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Garcia's Lost City faces ban

AndyGarcia.jpgWe saw the unfinished trailer for Andy Garcia's movie The Lost City, which he wrote and directed, a little while ago, and I was fascinated, as I always am with his screen presence. Now the news is that some parts of South America are banning the film with some festival bosses and cinemas shying away from it.

The reason is given over at IMDB:

Garcia, who wrote, directed and stars in the film, says, "There have been festivals that wouldn't show it. That will continue to happen from people who don't want to see the image of Che be tarnished and from people who support the Castro regime. He still has a lot of supporters out there. Some people think Castro is a savior, that he looks out for the kids and the poor. It's a bunch of hogwash. In the 45 years since Castro came to power, Cuba has been in the top three countries for human rights abuses for 43 of those years. People turn a blind eye to his atrocities."

There seems to be a growing trend in big stars to actually use their position and the power of film to educate, we've seen it a lot with George Clooney, and now we're seeing it here with Garcia. You have to admire this honesty and the choice he's making, and it just makes me even more interested in this film. Mr Garcia, if you're listening, get it into Edinburgh Film Festival so that we could see it!



"There seems to be a growing trend in big stars to actually use their position and the power of film to educate" ... I take issue with someone’s personal politics being education; this sounds far more like retro propaganda to me.

I dislike the growing trend that see’s people taking fictional adaptations of recent history or history in general they see on film as fact. Nothing wrong with Garcia having his own views and using his position to make a film based on them if he can find the money to, but I strongly dislike the idea of film stars re-writing history and presenting it as fact.

And while I personally would hate to live under a communist regime or any other kind of autocracy, trying to pass Cuba off as the a top three human rights violator in a period that has seen Pol Pot, Sadam Hussein, Baby Doc, Milosevic and countless others smells strongly of shaping history to fit a political view to me. That’s not to say Castro is a wonderful guy I imagine he’s not, but come on.

And before anyone say’s it, it’s not a case of where I stand on the political divide I can’t stand this from either political perspective.

Garcia is Cuban and his family were apparently relatively bourgeois and well-off. That they suddenly lost this in the wake of the revolution when he was three years old and the family had to flee to Miami and start from scratch has, one presumes, coloured his particular view of the Castro regime (much as I suspect Ayn Rand's hysterical hatred of communism stems from her having been a child of privilege in Russia and then having lost it all after the revolution there). Not that he's necessarily wrong per se, just that we can hardly consider him an unbiased and objective commenter.

Whether or not the film constitutes "retro propaganda" is another question (and whose propaganda is it, Garcia's or Cabrera Infante's, who actually wrote the original book?), as does the issue of whether or not the film itself has been banned as such. Film festivals refusing to show a film is not the same as governments refusing to permit its screening, after all. Strikes me that he's just trying to whip up publicity for the film, and there's no publicity as effective as censorship, whether or not real censorship has taken place. By the sound of it, it'll be a hit among critics on the American political right...

"I take issue with someone’s personal politics being education" - who would make such films then? No one? Should we have no films that represent historical events because they may contain historical inaccuracies or the filmmakers views on a particular event?

Maybe a little bit off the subject(as in not related to politics, but definitely related to the film changing peoples views) But i have hated the Jaws films for the way the depict sharks to be nothing more than man eating machines, eating people left right and centre.....

and ask most people what scares them the most, its sharks. Don't dare put your toe in the water lest the man eating machine devour you. Facts are, more sharks get eaten in a day then people get attacked in a year.

My point is:
The general public DO believe a lot of what a film tells them and its up to the film to tell their side of the story without prejudice.

But then again, that doesn't sell does it. Real life is sometimes to boring to film so make stuff up instead. Most movie goers appreciate that, but do little to educate themselves further on a subject after watching a film.

Its much easier just to stuff your face full of junk food while accepting whats in front of you.

ok, a bit of rant. but there you go.

Take your point Pablo but to follow that philosophy we'd instantly take 95% of all films off the shelves.

It’s not the novel or the adaptation into a film I have issues with at all Richard; it’s the idea that the film is educational when it’s purely based on fictionalisation and the idea that some how this film will open people’s eyes to the truth. I for one don’t hear all this supposed praise for Castro and very few people actually know more about “Che” than he makes a cool T-shirt image.

More and more people are happy to have news and history tailored to their way of thinking, with little or no attempt to search for a balanced view. Far too many people watch these films and take them as fact and personally, propaganda (deliberate or not) in films like this makes me uncomfortable because of that.

Historical inaccuracies are fine as long as the film is presented as fictionalisation, and as in my comment above, some of Garcia’s statement you quoted sounds highly biased to me. I accept he is Cuban American with an axe to grind, but that only explains the bias, it does not make it correct.

Don’t get me wrong I am in no way supporting any ban of this film (If there really is a ban at festivals), just pointing out how I personally feel about this kind of retro-fit history in general, fine as entertainment that makes you think, not good if it’s presented as factual to push a political agenda.

I do get you Bullet, and I understand what you're saying, but every film provides education.

Coming from the learning arena we only 20% of what we learn comes formally, whereas the remaining 80% is informally from internet, TV, friends, conversations, reading, etc.

So we're gathering information from everything we engage with. So in effect I'm learning when I watch (although I never have) Michael Bay's Pearl Harbour, or U571, Syriana, or American Haunting.

Every one of these comes with a biased view, from that of the screenwriter to the director to the editor...so what do we do?

Is it up to Garcia to either present a totally unbiased view in his film or not make it, or is it up to others to present their interpretation of events in their film?

I guess the difficulty is making it right. We're never going to get a balanced or accurate view of anything from any medium.

I think it is better that these guys try and get some form of discussion into their movies rather than making more Oceans franchise movies. I do agree though, they should try and be balanced and accurate, but at the end of the day they are a group of individuals making the movie and everyone's biased in some way.

Interesting you mention U-571, as that was a case not so much of bias as historical revisionism (to be charitable), presenting as it did a military operation (the capture of the Enigma codebooks in WW2) performed by American troops that, in reality, had actually been carried out by British troops (in fact, one of the operations to capture the German codebooks took place well before the US was even involved in the war). That's going beyond interpretative bias into gross distortion of historical facts, and that's when the issue of how people view films like this and accept them as historically factual becomes deeply problematic.

Yeah, and the same goes for Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor (sic) etc.

I think this is an excellent idea for a future feature...

Oh, and I think we're all assuming that this film is or isn't factually and historically correct. I frankly don't know enough to judge.

Ok, thats fair actually.

I think what i meant to say(but typed something completely different), is that sometimes we are manipulated into BELIEVING things which are clearly untrue.

And yes i realise its just a movie and i shouldn't take this that seriously, but information that is clearly wrong or moulded to suit people makes me grumpy.

Probably why i prefer stupid car chase movies with pretty lead actors and lots of shooting. Could also explain why i am rubbish at trivial pursuit.

Man I loved your comments guys! Bring it on!

Here's my two pence:

Shouldnt films like these and others that are based on an actual events be taken, or should I say be viewed with a pinch of salt?

Maybe all films based on historical events should have a label like caveat emptor in the beginning the same way you have film classification ratings. The problem of inaccuracy is not just with films, but can we all actually believe in what any media available- tv, radio, newspapers, Internet really has to say? It doesnt mean thought there is nothing to believe, but surely we can use a little bit of discernment?

Rich, I agree, this will be a very good feature, start working on it soon! ;-)

Ok, from what I see, I am the only South American voice here, -from Venezuela- so here I go:

1) I saw the movie on cable, without any trouble. I saw w/o censorship the scenes featuring Che. I think the portrayal is not historical,(Che drinking and partying, while it is known that he was a teetotaler) but he´s free to do it, so ok.

2)From the type,or should i say "Quality" of the film, it is the type of films that goes straight to cable /or / video, nothing on the press appeared here, neither pro nor con. It was simply ignored. It was never released on cinemas. But, all the same, Benicio del Toro´s film on Che has not been released here neither.It has been ignored on the press just the same.Even thou Benicio came here specially to promote it, it has not been released.

3) 95% of DVD´s purchased here are illegaly burnt. I´ve seen the film offered on those places.

4) In this country, 89% of the people love Che guevara, but the press hate him. 70% of our population lives below the poverty line. Only the wealthy owns newspapers.

5) Andy is off the mark, people in South America have completely different political views than US citizens. Che is much loved here; Cuba is not as badly seen as in the tiny Miami Cuban community, and if Andy doesn´t like it, too bad. On whose list is Cuba listed as violating Human Rights? The USA? After Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, they have no moral to judge anyone. Cuba´s accomplishments in health, education & sports are undeniable. If Andy doesn´t like that, too bad. The truth is that Andy´s views are completely out of sync with the latinos who live in their own countries and not in Miami.


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