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LOVE DATA WEEK: Film Discussion - “Conectifai!” & “This is Cuba's Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify – all without the internet”

How do we share information without the internet? Can we love date without having the proper infrastructure or the freedom to so? Join Prof. Cecily Raynor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures) in a film discussion about internet access, censorship, information sharing, and ingenuity in Cuba. 

“Conectifai!” (dir. Zoe Garcia, 2016, 11 min) https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/feb/02/conectifai-filming-a-digital-revolution-in-havana

“Pork crackling with wifi!” Welcome to the park in Havana where public wifi makes for a new kind of meeting place.

In 2016, ETECSA – the only telephone company in Cuba – installed wifi routers in 18 public parks across the country. For many Cubans, this meant being able to go online for the first time. Our latest documentary paints a portrait of the social gathering hotspots these parks have since become. Every day crowds of people with smartphones, tablets and chairs turn up to cluster together around the wifi antennas, to a soundtrack of people shouting “conectifai!” (meaning “connection!”). It gives everyone the opportunity to contact loved ones, explore social media, upload photos and find internet dates – activities that reveal much about a rapidly changing Cuba.

The park wifi users help each other get online and roam around looking for better reception, before settling down to peer at their screens together. During the day, it’s mostly older women who turn up, but in the evenings there are groups of young people, flirting and engaging in more edgy wifi pursuits.

In the meantime, a very Cuban kind of commerce is also flourishing, with vendors selling internet cards, drinks and snacks, shouting slogans like “pork crackling with wifi”.

The film, directed by Cuban director Zoe Garcia, was developed through a programme at Havana’s EICTV film school for local documentary makers to produce a short about Cuba in transition. Garcia’s interest was more in the changes to everyday life rather than the much-discussed changes to politics.

“This is Cuba's Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify – all without the internet” (2015, 7 min)     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTTno8D-b2E 

In Cuba there is barely any internet. Anything but the state-run TV channels is prohibited. Publications are limited to the state-approved newspapers and magazines. This is the law. But, in typical Cuban fashion, the law doesn't stop a vast underground system of entertainment and news media distributors and consumers. "El Paquete Semanal" (The Weekly Package) is a weekly trove of digital content—everything from American movies to PDFs of Spanish newspapers—that is gathered, organized and transferred by a human web of runners and dealers to the entire country. It is a prodigious and profitable operation. I went behind the scenes in Havana to film how the Paquete works. Check out the video above to see how Cubans bypass censorship to access the media we take for granted.

Monday, February 8, 2021
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Cecily Raynor
Library event
Registration has closed.

Event Organizer

Marcela Isuster

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