Towards the end of the afternoon, we visited Dr. Jorge Fornet in his house for an extremely insightful interview on censorship. In fact, we were introduced to several other films that were censored by ICAIC and to different types of censorship, such as the creation of a systemic critique around a work as was done for a film titled Alicia en el Pueblo de las Maravillas. The first thing I noted was that as a highly educated individual Fornet does not live in drastically better nor worse conditions in comparison to the average Cuban in Havana. I’m comparing this to the Casa Yoamis, which I consider to be an example of a high standard of living in Habana and to the exterior of buildings I’ve seen while in Habana.
When we called Jorge from the Casa de las Americas, he explained he was actually at his home, and thought we would have received his email informing of this location change. We hadn’t received the email because of the difficulty to access the Internet. We walked to Jorge’s home and interviewed him on his outdoor porch. He said that the rise of censorship arose from tensions between the government and intellectuals during the revolution. Apolitical films like PM were censored just because there was a fight for power between ICAIC and artists and the government sought to institutionalize culture. The government defined culture rather than the people. When I asked Jorge about how much freedom of speech is valued here, he responded that other preoccupations such as house and food supercede the demand for freedom of expression.
Jorge was an interesting character. We asked him a broad question to start out — “how did you start researching censorship?” — and his answer lasted 25 minutes. He went on a tangent about different forms of censorship for different mediums, he gave various examples of movies, and he walked us through the history of censorship post-revolution. We were able to ask some more questions regarding censorship such as why P.M. and Santa y Andres were/are censored, and he said that there is no good reason. Something interesting he said was that there is no office for ICAIC. It is an anonymous, intangible group that decides what media to censor or not. Personally, I would be frustrated as a citizen because it seems that a lot of the political workings here have no concrete reasons. The reasons for censorship and the prohibition of killing cattle alike are not understood by the general public. However, they accept it, or have to accept it, and carry on. In the United States, this would not fly. People would demand information and reasoning behind such strong government involvement.