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Monte rouge satirizes the system.
In Cuba one needs humor to survive. Too much humor can be risky.
This 15-minute independently made film, Monte Rouge, makes fun of the often dreary realities of Cuban life. Starting with government corruption over idiotic dogmatic behavior to hypocrisy, Monte Rouge has it all.
Monte Rouge's writer/director Eduardo del Llano declared himself to be most surprised by the underground distribution of the film he made with $500 and a friend's camera.
"I wanted to talk about Cuban-ness. That thing we do ... where we lower the tension or seriousness of things with humor," he said on a recent weeknight while sitting at a Havana café. "What seduces me is putting a character in an absurd situation and seeing what happens next."
In the film two plain-clothed security agents knock at the door of a young man, Nicanor O'Donell.
"Good morning, my name is Rodríguez. This is comrade Segura," they tell him. "We're here to install the microphones."
"Our mission is to install microphones in your home to listen directly to the anti-governmental comments you make," the SDE (sate security) agent says.
Nicanor can't believe. To him it is a bad dream or a bad joke.
The agents explain that they run a pilot scheme to make their work "more inclusive." No longer will the SDE beak in to the houses of suspects to place microphones, they will just knock on the door and ask the house owner to let them install them. All in the name of "more openness".
In exchange they ask that Nicanor accepts the "obvious limitations" of having only two microphones placed in the house (they decide and the bathroom) and to ensure that all subversive conversations are held in that place (offering a free mini-bar to install in the bathroom to get guests to go there for these conversations).
In a mild mannered conversation (with some dark undertones), they explain they know all about him: his black market dealings (exchanging a table from a museum with a guard of the museum for a VCR), the conversations he has had with friends in bars, ... The say he was selected for this test program because of his "excellent analysis" that goes beyond "more bitching" (and the fact that he lived close to the station while they had no access to a car). They also ensure him that the devices are independent of the electricity grid (Cuba is known for its blackouts) as it "hardly would make sense to make eavesdropping dependent of the electricity". The young man is also warned that it is known to them that he also makes some positive comments about Cuba, but that he is to refrain from that "crap" as it in no way interests them and is a waste of their time.
Del Llano, who filmed Monte Rouge last May with a group of friends, says he originally intended for the clip to be shown at Havana's International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in December.
The author stresses that he did not mean to indict Cuba's state security system, he just wanted to create and describe an present absurd Kafkaesque situation. He did succeed in that.
In Cuba and abroad there is a lot of speculation that del Llano and the other participants in Monte Rouge, could face reprisals for the irreverent clip. Let's hope that the popularity of the clip will protect him.
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