Award-Winning Cuban Filmmaker Explains Decision to Defect to U.S.

Lead Photo: Photo By: Edison Sanchez / IFF Panamá
Photo By: Edison Sanchez / IFF Panamá
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While 20 independent Cuban filmmakers were rolling out a proposed overhaul of their country’s outdated production system, one of the island’s brightest young talents was giving up the fight. In yet another chapter in the complex saga of filmmaking in 21st-century Cuba, director Ian Padrón has formally announced that he will be staying indefinitely in the United States.

The director of the cherished 2011 film Habanastation is perhaps best known as an award-winning music video director, and has shot clips for artists of international renown such as Los Van Van and Buena Fe. Notably, he is also the son of Juan Padrón, creator of the animated classics Vampiros en La Habana (Vampires in Havana) and Elpidio Valdés, and one Cuba’s most important audiovisual artists of the last century (something like a communist Walt Disney.)

In recent interview with journalist Carmen Aristegui for CNN en Español, Padrón admitted that he was simply “tired of fighting,” citing numerous personal and professional complications he was dealing with in Cuba. Indeed, Padrón is known as being one of the island’s more outspoken artists and is no stranger to controversy. At last year’s edition of the Premios Lucas — the Cuban equivalent of the Video Music Awards — he made a fuss after publishing an open letter criticizing a lack of transparency in the awards. Ironically, he also won Best Video of the Year, despite having two of his other works censored by “higher ups.” His personal difficulty getting the green light for a live action version of Elpidio Valdés by the state film studio (ICAIC) is also well documented, which has left him without a follow up to Habanastation despite being considered a touchstone of contemporary Cuban cinema.

Padrón seemed pained by the decision, reaffirming his love for his country with a metaphor about a tense relationship with a beloved girlfriend, but refused to fall into the divisive language of dissidence by calling for mutual respect amongst all Cubans. As for the recent opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba, Padrón praised president Obama, calling the decision “intelligent” and “pragmatic” and expressing optimism for the future of the Cuban people.

As for papi Padrón? Looks like he’s not quite in agreement with hijo Ian’s decision, but gave his bendición nonetheless.