Chair of the Board for the Toronto International Film Festival
CANTOS, through a deceiving lens, "poignantly depicts the everyday struggles of life in a society that pales in resemblance to its heyday of the Past".
Which “past” is the documentary maker talking about? The one where the Mafia, U.S. Intelligence Agencies and Financial Groups brought a criminal state to power through a coup carried out by military dictator Fulgencio Batista, before the Cuban Revolution of 1959?! The one where some 100,000 prostitutes were registered; where casinos, restaurants and hotels were run by capos; where hunger and illiteracy rates were rampant; where the wealth of the nation was being stolen and where the top representatives of Cuban culture were being repressed and murdered?!
Then, Liliane Ruiz, a paid blogger whose job it is to bash Cuba ever more, is going to be speaking after the film, even when Cuba is writing glorious pages -that we are witnessing daily- as it is fighting the Ebola virus in West Africa, just to mention one of the most recent examples of revolutionary Cuba’s long history of humanity and solidarity.
In consideration of the prestige that Bell Lightbox has gained for being unique, it shall not allow such low blow Cuba-bashing and TIFF would be best to host the screenings of works done by some of the talents who are courageous enough to have filmed the issue of Food Banks and the crisis they are facing in the city and join "Sounds of the Season", organized by the CBC with the purpose of collecting food items and cash for the growing number of food bank receivers in Toronto (which we learn today that are up by 20% compared to last year and one third of them are children)!
One wonders where were the documentary makers when the National Ballet of Cuba came to Canada twice in order to help raise funds for the Canada National Ballet Youth Ensemble! Or when thousands of Cubans gave their lives in the struggle against the apartheid regime of South Africa! Or throughout the graduation ceremonies of thousands upon thousands of young humble students from around the world who study medicine or other sciences (including the first student from Toronto, Nabeel Yar Khan) at Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine! Or when Haiti’s children, traumatized after the 2010 earthquake, were touched by the humane solidarity of Cuban artists, or when courageous Cuban young women doctors and educators are in the farthest corners of the earth, helping humble people and they are there for the simple reason that humanity needs them!
And if, as the film depicts, the search of a medicine for someone who is ill, or a farmer's dream of traveling abroad are truly "honest" images, then one has to have the honesty to communicate the truth about the fact that the Cuban nation has faced a criminal/illegal blockade imposed by the U.S. government for more than 54 years, which is the root cause of such underlying problems (like the shortage of medicine controlled by multi-nationals) faced by this small nation island! Good to know that the United Nations General Assembly, once again, condemned this behaviour of our neighbour to the south, by a vote of 188 against 2!
And while the invited paid blogger will be piling up lies against the Cuban leadership portraying it as "dictatorial" and "torturers" and other such baseless accusations, it is also important to know that the anti-terrorist Cuban Five (who were in the U.S. in order to expose the terrorist plans carried out against Cuba from U.S. territory, which have caused the death of 3478 people and permanent injuries to thousands more) are still unjustly incarcerated in U.S. prisons.
At last I would like to suggest that the Centre for Social Innovation and the U of T Scarborough Film Festival (which have sponsored/cosponsored this film screening) rather than using -or better said “abusing”- Bell Lightbox for their Cuba-bashing, they should make it a point to familiarize themselves with the history of Cuba. In fact, there are quite a few documentaries that show and explain how the Cuban nation has helped millions of people from around the world in learning to read and write as well as having provided over 3 million eye operations free of charge to humble people who couldn’t afford them and many other examples of Cuba's commitment to put its achievements at the service of humanity from Pakistan to Bolivia to …wherever else in the world.
We strongly protest the misrepresentation of Cuba and we invite you and all the movie-goers interested in the facts and the truth, to join us on International Human Rights Day at Beit Zatoun, to see how the Human Rights of the Cuban Nation and of the Cuban Five are being denied by the Empire and to enjoy some nice Cuban tunes direct from Cuba and an exhibition of artwork by two of the unjustly imprisoned Cuban Five.
Toronto Forum on Cuba
PS. It is noteworthy for you to also know that actors/artists such as Danny Glover, Martin Sheen, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon ... and countless other personalities in music, theatre and other facets of culture are campaigning for the Cuban Five's release.