: it’s cozily connected to Castro, Inc. and has never had the slightest intention to offend, let alone denounce, its art establishment friends in Havana. We’re talking “I’ll rub your back and you rub mine,” OK?

    In other words, this is asking the Rosenberg woman and her outfit to act as if they were totally uncompromised and uncompromisingly championed unfettered freedom of expression, in which case they would never have been on good terms with the Castro people. Of course they claim to be apolitical, but then again, so do people like Omara Portuondo and other very well documented Castro bootlickers.

    As for “this cannot possibly happen in New York,” please–it not only can but has. This is not the so-called “Piss Christ” business or graphic Mapplethorpe S&M photos; this is calling out the “revolution,” which is a far less fashionable proposition, and remember: in a way, the “revolution” was made by New York.

    And by the way, where are people like Pedro Almodóvar, Gabriel Bardem, Madonna, Ellen Degeneres, Rosie O’Donnell, Sean Penn, etc. etc. on this? Shouldn’t Meryl Streep be going ballistic? Or is this just, you know, too political?

  2. If Lechuga had made a film about proper Cuban characters like Mariela’s drag queens or the Mammy Brigade (from a suitably “normalized” perspective, of course), the festival people would have been delighted to promote his work. Gotta build them bridges, you know.

  3. The public letter calls on the official sponsors of the film festival to withdraw their support. The sponsors are listed on the festival’s website (; scroll to the bottom of the page to see the list. They include Telemundo, the (film) Directors’ Guild of America, the Bronx Museum, and the NY State Council of the Arts, among many others. It should be interesting to see if anyone pulls out, but I rather doubt any of them will, and they may not even acknowledge the problem unless pressed. The controversy can be brushed off as “those people” having another hissy fit, and I expect it will be.

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