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Zone of Silence/Zona de Silencio  cover photo

Zone of Silence/Zona de Silencio 2007

Recommended with reservations

Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced n/a
Directed by Karel Ducasse
DVD, color, 88 min.

General Adult
Art, Censorship, Humanities, Journalism, Latin Americans, Social Sciences

Date Entered: 11/14/2014

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Around the world, in democracies and dictatorships alike, artists face numerous challenges to the free expression of ideas. Censorship is one way that governments institutionalize zones of silence around creative and critical work, effectively erasing it from public view. In authoritarian regimes, this zone is both a constant threat and a daily reality as is shown by Cuban filmmaker Ducasse in this short documentary.

Fernando Perez is a filmmaker, Fran Delgado a musician, Gustavo Arcos a film historian and critic, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez a poet and journalist, and Antón Arrufat is a writer. Filmed in 2007, each of the five men interviewed in the film eloquently discuss what working as an artist in Cuba means, both historically and currently. During the 1960s and 1970s, censorship was overt – artists were given guidelines or parameters under which they could create. Similarly, pre-revolutionary writers, painters, and musicians were treated with suspicion. Later, control became more covert and according to these artists, more difficult. Instead of art by decree and outright restrictions, artistic works simply disappeared.

Archival photographs and footage as well as clips from Cuban television and movie broadcasts are interspersed with the interviews. There are several technical issues with the film, including uneven editing, difficult-to-read subtitles and intentionally murky photography. Despite these problems, the film is an important primary source document for anyone working in area studies or the arts. Recommended with reservations.