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Art and politics are interlinked. In fact, they often influence each other. The key variable in separating political art from ideological propaganda is the element of freedom in the case of a free society or the adverse risk of free expression in despotic regimes. Lilo Vilaplana, an award-winning Cuban-born television director and screenwriter, has had a successful career living in exile.
In Colombia, Vilaplana directed, among many other meritorious works, the television series El Capo, which earned him, in 2010, the Indias Catalina Award for best director. However, it has been in Miami, the capital of the Cuban nation in exile, where, by his own admission, he has done his best work.
First, directing the Legends of Exile, an epic series that brought to the television screen the lives of many prominent Cuban freedom fighters and historical figures of the war of liberation waged by Cuban exiles against the Castro-Communist dictatorship throughout more than six decades of Marxist tyranny, Vilaplana set a standard of excellence and rendered a great service to the purposes of historic preservation. This original project of Miami-based WJAN-CD America Tevé (Channel 41) has been widely applauded for its unique and factual characterization of heroic episodes in Cuba‘s struggle for freedom.
We discussed Vilaplana’s upcoming film, Plantados. This important work brings to the movie set the drama of the life of a group of political prisoners “plantados” in Castro’s prisons. The categorization as plantados [will not move, “planted” in their convictions] was the name given to a group of brave prisoners who refused to do any work in favor of the Castro regime while in captivity, and were also unwilling to wear the uniform of a common prisoner or participate in any program sponsored by their Communist captors.
This exclusive and decorated group of Cuba’s vast population of political prisoners suffered horrific tortures and were subjected to a bestial and subhuman existence. The film captures this and much more.
This month the film is being released. Having had the opportunity to visit the set during the filming of the movie, I can attest to its shocking character, its historical authenticity, and the impressive quality of the film’s direction and production. No one should miss it!
This interview, part of El American‘s series of short interviews, opens the film’s set and allows the audience to visit the experience of Cuba’s freedom fighters and political prisoners, as well as director Lilo Vilaplana’s vision of cinema and the contribution of political films and documentaries to the cause of freedom and the preservation of historical memory.
Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.