We are honored and humbled to be able to tell these stories. Filmmaking always takes a village, and you are a vital part of ours.
For those who are new to our page, read on. We hope you'll join us in bringing you stories of Cuba's cultural vanguard.
Rum. Jazz. Vintage Cars. Island paradise or island prison? We read about the shortages, the lack of opportunities, the expected regime change and potentially lucrative business deals, the tourist invasion and the Cuban exodus. Lost is the remarkable tension felt across the country between widespread revolutionary ideals of equality and the alluring opportunities of capitalism. Where is the Cuban point of view? This is the genesis of (R)EVOLUTION CUBA—six short films tracking the experience of Cuban artists navigating their country’s evolution.
Why focus on artists? Unlike countries where art is a fringe activity, art is central to Cuba's national identity. The small island of 12 million people has outsized influence in dance and music around the world. At the cultural vanguard in any country, artists are some of Cuba's most salient ambassadors, with a history of crossing divides created by the 50+ year embargo. To bring currency into an ailing economy, Cuban artists have been among the first to have opportunities to travel, to sell and perform their work, and for some, to push the limits of free expression. Our characters are unique, dynamic, and visually compelling. Their stories open a window onto a Cuba seldom seen in the USA.
We’ve had the privilege of multiple visits to Cuba over the past year. Ken showed our last documentary feature, HAVANA CURVEBALL, at the Havana International Film Festival on December 17, 2014, the very day Obama and Raúl Castro made their surprise announcement that the USA and Cuba would move towards normalizing their relationship. Ken has traveled there four times since then, touring the island with our film and shooting our new short, WHEEL OF LIFE/La Rueda de la Vida.
We have engaged with our audiences, made close friends, and heard stories that are nowhere to be found in American media. We want to share these with you.
WHAT WE NEED
Nearly 300 backers helped us reach our Kickstarter goal to fund the first film in the series and then some. We are actively seeking donors and allies to produce the entire series and make sure these stories of Cuban artists get the attention they deserve.
With Cuba all the mainstream media buzz --Obama's visit, talk of finally closing GITMO, the first ever Rolling Stones concert on the island, a Major League baseball game in Havana, the migrant crisis—the sooner we roll out these nuanced stories told from a Cuban point of view, the better.
Here's how we'll spend funds raised through this campaign:
Your support on Kickstarter will enable us to to travel to Cuba this spring to finish filming and editing Ivan's story, and lay the ground work for the remaining episodes of the series. We work with a fantastic Cuban crew, and plan to do our color correction and sound mix in Havana for the first time. We will be back with a new film to share with you early in the summer!
Through the good graces of our fiscal sponsor, the Center for Independent Documentary, all contributions are TAX DEDUCTIBLE, and we have some pretty cool rewards—many generously donated by supporters who value our work.
Ken Schneider (director/producer/editor) is a Peabody-winning producer who believes in the power of documentaries to move people. His passions are stories of war and peace, human rights, artists’ lives, and Cuba. In addition to his feature and short work for PatchWorks, Ken has edited over 35 feature length documentaries for PBS, HBO, Al-Jazeera, and others. Films he edited have been nominated for an Oscar and multiple Emmys, and won prime-time and documentary Emmys, a Columbia-Dupont, two Peabodys, an Indie Spirit award and top awards at the Sundance Film Festival. (See www.kenschneidereditor.net for details.)
In addition to her PatchWorks work, Marcia Jarmel (co-director/producer/writer) worked as consulting producer on HBO’s Emmy-nominated "50 Children," consultant to Academy Award nominee "Last Day of Freedom," and IFP Mentor to "The Last Season." Other credits include co-editing the Academy-award nominee,"For Better or For Worse," and assistant producing the Academy Award nominees, "Berkeley in the Sixties" and "Freedom on My Mind." She is also an impact consultant for documentary filmmakers.
We are PatchWorks Films (www.patchworksfilms.net). For more than 20 years we have created award-winning documentaries exploring contemporary social issues through intimate character stories that build innovative partnerships for strategic use with organizations and educators. Our films have broadcast worldwide and shown at museums, libraries, schools, universities, community centers, conferences, and film festivals. Our previous documentary features include: THE RETURN OF SARAH’S DAUGHTERS, BORN IN THE USA, SPEAKING IN TONGUES, and HAVANA CURVEBALL. (R)EVOLUTION CUBA is PatchWorks' 8th collaboration.
In Cuba we work with a fabulous experienced crew that includes Cuba’s pre-eminent documentary cinematographer, Roberto Chile, veteran sound man, Javier Figueroa, and one of Cuba’s hottest jazz pianists, Harold López-Nussa, who is composing music for the series.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You are an essential partner in the filmmaking practice. Here are ways you can help us support and build audience for these Cuban stories.
- Back us at any level. Every contribution gets us closer to our goal and builds momentum for the project.
- Share this page with your social network. We're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and we are writing a blog where we tell stories, share anecdotes, and even some footage from the project's journey.
- Help us broaden our network. Forward our email to a handful of friends and let them know why you are backing the project. Introduce us to a friend who is a patron of the arts, has a family foundation, writes for a relevant blog or publication, or works at a related organization.
- Host a house party. Invite a few friends over for mojitos to screen a sneak preview of WHEEL OF LIFE and watch our Kickstarter trailer. We'll join you, if we can, or Skype in for a Q & A if we can't. Email email@example.com for details.
A family story originally brought us to Cuba. Ken’s dad was given refuge there as a child during WWII before the USA opened its doors to him. The story of HAVANA CURVEBALL, our first Cuban film, follows our son’s circuitous efforts to thank Cuba by sending baseball gear to kids who share his love of the game. We had a remarkable experience there and returned to share the film last spring. In all honestly, we were concerned how Cubans would respond to this story of an idealistic young middle class boy from the U.S. with a perhaps naïve idea about how he might help. What we found instead were open hearts, open minds, and a door opening to real friendships with a broad range of Cubans.
After the diplomatic shift in December 2014, things began to change. More tourists. More money. The internet arrived last summer. There was a palpable sense of possibility there, yet back home we hear about business opportunities and the same 50-year-old debate about the best way to foster regime change. The Cubans we met are deeply proud of their values, their artistic achievements, their way of life. They want change—and self-determination.
Our Cuban friends have generously shared their stories with us and we are committed to bringing them to you. We bring 20 years experience making and distributing films to the task. We invite you to join us in building more understanding between Cuba and the world outside.
Risks and challenges
Make no mistake - every film project is a feat of endurance. We know that from experience and are passionate and determined. We are fortunate to have a terrific Cuban crew, a dedicated support network, and 20+ years of experience meeting production challenges head on.
The shadow of nearly 60 years of USA-Cuba acrimony precedes us. We have heard stories of mistrust of American film and music producers, who have taken from Cuban culture and given nothing in return. This is a violation of our core values. We have built strong friendships and creative collaborations, forged in seven trips to the island. Working closely with our characters to portray their authentic experience is critical to us. It deepens the inquiry and fine tunes the story. Authenticity in storytelling is fundamental to our work.
Even though Ken's Spanish is excellent, we know that a misunderstanding can sever a relationship. Our translator, Ernesto, is a multilingual professor at the University of Havana. He accompanies us to meetings and shoots, not just to translate the words, but to make sure we understand their underlying cultural meaning.
The U.S. embargo is still in place, and imposes limitations and inconveniences—travel requires advanced planning, money transactions are regulated. But we have consulted with attorneys and have been assured there are no issues with our plans.
Cuba has a very accomplished film culture of its own. Rarely do those films make it to the USA. (R)EVOLUTION CUBA can help bridge the divide by conveying thoughtful, insightful Cuban stories, expressed by Cuban voices.
We welcome your thoughts and questions. Please feel free to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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