For a long time this has been an untreatable issue in Cuba. It still is an uncomfortable subject. This story and these images have been with me since 1994; and this film is kind of an exorcism to live with those memories.
- Director de Agosto, Armando Capó.
What happened in Cuba in August, 1994?
On August 94 we went through very harsh times. Most of the crew members of this film were children or teenagers at that time and we recall how our parents would do anything to get our daily bread. How transportation almost collapsed and bicycles were the only choice, a really suffocating means in the Caribbean heat. Blackouts going on for over 16 hours a day, so we had to eat and do homework every day under candlelight. The social dismay and seeing neighbours carry rafts and walking to the sea to embrace the hazardous journey toward the United States pursuing a better life. We went to the beach to say goodbye to strangers and somehow sensed we were witnessing a scene we would never forget. August, the film, has that quality to it.
In 1994, Cuba was in the deepest economical crisis caused by the downfall of the Soviet Union. As a consequence, illegal migration to the United States increased. The Cuban government intercepted four vessels with emigrants leaving the country, which caused the largest anti-government riot in the history of the revolution, the so-called Maleconazo (August 5th, 1994). After this, Fidel Castro announced that anyone who wanted to leave the country could do so (August 13th, 1994). This triggered The Rafters’ Crisis, where more than thirty-five thousand Cubans took to the sea heading to the US in rickety boats pursuing better living conditions. On August 19th, US president Bill Clinton ordered the interception of Cuban migrants at sea and their transfer to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, where they were to wait to be admitted into the United States. These events left deep marks on the Cuban people; these were painful and distressing times for many families.
Who are we?
Agosto is a movie by Cuban director Armando Capó, written by him and Abel Arcos, a Cuban scriptwriter, produced by Marcela Esquivel (Costa Rica), Claudia Olivera (Cuba), and co-produced by Paraiso Production Diffusion - Nathalie Trafford, Pomme hurlante Films (France) - Eva Chillon (France).
How have we done so far?
Making this film has not been an easy journey. Armando and Abel started writing, Marcela, the producer, joined the project and started to develop it internationally. Then Claudia entered the project and it became stronger on the Cuban side. Neither government made it easy for us. Neither Cuba nor Costa Rica has legislations supporting filmmaking and very few resources go to a film like Agosto. After 2 years we received the approval from both governments to make our co-production official. Now we also have a co-production with France and we are still in the process of finding other co-production partners.
With the developing of the film, the script and a nice folder we have achieved these awards:
Workshop Columbus / TYPA Project Development, 2011 (Argentina), Cinergia support for development (Costa Rica), First Workshop on Project Development of Central America and the Caribbean, Ibermedia 2012, unpublished scripts Selection of the Festival of Havana 2012, Eave Bridges (Locarno, Ventana Sur) 2013, Selection Cinema Fabrique du Monde, Cannes, 2014, Winner Coproduction Forum, San Sebastian Festival, 2014, Winner of Latin American project, Amiens Festival 2014.
"I was very impressed with the far reach and humanity of the screenplay by Armando that Marcela is producing. The universality of the characters described in the rite of passage that is "Agosto" makes me anticipate a project that will charm a wide audience around the world."
-Walter Salles, director of Motorcycle Diaries, On the Road, Central Station.
Which actors take part in the cast?
Laura de la Uz
This Cuban actress will play the character of Mirta, mother of Carlos, our protagonist.
Laura has starred in roles in films like Hello Hemingway directed by Fernando Pérez which won her the Coral for best female performance at the XII Habana Film Festival. Other feature film works include:
Madagascar, El Benny, Homo Sapiens, El cuerno de la abundancia, Boleto al paraíso, Y sin embargo, Esther en alguna Parte y La película de Ana.
Carlos our main character, is in the process of casting and so is Mandy and Elena, Carlos’ friends.
Given that they are teenagers, it is not possible to confirm them too son, as they would change physically fast.
The general casting of the film will be done starting January 2016.
What do we need the money for?
With this collective funding we want to achieve the goal of completing the required budget for shooting Agosto. The budget of the filming amounts to $100,000; we have managed to raise $80,000 and we would need to raise at least $20,000 more to secure our shooting.
How are we going to use the money?
The money we manage to collect thanks to your contributions, is going to be spend in actors’ fees, food, transportation and art. All of this is vital to carry out and complete the project successfully.
What if we exceed the target?
If we exceed the proposed amount, all the work we’ve done so far would be a sound achievement. Plus, there are also many situations where an extra penny will do the trick, bear in mind that:
Cuba is an unsteady country in many ways, things might change overnight. For example things like foreign currency exchange, banking transactions, taxation, international shipping, communications, printing, supplies in general.
Cuban independent films are usually shot very hastily, with few resources and very much in the mood of "guerrilla moviemaking". Having more money allows us to do this movie in a looser way, with better control of any contingencies.
¨The film is a tribute to all those who suffered the tragedy of migrating risking their lives on rafts made from almost nothing; memories of the grief of those left waiting for news of their relatives, it is also a contemporary review of Cuban history.¨
-Javier Labrador, Agosto's Cinematographer.
Are there other ways I can help?
Many, but above all spread the word!
Share the information and tell friends and family about Agosto. Let the world know through Facebook or send an email to your contacts.
If you have your own internet platform, website or blog; share it with your followers.
The best way to recommend anything is by telling acquaintances, relatives and friends.
When will I receive the rewards?
Rewards will be given depending on their nature:
• Rewards related to the shooting (to name your raft, to have your bike assembled, or to cast an extra), will be arranged a month before filming, during the preproduction stage.
• Rewards requiring completion of filming will be sent two months after the end of the shooting. (Production manual, access to the Making Off, interviews, copy of the script with interviews to the screenwriters).
• Finally, rewards involving the premiere of the movie, the link to the uploaded copy and the DVD distribution will be arranged up to the end of 2017.
How do we deliver rewards?
For physical merchandising rewards we will use postal mail or shipping to the address you send us.
Other rewards will be arranged over email and telephone.
Pre-production will start in June 2016 (that is; all the preparation previous to the shooting).
Shooting in August 2016; and then editing and post production.
Our goal is to release the film by early 2017 either at the Berlin Festival or Cannes Festival, San Sebastián.
We are aware that this is a story that needs to be told with all the honesty it deserves. Agosto will be the first film to feature this issue, from the viewpoint of a teenager who lived through it and who now works out his memories and emotions through cinema. This is a coming to terms process for our director.
We can all profit from it, and join him in healing whatever wounds are left open for any of us back then.
Therefore, we invite you to join this film.