The Communist movement was not the only thing happening in Cuba during the ‘60s. At the same time, the film industry was just beginning. Cuba’s most famous film, “Memorias del Subdesarollo,” translated as “Memories of Underdevelopment,” was a reflection of the daily life of a Cuban citizen that stayed behind during the Cuban Revolution.
42 years later, filmmaker Miguel Coyula directed the sequel “Memorias del Desarollo,” translated as “Memories of Overdevelopment.” This movie reflects the life of Cubans who fled to America during the Cuban Revolution.
For a film industry that only began in 1968, it continues to grow in the present day. This is what Coyula wanted students to understand when he visited Oswego State on March 3.
Coyula and actress Lynn Cruz visited Oswego State in pursuit of teaching American students the directing and acting styles of Cuba. Coyula and Cruz each hosted two individual events. Both of Coyula’s events were screenings of two of his films, while Cruz hosted directing and acting workshops.
The day began with Cruz hosting a directing workshop. When watching Coyula’s movies, audiences noticed many layers attached to scenes as if it was a stop-motion film using parts of magazines. It is phenomenal how creative Coyula is. Cruz explained how Coyula was able to complete these visual effects using Adobe After Effects. The audience was shocked at how Coyula could change a scene completely in post-production.
After this event, Coyula and Cruz separated for their individual events. Coyula went to Park Hall to screen his latest movie “Nadie,” translated as “No one,” and Cruz stayed in Tyler Hall for her second workshop that concentrated on acting.
Rafael Alcides is a famous Cuban writer who was unable to post his work in Cuba due to Fidel Castro’s regime. In “Nadie” Alcides was finally able to open up to the world about the experiences he lived through during the revolution. What made “Nadie” famous was that non Cubans were finally able to learn what life was like in this dark period of the country.
With the help of Adobe After Effects, Coyula made this documentary more than just a sit-down interview. He added images that portrayed Alcides’ experience and added references from big-name movies. Students and faculty were impressed with this event. A Q&A session was hosted after the screening.
As for Cruz, her second workshop focused on the differences between acting in theatre and acting in movies.
“Whether it’s for theatre or movies, an actor must enter a zone where they can ‘be’ the character they are portraying,’” Cruz said. “Directors must get to know their actors, not really on the personal level, but on the work ethics. It makes a movie better.”
The last event of the day was Coyula’s screening of his 2010 award-winning film “Memorias del Desarollo.”
Oswego State cinema and screen studies professor Bennet Schaber screened “Memorias del Subdesarollo” to prep students ahead of the screening of its sequel.
While not as political as “Nadie,” this movie had an actual story to it. A Cuban-American professor tries to find purpose in America. He sets out to different parts of the nation to find that purpose.
This movie was created so it could be compared to its prequel, “Memorias del Subdesarollo.” The point of view of a Cuban who stayed in Cuba during the revolution and the point-of-view of a Cuban who fled to the United States during the revolution.
After the movie, Coyula showed the audience more of the post-production editing using Adobe After Effects.
Coyula gave the audience a snippet of his upcoming movie, “Blue Heart,” which is his first sci-fi film since his thesis project in film school. Ironically, his thesis film was received as the worst of all the movies in school, but it won him several awards that got him a scholarship in the U.S.
During the screening of “Memorias del Desarollo,” Cruz said she enjoyed working with Coyula.
“To work with Miguel is great,” Cruz said. “I don’t only work as an actress, but also behind the camera and I’ve discovered that acting is more difficult.”
Miguel explained how the westernization of Cuba is changing the film industry.
“Independent filmmakers want to use finance from their pocket and companies which ruins the purpose of the film industry which is to work independently and out of the main stream,” Coyula said.