Take the package

Por: Daniel Céspedes Góngora

The phrase with which I title this text would concern many in Spain, but not in Cuba. Here restless a few who also need to “take the package” to know what it is.

The Cuban package continues to correspond in principle to one of its first meanings: mess or lump. You can (and is) a wrapper that you don’t see because it’s hidden in what’s in it: the USB stick or the external hard drive. The load tends to be assessed based on the storage capacity of the devices. The longer someone gets along, the more likely they are to be pleased. That’s what you think. So, what’s taken? Series, documentaries, reality show, feature films, audiovisuals in general.

The Cuban package needs to reinforce an experienced delight that, by force of repeating itself, may arouse other interests than it wants to see. But, usually, it happens that everyone trusts what they already please. Change the taste? There’s a moment that’s almost unlikely. In any case, you could think of a variation, the closest thing to widening as much as you like. Deep down it is a matter of relapse of personal satisfaction. However, the enjoyment of the package is fueled by constancy, surprise and curiosity. Consistency of what the consumer knows he is looking for, surprise in the known and curiosity of expectations.

How has the package influenced and influenced Cuba? The package and those behind it contribute to the audiovisual promotion and enrichment of stakeholders. First, it was possible – it was not difficult – to become independent of the programming grid of television channels. Television ceased to be an alternative and many viewers went on to have their time more freely and, consequently, to choose what they wanted to see. This tantalizing independence has subtly disguised its perversion: the combined and consecutive tie by the chapters and seasons of series, participation programs and even sagas of films. But the package is not (imposed) like television. His democracy is in that he welcomes because he offers. If the consumer does not find something that satisfies him, then delete, search and discover. If at the conclusion of the exploration you do not find anything of interest, you withdraw. Although he holds hope, because in the next package he may be looking for it. No more, no less.

The attempt to make an “official” package, the so-called Backpack offered at the Young Clubs, to compete with the contents of the “clandestine” package is unhappy, if not naive, especially since it is another failed test of applying a readjustment of what is “worth seeing”. It is clear that the package supports a diversity that includes the excellent, the good, regular and bad. Taste is educated and can be reoriented, although it is known that the quality of something is understood by many, erroneously, according to the complacency of their personal criteria of value. Wrong or not, what is consumed and how it is consumed should not be imposed. We no longer have to wait for television to star in a series or film and many of us smile because the package, where you find a lot of garbage but also classic and recent jewelry, is very ahead of what our television presents that, as we know, takes from the packages – there are four at most – to be in tune with the current consumption.

In short, the package continues to represent enormous cultural compensation, a way to be aware of the world like never before, maximum in a country where a minority manages to leave and has to travel thanks to the moving images we buy every week.

Film critics comment on the package

Juan Antonio García Borrero: The worst thing about it is dispersion. You waste a lot of time looking for what can bring us pleasure. And that’s precisely why you often can’t connect with things that might be of interest to us. But that, piracy aside, let’s have all those contents on hand, I think it’s wonderful.

Dean Luis Reyes: In a country with hardly any access to the web, almost no cinemas, no institutions to buy or rent movies, did anyone think people would keep their arms crossed? The sacrosanct Cuban cultural policy has not understood that civil society has a powerful imagination, and as it was before the state helped those affected by the January 2019 tornado, it managed to generate this phenomenon. The appearance of the package is as significant for Cuban cultural history (although it is difficult to demonstrate it with figures) as the creation of the network of public libraries and the national printing press.

Gustavo Arcos Fernández-Britto: I would say that it is the event of greatest mass and cultural impact in the last fifteen years. It has opened many windows to viewers, because in the package there are for all tastes and colors. It has been… our particular Internet, a space of socialization and distribution of many works that, Cuban or foreign, would have become difficult to appreciate.

Alberto Garrandés: I used to be interested in contaminating the weekly package (with the cinema of Godard, David Lynch, Tarkovsky and other canonical directors), but I have seen something curious: young people see more and more cinema… and the quality of what they see increases slowly. Very slowly, but they open their eyes and look a little further. So I stopped doing it. Not long ago I exchanged movies with one of those young men, and he offered me, as something new and disturbing, a certain folder. When I opened it, I saw that they were all movies in my collection, even in the order in which I usually have them. There I realized that a cycle had been completed and that there was no need to contaminate anything.

Antonio Enrique González Rojas: In this area full of options, everyone will somehow find their affiliations, because they have no choice. I found them and found them, and I’m no better or more perfect than anyone. Thanks to the package I am largely aware of a large part of the most contemporary of world cinema.

Angel Perez: You’d marvel at “the criticism” practiced by “packagers” on the sites where people copy movies. This environment has its own reception structure, with very clear consumption vectors. If in something failed the first ICAIC – where we had minds as brilliant and with ambitions as great as Alfredo Guevara, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Julio García Espinosa; high-altitude filmmakers such as Guillén Landrián or Sara Gómez – it was in his aspiration to get a “new” viewer. Ω

Note: The opinions of film critics belong to interviews conducted by the author of this text, which make up the volume “Passionate and reasonable. Interviews with Cuban film critics”, forthcoming by Hypermedia Publishing.

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