Seated in their respective personal studios and workspaces, five Cuban artists from a range of mediums—poet Pedro Juan Guttierez, film director Fernando Perez, musician Frank Delgado, film critic and professor Gustavo Arco, and poet and playwright Anton Arrufat—discuss the role censorship has played, currently plays, and will play in society, and more precisely, the world of art.
Their five separate interviews are intertwined with one another for one larger conversation, with intermittent installments of quotes from famous creatives centering on censorship, as well as clips from various films, such as the Cuban film Fresa y Chocolate, or Strawberry and Chocolate.
OVID.tv brings together the minds of those who know censorship first hand
In only 40 minutes, these men who have been personally and professionally affected by censorship bring forward, and verbally dismantle, the way censorship is woven into our society. Most effectively, they note that “undoubtedly, censorship is an instrument of power, an instrument of defense.”
Concepts familiar to us in socio-politically progressive America—such as liberty and artistic freedom—are contrasted to the reality of Cuban censorship, especially as it ran rampant in the ‘60s and ‘70s among artists from various backgrounds.
An alternative kind of censorship, one this writer had not necessarily considered in exact terms, is self-censorship. When we consider how others may react, consider our government's eyes on our work, and worry about affecting those around us—and shift our work to better suit those people and those fears—we are effectively self-censoring. Something this documentary states will leave said work “mutilated.”
The narrators’ perspectives are far from haughty. Their discussion is more than about artists, it is to artists. As musician Frank Delgado said, “I am not a diplomat, I am a troubadour.”
The entirety of the documentary is spoken in Spanish, which should not deter viewers of other tongues. The commentary powerfully expresses that the censorship that has existed before us, and will continue on years from now—censorship we are often blind to—transcends language; an all-important message for both creators and consumers.
The 2007 documentary leaves something to be desired, in this reviewer’s opinion, on the audio and visual front. Quick cuts from scene to scene, muffled audio, and uneasy camera work may throw you off from time to time, but this strikes as a minor factor compared to the information packed in the film.
For those who want to learn about the world we live in and are looking to be enlightened by veterans of the world of art, ZONE OF SILENCE should make your watch-list during quarantine.
Run Time: 40 minutes
For more information and to watch the film visit the OVID.tv webpage for ZONE OF SILENCE
Director Karel Ducassse
Narrators Pedro Juan Guttierez (poet), Fernando Perez (film director), Frank Delgado (musician), Gustavo Arco (critic and professor), Anton Arrufat (poet and playwright)
Images courtesy of Ovid.tv.
About the Author:
Margaret Smith is a writer, editor, and critic achieving her B.A. from Columbia College Chicago. Having migrated from small-town Illinois, she now dwells in Chicago with a curious eye for art and a penchant for commentary. When not putting pen to paper, you might catch her about the city sipping coffee and filling in crossword puzzles.