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"The Forbidden Shore," an introduction to the world to forty Cuban artists

"The Forbidden Shore," an introduction to the world to forty Cuban artists

Posted by PanamericanWorld on April 03, 2017

If there is one film that can serve as a metaphor for how little the world knows about Cuba, Latin America, and the rest of the region, it's "The Forbidden Shore," a marvelous documentary that introduces the world to forty Cuban artists. 

It's one of thirty-seven films being shown at the Havana Film Festival New York,the longest running festival featuring the work of Cuban and Latin American filmmakers, now in its 18th year. 

The film's director, Canadian-born Ron Chapman, said that when he first visited Cuba eight years ago, "I was overwhelmed at what I didn't know. I was amazed at the diversity of its music and how very little Cuban music is known or played internationally other than The Buena Vista Social Club."

The same could be said of the rest of the region, but that has been changing, partly due to the work of today's Latino and Latina filmmakers, as evidenced in this festival. 

"We wanted to show a snapshot of the work that is being produced today," said Diana Vargas, the festival's artistic director for the past seventeen years. 

"Cinema coming out of the area is fresh and innovative and artists of the region are eager to tell stories that correct many misconceptions of Latin America," Vargas said. 

This year the festival is paying tribute to two film masters: Cuba's Juan Padrón, whose iconic Vampiros en la Habana (Vampires in Havana) is a hilariously funny animation classic that was produced decades before "Twilight," as well as the work of the late Argentine Eliseo Subiela, whose brilliant film, El Lado Oscuro del Corazón (The Dark Side of the Heart), paved the way for Argentina's film boom. 

In addition, twenty directors are traveling to New York to participate in talkbacks during the nine-day festival. 

We spoke to The Forbidden Shore's Ron Chapman about his film, which closes the festival on April 7. 

What inspired you to make this film?

I am a Canadian and we have an open relationship with Cuba that continued uninterrupted through and after the revolution in 1959, in spite of considerable pressure from the United States to join the embargo; more Canadian tourists visit Cuba every year than from any other destination in the world. 

In Cuba I learned about rumba to rap and everything in-between. I wanted to make a film that would be able to cross borders and restrictions imposed by the difficulty of travel and restrictions imposed by the US embargo. 

I made a film that helps to overcome some of the myths about Cuba and the Cuban people that showcases their great diversity of musical talent and shares with the unique creative collaborative relationship the artists have with each other and their unusual and very pure passion for art. [It's] the creative process that is uniquely not affected or informed by the necessity of creating for an international market or any market that requires making music or art for profit. I stopped shooting this film on the day Obama said publicly in his famous speech that it was time to end the embargo.

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