Are relations between the United States and Cuba advancing? Thousands of people from both sides of the Florida Strait ask themselves this question.
Cuban intellectuals, apart from their roles and positions, strive to turn culture into a neutral state for an effective exchange.
Film director Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti knows that a film doesn't change reality but influences the people's way of thinking, which does have the power to change it.
Cremata Malberti had an unforgettable experience in the United States. The opening of one of his most recent films, El premio flaco, at the 28th Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival, Minnesota, the United States, turned the artist into a culture ambassador.
An honor he enjoyed in the company of his mother and co-director, Iraida Malberti. In relation to this recent trip, some questions arose.
Q: Without briefcases and fountain pens, Juan Carlos and Iraida were welcomed by Senator Sandy Papas at Saint Paul´s Senate. How was the Minnesota experience?
A: "We attended the Havana Film Festival in New York and the Latino Film Festival in Chicago as representatives of Cuba, with the film El premio flaco. Then, we got to Saint Paul and all of a sudden we turned into culture ambassadors. It was a great surprise. We received a special treatment and thousands of signs of love for the Island. The most important thing was observing sincere interest in the strengthening of bilateral communication between Cuban and the United States. It's important to mention that Minnesota is one of the most committed states to the campaigns urging the lifting of the economic "embargo" against Cuba, Cremata Malberti said.
Q: At his home's balcony, close to the Havana seafront drive, he also spoke about the current efforts aimed at increasing cultural links between both countries.
A: "The lack of communication that marked this atmosphere over the past past years has changed even in Miami, which is a symbol of hostile opposition against Cuba. Now, many youngsters are trying to foster a real dialogue as there are enough reasons to share. Cuban artists travel to the USA more easily and take part in events and cooperation initiatives. It would be wonderful if the same thing happened from the other side; that the Americans and the Cubans living in that country could travel to Cuba without restrictions to keep enriching ourselves with this cultural exchange. Restrictions just split up people. Art doesn't know barriers and even less borders; it's universal".
Q: Not only American Senators as Amy Klobuchar, a good friend of the Cuban people, and Mike Enzi (Wyoming), who's also in favor of Americans traveling to Cuba and against the economic embargo, can have an influence on rapprochement. Do you think intellectuals and artists play a leading role?
A: "Intellectuals and creators have a social mission defined by their own daily work. Their daily performance influences the clarification of issues which are in everyone's interest. Tomás Gutiérez Alea, Titón, said, and I paraphrase him every time I can: a film doesn't change reality but the people's way of thinking, and they are the ones than change reality. Intellectuals present their ideas. They can and must get involved in raising awareness, in the statement and in solutions of essential issues. We must alert, prompt, talk, exchange, cultivate, favor, dispute, change, praise, respect or offend. Definitely, we are to create and creation is the basis of life, don't you think?"
Q: When the Americans ask you about Cuba and the Cubans, what do you tell them?
A: "I tell them to come to Cuba and see the reality by themselves. That they will find much love because that's the way Cubans express themselves: they are big-hearted and passionate; they can also find many ugly things; it all depends on what they are really looking for. There are those who look for the paradise and find heaven and those who are painted a chaos and finish living here for ever. In my words and my way of acting, I always try to give and show the deep love I feel for this island I adore, where I suffer, I enjoy myself, I criticize and which also defend".
Yanelis Abreu www.cubanow.net
Translated by Yanely Interian