background

Background:

001The Cuban government has admitted having made mistakes in the past concerning the way that homosexuality was dealt with. But even though the government has been postulating a more liberal way of dealing with homosexuality, the confrontation with social discrimination and the arbitrariness of the police is part of everyday life for homosexuals in Cuba. However it is precisely the scene of gay int012ellectuals and artists that has recently developed an enormous dynamic force. Regarding the inflexible and immobile social system, this development is particularly striking. In the last few years we have created an image of Cuba in our minds, which is determined through successful films. This image is either romanticised („Buena Vista Social Club“ and its successors) or distorted by descriptions of the persecution of homosexuals in the 70’s and 80’s, which are transferrsed to the contemporary situation in Cuba (Julian Schnabel’s „Before Night Falls“ 010after the homonymous autobiographical novel by Reinaldo Arenas). Reinaldo Arenas is nowadays still hushed up, his books are not published. Nevertheless his books are meanwhile widely read throughout the world and also in Cuba he is not a stranger: his books form an inherent partof the so called „invisible library“ – thousands of prohibited books which are passed on underhand in the intellectual circle of Havana. Arena’s life, his fight as an openly gay living artist against the regime and its failure, form the reference points in a search for evidence together with five different homosexual men in present-day Havana.

Reinaldo Arenasmusic

The places:

In Cuba there is no gay scene after the Western example – not even in the city of Havana, which has 3 million inhabitants. If meeting places emerge nevertheless in the solely state-owned pubs and cafés, they are immediately 003closed by the government. Therefore there has emerged a system of clandestine and private meeting points which prevents the action on the part of the state, by changing the locations daily. Mainly the “fiestas particulares”, privately organised parties, play an important role: up to 300 people assemble in gardens of private villas in the suburbs of Havana to celebrate exuberant parties. In addition to this, there is of course the six-kilometres-long Malecón, the water front of Havana and its most important and central meeting point at night.

 

The camera:

The film presents the lives of the six different protagonists in documentary011 style and gives a glance at Havana’s gay life with interviews mostly as voiceovers. Besides this perspective of the protagonists, there is a directed perspective by the author with texts by Reinaldo Arenas and scenes with the musician Michael E. Rodríguez. This directed perspective stands in contrast to the documentary perspective and is mirrored time and again in order not to drift off into kitsch and cliché but at the same time to indicate precisely these clichés and this kitsch.

The production:

In 2004 the author made two journeys of investigation to Havana, and won the confidence of the protagonists. 013In September and October 2005 the filming was done on a Sony-DV-CAM. The result were 35 hours of raw film material. The post-production took place in summer 2006 in Wiesbaden, Germany. The film is a low-budget-production. 009All the people who were involved in the film renounced fees; the equipment companies renounced rental fees. There was no public or private sponsorship available. There will be a Spanish original version, as well as an English and a German version with subtitles and a German voice-over-version.