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We've shot a feature film in Cuba, defying all odds, to reveal an island and a lost American on the verge of revolutionary change.
285 backers pledged $54,521 to help bring this project to life.

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$54,521

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A feature film born in a hurricane

Back in 2012, on the day Hurricane Sandy roared into New York, our filmmaking team battled the elements for hundreds of miles to find an open airport. Defying reason and naysayers, we landed in Havana and shot our feature film, "Forbidden Cuba," on location across the island in the span of three intense weeks. We captured a bold and humorous story, ahead of the diplomatic curve, in the streets, in homes and businesses. With just a small group of American and French filmmakers, we clandestinely incorporated the vibrancy and beauty of Cuba and its people into a film that's equal parts “Local Hero” and “Heart of Darkness.”

Join our team and help fund the final stage of editing to finish this timely film.

"He was looking for a promotion, and he got a revolution."

"Forbidden Cuba" is a dramatic comedy. It follows Gil Bigelow, an American middle manager sent by bosses on a covert mission to Cuba to find a missing executive and plant the seeds for future business expansion. On arrival, Gil quickly gets swallowed in the unknowns of Havana. Traveling deeper into the island, he's stripped of his routines, digital gadgets and bearings - until he's forced to navigate in a new world that challenges everything he's known.

So what got into my head?

I've been fascinated by Cuba, its culture and history with the United States ever since I was a boy. Growing up, I found real connection through Cuban-born friends, their families and the stories they'd tell. In my mind, Cuba was vividly alive but completely out of reach. It was taboo, off the radar, forbidden. It begged to be experienced and explored.

Guerilla filmmaking that would make Che proud

Traveling in Cuba, completely off the grid, my team and I filmed a country of incredible beauty, new possibilities, and striking contradictions. We wanted to make a film that takes narrative storytelling and collides it with documentary filmmaking, where fictional characters and scripted story lines intersect with real people and unexpected events, all to create something evocative. It was tough-going at times - true "run and gun" filmmaking that tested us all at every turn. We can show you the gray hair. We live to tell.

Bridging the gulf between the people of Cuba and U.S. - the time is now

Cuba is only 90 miles off the coast of the United States - and yet it’s really a universe away. The team and I have been working for three years on this film to help bridge this gulf – to engage and connect the people of Cuba and the U.S. – people to people – as artists, through cinema, humor, and a growing discussion that can break down misunderstandings and build new ties. 

We stand at a critical juncture as the U.S. re-visits its relationship with Cuba. The people of the U.S. and Cuba have the very real possibility for a new future - and how we choose to walk that path together means everything.

Join our march to the finish - help fund post-production

We've come so far. We're oh so close. All footage is shot, and we’ve done a rough edit of all scenes. I’m asking you to march with us on the final push into “Forbidden Cuba” - help us fund the final stage of post-production. We need to tackle intense weeks of editing to pare down, shape and fine-tune the project. Your support is essential to help fund:

  • Editing - six weeks using two editors to complete a fine cut. 
  • ADR - re-record and replace dialogue in several sections. 
  • Creation of film titles and end credits. 
  • Creation of graphics inserted throughout film. 
  • Color correction - eight days. 
  • Music soundtrack. 
  • Sound design & final mix - four weeks.

The timeline is now

We need to complete “Forbidden Cuba” by late July 2015 in time for important film festival deadlines, including fast-approaching dates for Sundance and Berlin. By reaching audiences at key U.S. and international events, we want to build a path to wider distribution and greater outreach.

MEET OUR CORE TEAM

ART JONES - Writer / Director / Head Producer  

Art Jones is a veteran filmmaker who heads Great Jones Productions in New York, making films that make change since 1991. As writer, director and producer, Art champions a “not a movie, but a movement” approach that fuses filmmaking with grassroots community-building to spur wider reach and social action. His narrative films, "Dodgeball" (1995), "Going Nomad" (1998) and "Lustre" (2004) have played on HBO and PBS, in theaters, and in small communities across America. Jones’ recent documentary, "The Blood in this Town," focuses on Rutland, Vermont, a struggling blue-collar town now rallying to revitalize itself. Through national outreach, Jones has shared Rutland’s revitalization know-how with hundreds of other hard-hit towns and cities.

Art graduated from Brown, serves as Adjunct Professor of Film at Hunter College / City University of New York and was nominated for the Independent Spirit / John Cassavetes Award. 

RAPHAEL DUVERNAY - Co-Director of Photography / Producer

Born in the French Alps, Raphael left for Paris to pursue a career in filmmaking. He met sound engineer Corentin Vinçon at the prestigious film school, ESRA (Ecole Supérieure de Réalisation Audiovisuelle), and since then, the two friends have collaborated on numerous film projects, music videos, documentaries and corporate films. In 2000, Raphael served as location manager for an American crew filming in Paris, and met Art Jones. One year later, Art assisted Raphael and his French team on “Trip,” Duvernay’s first short film, shot on location in NYC. Since then, Raphael has kept busy both as a director of photography and director. His passion for filming is only rivaled by his appetite for new adventures, whether it's a music video shot in Beirut for an Iraqi rock band, a documentary in Haiti or his latest short, “Auberge,” filmed in rural France. The collaboration between Raphael and Art has also continued over the years. Three years ago, Art pitched the concept for “Forbidden Cuba” to Raphael as "not a film but an experience." Raphael enthusiastically came onboard as both producer and director of photography for this exciting project.

CORENTIN VINÇON - Sound Engineer / Producer

Born a pure concrete-loving Parisian, Corentin grew up in a family of artists, feeding his passion for radio, film and travel. He befriended filmmaker Raphael Duvernay during their time at the prestigious film school, ESRA (Ecole Supérieure de Réalisation Audiovisuelle), and both partner frequently on a variety of projects that offer Corentin both technical challenges and distinct human perspectives. In pursuit of these two guiding principles, Corentin has dragged his sound gear from one end of the globe to the other, from the jungle islands of the South Pacific to the dry heights of Kabul, working on documentaries, narrative projects, and the occasional setting-up of a radio station. Corentin served as the sound engineer for Duvernay’s first short film, "Trip." and most recent short, “Auberge.” With the promise of recoding challenges and wild adventure, Corentin joined Art Jones’ crew for “Forbidden Cuba” and continues to serve as a core member of the producing team.

JOE FOLEY - Co-Director of Photography / Producer

Joe Foley has been working in film for two decades and has shot 15 features. Filmmaking has taken him all over the world from Morocco, Helsinki, Singapore, Cambodia, and Bali to Paris and South Pasadena. Even though he has shot music videos in Ghana, television in Seoul and corporate videos in Shanghai, he found no location as exotic or as captivating as Cuba. The colors and designs there are magical and the people are incredibly warm and inviting. Working with the international team on “Forbidden Cuba” was a dream come true (if your idea of a dream is to shoot for 19 days straight and eat grilled lobster every other night). It was an amazing experience that continues to give, as the producing team works to craft a final dynamic film.

MATTHEW GORDON - Filmmaker / Actor

Born in Baltimore, Matthew graduated from Middlebury and taught in Eastern Europe before directing his first feature documentary, "Novi Sad" about the youth culture of Serbia during the Bosnian War. In 2005, he graduated from the directing program at the American Film Institute. He has worked in film and television for 18 years - the majority of which has focused on making documentaries for television on topics ranging from international politics to resident doctors to police dramas. His credits include field producer for "The First 48," "Dallas Swat" and "Resident Life." Matthew’s first narrative feature as director, "The Dynamiter" (2011) screened at major festivals including the Berlin International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film Festival, and won Best First Feature at the Durban Film Festival and the Jury Prize at the Deauville Film Festival.

NOAH WEHLE - Editor

Based out of Brooklyn, Noah is a multi-talented creative with a keen eye for detail and a strong sense of story. His background in music and composition informs his video-editing style—both rhythmically and tonally. Noah has been brought on as editor for a wide array of projects ranging from TV shows, to music videos, documentaries, web series, and branded content. Over the last several years his work can be seen on The History Chanel, A&E, Bravo, and across the internet. When not cutting away in the edit room, Noah can be found writing music with his band, biking around the city, or traveling far away lands.

Risks and challenges

The most challenging part of our "Forbidden Cuba" journey is behind us. The edit room we now inhabit (with all the footage, sound and fury) is safe, secure, and monitored by a fire marshall at all times. During production, though, we took our risks and our lumps - from lengthy border interrogations and confiscated film gear to hurricane-force winds and tornado-like setbacks. We've survived and we're here to move the mission forward. With your help in the final stages of editing, we can do it.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    ¡Muchisimas gracias! We'll thank you wholeheartedly - in person when we see you - and by proudly placing your name in the closing credits as a key supporter in this effort.

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    Pledge US$ 20 or more About US$ 20

    THE SOUNDS OF CUBA. You'll experience Ambient Cuba, a collection of select audio tracks we recorded in the streets and in the countryside. Give a listen, close your eyes and you are there, via streaming link.
    You'll also receive wholehearted thanks in the credits - and your choice of handshake or hug when we see you!

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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    THE SOUNDTRACK. You'll be the first to hear the "Forbidden Cuba" soundtrack before it's released via a streaming link - to include great moments from the original score and vintage Cuban classics.
    Includes Ambient Cuba audio tracks and optional hug or handshake when we meet.
    You'll also receive wholehearted thanks in the credits.

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    You'll be invited to the ADVANCE SCREENING of "Forbidden Cuba" and Q&A with filmmakers, available crew & cast - ONE in New York, ONE in Paris. We'll preview the final cut of the movie with you before it’s released.
    Ambient Cuba and Soundtrack, as previously described, included.
    You'll also receive our deep thanks and ongoing gratitude for joining the effort.

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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    Wear it with pride ! Your choice (one) of the LIMITED EDITION "Forbidden Cuba" cast-and-crew-only COFFEE MUG, BASEBALL CAP or T-SHIRT.
    Includes the Advance Screening and choice of rewards in previous categories.

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    You'll receive one copy of the LIMITED EDITION "Forbidden Cuba" BOOK of PHOTOGRAPHY, featuring the stunning images of filmmaker Raphael Duvernay captured in travels across Cuba.
    You'll receive a special (and coveted) "PYTHON WRANGLER" credit in the closing of the film.
    Includes the Advance Screening plus a choice of rewards from previous categories.

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    You'll receive a "BEST BOY" (or "Best Girl") credit.
    You'll receive induction into the Forbidden Cuba Guard of Honor.
    You'll be invited to the "Forbidden Cuba Guard of Honor" Evening Soiree - with the film's producers, cast and crew for a special pre-release event, to be held at a reputable establishment - ONE in New York, ONE in Paris.
    Includes a choice of rewards from previous categories.

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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    You'll receive an "ASSOCIATE PRODUCER" credit.
    You'll receive a SPECIAL GUIDED TOUR of the film's New York locations, where key scenes were captured for the movie's opening and close - led with spirit by director Art Jones (local refreshments provided along the way).
    You'll be our guest at the fore-mentioned "Guard of Honor" Evening Soiree.
    You'll also receive the limited edition "Forbidden Cuba" Book of Photography by Raphael Duvernay and a choice of rewards described in previous categories.

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    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About US$ 5,000

    You'll receive an "EXECUTIVE PRODUCER" credit.
    You'll be our special guest at the "Executive Producer's Noche de Oro Dinner" at the celebrated Victor's Cafe in New York ("The forefront of Cuban Cuisine in America") with director Art Jones, producers and other heavyweights.
    You'll also receive the limited edition "Forbidden Cuba" Book of Photography by Raphael Duvernay and a choice of rewards described in previous categories.

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Funding period

- (29 days)