Culture, Globe, Screen, United Kingdom

“Wasp Network”: criticised and demonised

Criticised by many and demonised by its opponents, Wasp Network, by French director Olivier Assayas, is showing at the world’s famous film festivals; and it’s catching the critics’ eye. The film is based on the story of the so-called “Miami Five” and seeks to tell an extremely distorted truth.

 

Yelena Rodríguez Velázquez

 

One of the oldest film festivals, the 76th Venice International Film Festival, hosted the premiere of this French-Spanish-Belgian-Brazilian joint production that sparked diverse and opposing views regarding its artistic quality and its political doctrines.

Based on the book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War: The Story of the Cuban Five, by Brazilian author Fernando Morais, the feature film tells the story of Cuban counter-terrorists in the United States during the 1990s.

Purely political interests led to an onslaught of contentious viewpoints and invoked the rage of those who served in the circle of anti-Cuban organisations, and who defend the policy of the USA, amongst them former congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

It’s obvious that it will spark such displeasure, declared Gerardo Hernández Nordelo — one of the Five Cuban Heroes, and leader of the network of agents that exposed anti-Cuban groups based in the United States, who was sentenced to two life sentences and 15 years in prison.

In an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina, Hernández Nordelo shared his expectations of the film; although he is still yet to see it, he welcomes the idea of raising awareness of this topic.

“If the film talks about the terrorism against Cuba and shows the acts orchestrated by terrorist organisations like the Cuban American National Foundation and Brothers to the Rescue, it will be very welcome,” Gerardo states.

Photo: Pixabay

With a degree in International Relations and as a Hero of the Republic of Cuba, he is conscious of how complex and ambitious it is to create a feature film like this one, underpinned by a controversy-laden topic, and not just for the seventh art.

“It’s a story spanning almost 20 years that involved many people. It’s interesting that it’s been done, especially by a first-rate director and with world-renowned actors,” he states.

The historical gaps in the text on which it is based aside, Hernández Nordelo extols the film’s value as a true document; according to him, it contains real facts and figures that many try to silence.

“We are talking about terrorists who still live in the United States and are protected by its government; they even have their training camp in Florida,” he explains. He adds: “if it is faithful to Morais’ work and refers to the terrorist acts and the list of violent actions orchestrated against Cuba, then there is no doubt, it will be an interesting work”.

However, many film experts question the number of characters, situations and the structure chosen for narration, although they insist on the film’s greatness in terms of location and cast.

Film specialist Jay Weissberg, of the US weekly Variety, questions whether both the story and the characters have been cut down, at the expense of cohesion.

Photo: Pixabay

But David Rooney, from The Hollywood Reporter magazine, highlighted the film’s beauty, its strong cast and stunning location work, although it has “too many characters, situations and settings to make for satisfying storytelling”.

Film journalist Luciano Castillo of the CubaCine website —one of the Cubans who had the opportunity to see the film’s premiere— highlighted the well-chosen script, direction and music.

Castillo agreed that Spain’s Penelope Cruz; Mexico’s Gael García Bernal; Venezuela’s Édgar Ramírez; Argentina’s Leonardo Sbaraglia; and Brazil’s Wagner Moura all gave excellent performances.

As he noted, the actors were able to master the Cuban accent with naturalness and true magnificence.

The most important thing, Castillo insisted, is the honesty with which the issue is approached. It is a film that has all the licences of fiction, but which treats the facts with great respect, not distancing itself from reality.

According to Castillo this is a usual resource in cinema, as even the most historically rigorous films take liberties in order to better recreate the scenes and dialogues that took place.

“Respect for Morais’ text is ever predominant, focusing on the work of René González, Gerardo Hernández and Juan Pablo Roque, and the contradictions, doubts and uncertainties of the characters and their families,” the Cuban critic observed.

Castillo also states that the film will be very useful to inform those ignorant of the actions taken by the intelligence group’s members, who fought a silent battle to avoid terrorist acts being committed in Cuba.  (PL)

(Translated by Rebecca Ndhlovu – Email: rebeccandhlovu@hotmail.co.uk)

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