Cuba/Netherlands: Film about the underground music scene


The documentary film ‘¡Cuba RebelióN!’ is an unusual and very outspoken portrait of the Cuban underground music scene. It’s about the punk-rock and metal musicians rebelling against the bureaucracy and imposed conformity of the Castro regime.

By Kristina Funkeson, Freemuse

The film gives an historical overview of music in Cuba through the musicians’ stories. It tells about how rock music was forbidden in the 1980s and how you risked going to jail for two years only by possessing the Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ LP in the 1960s. Ironically – today there is a statue of John Lennon in a park in Havana. This example illustrates the hard process and the time it can take to get your music approved by musical institutions in Cuba.

In prison without trial
To get accepted by the state owned musical companies the groups need approval by the Cultural Ministry. One of the refused groups is Qva Libre. Despite being one of the most ambitious and popular groups they are not signed at any record label.

Since the music played on Cuban radio stations mostly consists of traditional music, such as salsa, the alternative music scene is spread through word of mouth. The musicians witness about how music videos often are censored and that there is nothing to do about it.

“I’m fed up with it”, says Gorki Luis Águila Carrasco from Porno Para Ricardo in the film. He has spent more than four months in a maximum security prison without a trial. According to him, people are put into prison only “for making art which is not politically correct”. He will never forget the terrible conditions and how he suffered in jail.

Speaking out
Porno Para Ricardo is probably the most censored band in Cuba. They belong to the few who dares to speak out against the system. “Everybody says to me and all the other bands say to me: ‘It’s great what you are doing. It is fantastic.’ But no one invites me or the band to come and play. Not anymore”, says Gorki.

“There are things in Cuba that you just can’t say”, tells Carlo, working for an association aiming to help and promote artists. “We all have to accept this.” But Gorki is impatient for change. His favourite punk motto is ‘No future’, meaning that the present is most important.

Breaking with a system
Gorki and the others are fighting for more than their freedom of expression. They are fighting for the freedom to be who they are and to be accepted and respected. ¡Cuba RebelióN! is a powerful portrayal of how to break with a political system that not only exists on a institutional level, but also regulates the people’s very way of thinking and being.

‘¡Cuba RebelióN!’
The Netherlands / Cuba 2008.
53 minutes
Directed by: Alessio Cuomo & Sander de Nooij
Produced by: Coldsun Productions VOF & Column Film
Language: Spanish with English subtitles




Gorki from Porno Para Ricardo.

Still from the film

Read more about the film

Column Film


¡Cuba RebelióN! – video trailer on YouTube

[8:36 minutes]





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