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Miguel Coyula photo: Rebecca Massey Communism because they are red and there just because I liked [the image of] red cockroaches. TO: What is the state of filmmaking these days in Cuba? MC: Well, the ICAIC \(Instituto Cubano which is the film industry, unfortunately is not making a lot of films now because there is no money. They release two or three features a year. And the problem that they have after Strawberry and Chocolate, [the foreign market] wants this kind of comedy that sort of shows the reality in Cuba, the problems, but in a funny way. But there have been some good films like Suite Habana lately. It’s an amazing film and it’s very sincere and honest. There’s also a film, Nada, by Juan Carlos Cremata, [screened in Austin at Cine Las Americas in 2003]. He’s from a new generation of filmmakers, and he has a whole new approach to filmmaking. TO: Does the government play any part in what you can and cannot show in your films? MC: No, as long as it’s not political. You don’t have any kind of trouble. I’m not interested in politics, so I’m fine. TO: What about the distribution of films in Cuba? Do your films get shown in many of the theaters there? MC: Well, I do work that is non-political, but is, like I say, weird science fiction. It gets exhibited. It’s not like 20 years ago when anything that was a little weird would be censored. Red Cockroaches was shown in Cuba in February and then [went] from theater to theater every week, which is great because the people can go see it. I don’t get a penny from itI do commercials for a livingbut it’s great. What I wanted to do was to share it with an audience. What I’ve seen here is that if you don’t make a film that has some kind of commercial appeal, you just don’t exist as an artist because the film doesn’t get exhibited except in a few film festivals that sort of promote that kind of work. Doing films in Cuba, maybe I don’t get a penny from that, but at least they get shown in major theaters, and most of them on TV as well. TO: I understand that Red Cockroaches will be part of a trilogy? MC: Well, I have this dream project that is called Ocean. It’s a novel that I wrote three years ago and Red Cockroaches serves as a prequel to that. It’s a drama that takes place in the future. Or you might call it an alternative reality where there are some elements that are kind of disjointed. Basically you can say it is a love story, a very dark triangle, which will doom the protagonist. I like to create a film that has many layers so that people can build up their own interpretation in their own way. TO: I hear you plan to go back to Cuba this summer to begin working on a big film project? MC: Yes, I’m working now on a screenplay for Memories of Development, which is the sequel to Memories of Underdevelopment I’m working with the writer, Edmundo Desnoes. It’s a big project. Yeah, it’s kind of scary, but I have to do it because I’m not going to miss this opportunity. The writer just finished the novel, and we get along very well so we’re going to go all the way througheven though critics and fans of the first movie will come after us like sharks. Memories of Development takes place both in Cuba and the U.S. and it’s the same character that comes to the U.S., which is a little bit like what happened to me. I can relate and I always loved the first film. I plan to shoot independently as well. I want to have freedom to shoot what I want, cause it’s such a big film. Memories of Underdevelopmentit’s Cuba’s best film, and I think that the Cuban film industry will be a little protective of that. But I want to have freedom and Edmundo Desnoes is also aware of that, so we want to have total control of the final product. We don’t want to make concessions of any kind. TO: So you plan to take a hiatus from science fiction on this project? MC: some surreal elements. We’ll see how it goes. Melissa Sattley frequently writes about Latin American culture. She lives in Austin. 7/16/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25