Film on Cuba’s gay intolerance pulled from Havana festival

HAVANA, Dec. 8th (AFP) – Drama spilled beyond movie plotlines and into real life Thursday at the opening of a Latin American film festival in Havana, where the authorities haveexcluded a movie touching on Cuba’s intolerance toward gays under Fidel Castro.

They barred “Santa et Andres,” 33-year-old Cuban Carlos Lechuga’s second full-length feature, from the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana due to a “question of principle,” Cuban film official Roberto Simth said.

“The film presents an image of the revolution that reduces it to an expression of intolerance and violence against culture and makes irresponsible use of our patriotic symbols and unacceptable references toward comrade Fidel,” Smith — director of the all-powerful Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) — said in a statement.

The former Cuban leader and revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died last month.

The movie’s fictitious plotline was inspired by the lives of Cuban poet Delfin Prats and other gay intellectuals such as Virgilio Pinera, who were banned from publishing and displaying their work on the island during a five-year period from 1971-1976.

The film’s exclusion provoked debate on social networks, where Smith and Culture Vice-Minister Fernando Rojas exchanged heated words with Lechuga and his supporters.

Lechuga, who defended his work calling himself a “patriot who lives and works in Cuba,” declined to speak to AFP until after the festival’s end.

The competition opened Thursday with the screening of “The Illustrious Citizen” (“El Cuidadano ilustre”) by Argentine directors Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn Damian Szifron, whose film will compete against 17 others for the Grand Coral first prize.

Invitees include the American directors Oliver Stone, who will present his latest film, “Snowden,” and Brian de Palma, organizers said.

Traditionally stigmatized in Cuba, homosexuality was fiercely repressed for many years under the communist regime, which interned gays in work camps in the 1960s and ostracized them in the 1970s.