Jessica Burgess, Diana Montero

Jessica Burgess  and Diana Montero

Abstract:

Por Amor al Arte

“Por Amor al Arte”, or, “for the love of art” was a common response when asked why these young filmmakers decided to dedicate their lives to filmmaking. Regardless of the significant constraints they experience while attempting to create film in Cuba, it was clear that they continue to invent new ways to produce film outside of the institute-run film industry.

The group of filmmakers I interviewed were a collaborative, creative and passionate group of people who do not profit from their work. So why do they do it? Based on my preliminary findings I have discovered that they have built up a tight knit community of young filmmakers who work together providing favours to one another. This lending-and-sharing network allows them to work with little to no money when making films, most of which are shorts. Through my research, I aim to show how they navigate their creative process within significant material constraints like lack of funding, limited access to Internet and the inability to establish themselves as legally recognized film production entities outside of the state-run film institute. Furthermore, I will address how they reconcile such constraints with their aspirations to create something that could be consumed widely or made accessible to wider audiences through distribution – a commercial film processes that is not entirely available to them.

For the purpose of this presentation, I would like to invite Diana Montero, a young Cuban filmmaker I interviewed who is currently living in Ottawa for six months on an exchange program, to show her film, a short documentary made in rural Oriente, Cuba. Afterwards we will discuss her aspirations for the future of this documentary, and if and how this has been influenced by the challenges she has faced.

This presentation also acts as another avenue for Diana to represent her work, herself. In this way I can start to use my privilege, as a Canadian student who was provided funding to pursue my interests and work abroad to attempt to give attention to some of these initiatives that are marginalized in mass media. Through facilitating this discussion on my research I would like to extend the opportunity to Diana to share one of her stories and through this collaborative process bring further awareness to the possibilities of future Canadian-Cuban connections in film.

Bio:

I am a second year MA student in the Cultural Studies program. I completed my undergraduate degree in Film and Media and have now through this MA program been able to expand and develop my research interests in Cuban film. I have just returned from my second trip to Cuba where I was conducting fieldwork. I was working in Havana, where I was able to connect with young filmmakers from all over the country and begin to understand the work they were doing. During my time in Cuba I was able to put into practice a combination of ethnographic research methods to help me explore answers to my research questions. Throughout my time in Cuba whether I was filming my interviews, attending film festivals or participating on-set I began to understand how everyone involved was working towards getting their stories seen and heard.

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