Lilo Vilaplana: “You can’t always make the film that the public wants”

Cuban-American filmmaker Lilo Vilaplana lives in the city of Miami. From there he continues his upward career. His films have won him a legion of admirers for his courage, camera in hand. His decision to narrate social denunciations, prescribed by the power to be exhibited within Cuba, has increased his fame. Although he does not consider it, in his tapes an unmanipulated truth is breathed that is already being felt. On July 13, his most recent production will premiere at Novocentro in Santo Domingo: “Plantadas”, about the refusal of political prisoners in Cuba to accept the discipline of the ruling party within the prisons where they are deprived of liberty, as well as the vexations suffered in the streets of Havana by the popular movement known as “Ladies in White”. The following interview, granted to Listín Diario via internet, will bring closer the cinema of this author and his most recent film.

Lilo Vilaplana (Nuevitas, Cuba, (1965) is a Cuban-Colombian filmmaker, playwright and writer. He was acclaimed worldwide for his direction of the Colombian television series “El capo”. Among other of his world-renowned works are “La muerte del gato ” (2014) and “Planted” (2021).

The interview

Some already consider you the Constantino Costa-Gavras of Cuban cinema. What is true about this parallel between the great Greek filmmaker and you?

I don’t think Costa-Gavras, at 90 years old, likes being compared to an anti-Castro filmmaker based in Miami. Don’t bother him like that. It would be cruel of you.

Your cinema, among other virtues, has been characterized by including a good dose of acid humor. But in your most recent films, “Plantados” and “Plantadas”, you resort more to the epic tone. Will you delight us again with that humor of “The death of the cat”, for example.

Humor is a virtue, of course, but deep down La muerte del gato recounts a tragedy, it is another epic: that of the everyday, the epic of the daily miseries to which the victims of collectivist nonsense are forced. In the end it’s just a matter of tones. Each story calls for different tones. You can’t always make the movie that the audience wants.

You announce that after “Plantadas” you will continue to touch on the Cuban historical theme. Does this mean that you are fully entering political cinema, as a new alternative to the ruling party?

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It is not about making an alternative cinema to that of Castro’s propaganda, it is about telling the truth, telling the truth of those who have been silenced. It is the hour of victims.

You work with very few resources and you make films of interest. How do you do it?

The problem is that big productions with huge budgets make a lot of useless expenses. I invest in talent, both the actors and the technical and production staff, and I save on everything else. There are many talented people who want to make movies and in the end they don’t decide, because they find good excuses to do nothing. I am one of those who goes from words to deeds. With little or with much. “Doing is the best way to say.”

You take great care both in the photographic plans and in the scripts. Do you consider photography and screenplay to be a kind of well-run marriage in your cinema?

The photography is basic, but the script is too. They don’t always go hand in hand. It depends on many factors: there are good stories badly filmed and bad ones magnificently portrayed. There are other equally important aspects. Ideally, everything is good. For example, in addition to working a lot on the script, photography, sound and directing the actors, I attach great importance to the setting: I work closely with the set designers, costume designers, makeup, because all of this is an essential part of the movie. Remember that I have made tapes about a country that I have to reproduce abroad for an audience that knows its scenes very well and that cannot be betrayed visually. In Hollywood, they can afford to film a movie about the Dominican Republic in Panama because their majority audience doesn’t notice the difference. I can’t afford that lack of respect. That is a major challenge.

Get attention in your movies, casting work and your direction of actors. You always change the cast from one movie to another. Lately you prefer little-known actors. Have you discovered new talents for the cinema?

Every great star was before a new talent. I love discovering them. Anyway, if you can get me Camila Cabello for my new project, I appreciate it.

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