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Camera Chica: Life has a way of sobering you up

We were preparing for the next phase of our Camara Chica project in Cuba, loading the filmmaking software onto five more iPads for the ten media hubs we’ve set up across the island in partnership with IntoFilm, British Council and Suited and Booted. Flight booked, visa sorted, with Mark Bishop going out there in just a couple of weeks to give some mobile phone filmmaking workshops at the second Camara Chica festival in Pinar del Rio, then completing some more intense training with one of the communities there… Then, news comes through that a deadly tornado has torn through Havana and Pinar, leaving destruction, injuries and death in its wake.

What makes that more personal is that this time, one of the Cuban filmmakers we worked with on our first visit, back in 2013, is currently studying here in the UK, anxious to hear about the safety of family and friends back home, and the home of one of our original community filmmakers based in Lawton, Havana has had her home devastated by the storm. At least she and her daughter are safe.

How has it affected everyone in Pinar? We are trying to find out. Will the trip go ahead? Fingers crossed. But for all its faults, it’s great that we can communicate with everyone and learn what’s going on through Facebook and other such social media platforms – seeing the damage and the impact for ourselves but, more importantly, learning so quickly that everyone is safe.

Barry Hale

Heart in Havana.

Jan 2019