Culture, Globe, On Stage, United Kingdom

Tales from Cuba to Italy

Behind the camera she is determined to narrate the life of her homeland and its inhabitants. And so she has done with her films “La Machetera” and “Herradura”, which today form part of the film history where ordinary people talk about their reality and where women stand up for their rights.


Oscar Redondo


She graduated from the International Acting School in Rome, financed her studies with a successful foray into modelling and founded the production company León Cuba Film 14 years ago.

Today she has an extensive and distinguished career in theatre, television and film in Italy, and already has two multi-awarded films shot in Cuba: the short films “Herradura“, made when she started this project, and “La Machetera“, released at the end of 2021. Esnedy Milán Herrera, who received an award from the Blue World International Academy for her contribution, through film, to the rapprochement between the cultures of her native country and the nation where she has lived for more than 30 years, spoke about it from Rome.

For Esnedy, this distinction was very important because it recognises her contribution as an immigrant who does not lose her roots, with projects such as the recent film “La Machetera“, shot in Cuba.

One of the main objectives of this company is to promote cultural collaboration between the two countries, hence the participation of important representatives of Italian cinema who went with it to the eastern Cuban province of Las Tunas, where they filmed these productions.

Both were supported by the Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (Uneac), de Artes Escénicas, the Dirección de Cultura de Las Tunas, the Asociación Hermanos Saíz (AHS), the company Azcuba and the municipal and provincial governments.

Actors from the Cuban groups Total Teatro and Escena Viva, and from the Casa de Cultura de Manatí, participated in both films, as well as people from the localities of Cerro de Caisimú and Cornito.

The earth, life

Esnedy, a native of the town of Manatí, says that both films narrate the life of her homeland and its inhabitants, who participated as improvised actors, applying the method of the famous Italian neo-realist director Roberto Rosellini.

This influence takes us back to the 1950s, when important Cuban filmmakers such as Julio García Espinosa and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, then young lovers of the seventh art, trained at the Centro Experimental de Cinematografía in Rome.

There they had the chance to work alongside directors who promoted the neo-realist aesthetic, such as Césare Zavattini.

Later, both brought to the island iconic productions such as “El Mégano”, directed by Gutiérrez Alea in 1955, and “Historias de la Revolución”, filmed by Gutiérrez Alea in 1960, among many other contributions to Cuban cinema, including the latter’s renowned “Fresa y Chocolate” (Strawberry and Chocolate).

The story of “Herradura” revolves around two fisherwomen, while “La Machetera” tells the real life experiences of a young professional woman who struggles to make her way among rural men in one of the toughest jobs.

These are stories from the pen of Esnedy, who has been writing poetry, novels and short stories from an early age. “Herradura” is based on a short story she wrote in Cuba when she was just 17 years old. The story of two orphaned sisters is partly autobiographical.

For the making of this first short film, she had the help of a Swiss-Italian filmmaker, Veronique Vergari, with whom she shared her studies at the Roman acting academy, where a friendship and complicity in artistic endeavours arose that led them both to embark on this filmic adventure.

The importance of the experience, beyond the success of this production, lay in the fact that the seed was sown to revive and elevate cinematographic cooperation between the two nations with the union of experienced Italian specialists and young Cuban talents.

Women’s rights

The idea for the second, even bigger project, the feature film “La Machetera“, came immediately, but took 10 years to come to fruition.

It was difficult, she says, to bring to the screen the story based on the true events of Marisol, a young Cuban woman who in the 1970s defied the rules of a purely male job to carve out a space of respect and dignity for herself.  It is a film that defends women’s rights in the world.

He tells us about the decision to entrust Yanet Pavón with the making of this new film because “I saw something wonderful in her”, after her serious and judicious work as assistant director to the experienced Schlatter.

“Nobody will understand a machetera going to Las Tunas better than you,” he told her when he proposed the task.

The script of the film was in the hands of the Italian Valentina Orrú, who “managed to enter the world of Tunisia without ever having been to the province”.

Since its premiere less than a year ago, “La Machetera” has received 15 nominations and five awards at major international events.

These include the award for best foreign film at the La Femme International Film Festival 2021 in Los Angeles, USA; the Cuzco Underground Cinema Festival in Peru; and the Angel Film Awards 2021 at the Monaco International Film Festival.

Today Esnedy and his production company León Cuba Film have several projects, one of which is to bring to the cinema the story of an Italian who emigrated to Cuba at the beginning of the 20th century, a story with a deep symbolism already captured in his novel “El erotismo de mi abuelo”, which deals with a story very close to his life. And he wants to do so in a co-production between Italy and Cuba that will serve to bring the cultures of both countries closer together. PL

(Translated by Cristina Popa – Email: Pixabay


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