In the Middle

March 18, 2010

We are in the exact middle of the island. We are also in the middle of our shooting schedule. In Placetas, two young party officials stop Ricardo while he is shooting in the street to demand explanations and inquire about permits. They are cute and seem to enjoy exercising their power. We provide good-enough explanations and they take off on a motorbike. In the bay of Caibarien we shoot a military boat without knowing this is a navy vehicle, no apparent military signs on this vessel – how could we know? An official in olive green overalls approaches us with an unfriendly disposition. The PA talks on the phone with the high-rank navy officer and the conversation ends well – problem solved, he wishes us a good stay in Caibarien.

The quick resolution of these small incidents is the product of hard and long work in the preceding months. But we never got an official permit to shoot and we remain at all times uncertain about our ability to complete the shooting plan. What we got was a support letter from our co-producing partners, Asociación Cubana del Audiovisual, an organization of film and video professionals in Cuba. The letter, that we keep preciously inside a plastic protective cover, states that the Ideological Committee of the Cuban Communist Party knows about and approves the project. I even know the name of the man in charge there, as well as his second and third officers. As a foreigner, I could not meet or talk directly to any of them but saying their names indicates that I am in good standing and can quickly dissipate problems that would otherwise grow into big ordeals. This ad hoc process that we have going on here is frail and uncertain …. We also sent letters to the local party structures, television centers and associations of war veterans. And we have the names and phone numbers of each one of them.  Major delays can result from overlooking local bureaucrats and we made sure to cover this front. So far, this seems to be working.

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