Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Elian Factor

Remember Elian Gonzalez? His deportation to Cuba was probably the "tipping point" that gave Republicans control of the White House in the 2000 elections, as Cuban-Americans who had previously voted for Clinton switched sides or stayed home. Result: Florida was lost to the Democrats, and George Bush entered the White House. The issue was so emotional, that memories might affect the outcome of this year's Presidential contest.

Now Agustin Blazquez says the American Film Institute is blacklisting his new documentary film Covering Cuba 3: Elian , after a successful showing at the Miami Film Festival. Blazquez produced and directed o the documentaries "Covering Cuba", (which premiered at the American Film Institute cinema in the Kennedy Center); "Cuba: The Pearl of the Antilles"; "Covering Cuba 2: The Next Generation" and "Covering Cuba 3: Elian". You can watch a clip at his website.

It would seem a timely film, and therefore natural for AFI's Washington, DC audience. But no go. AFI won't show it.

Blazquez says the reason is political censorship by the federally subsidized organization, "which is illegal."

Here's the full text of Blazquez's press release charging the AFI with blacklisting, contrasting its refusal to show his film with the AFI's dumping an Orson Welles retrospective for Michael Moore's "Farenheit 9/11":

Agustin Blazquez, producer and director of documentaries, says of the decision of the American Film Institute (AFI) Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland to show the newly released controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11:

“It is ironic that they will show this documentary after they rejected mine because they considered it ‘too controversial,’ and they don’t like to show ‘controversial films.’

“The AFI, which in 1995 showed my first documentary of the series COVERING CUBA at a sold-out screening at the Kennedy Center, this time told me after I had been waiting for an answer for eight months, that after viewing about 10 minutes of it, that this documentary [COVERING CUBA 3: Elian] was too controversial and they wouldn’t show it.

“Actually this boils down to what all Cuban American filmmakers and artists in general have experienced in the U.S., which is simply discrimination for political reasons, which is illegal.

“The fact that it is all right to show a highly controversial far-left, anti-American, anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war, anti-U.S. military and anti-U.S. soldier film reveals clearly where the AFI’s heart is, in addition, of course, to making money off of a controversial film that generates curiosity.

“And, obviously, the offer of the film by Moore’s distributor to AFI was last minute. The Orson Welles films on the AFI’s schedule to be shown during the period Fahrenheit 9/11 is being shown were bumped. Besides the money they will rake in due to all the free publicity the film gets it will put its newly opened Silver Theater on the left-wing map.

“However, my so-called ‘too controversial’ documentary about the tragedy of the 6-year old boy Elian Gonzalez is censored and not allowed to be shown to the AFI’s audience.

“The AFI certainly has a double standard deciding which controversial films fit their political bias. Art and politics dance together at the AFI.”