The last short film by Eduardo del Llano should be shown to the editorial boards and the news media across the country. In a roundtable discussion in the film, an editorial board debates which event will be the front page news in their next edition. There are several news events to choose from: an extraordinary sports record, a falling meteorite that killed a painter on the spot, several work heroes, and some internationalist soldiers. The obedient editors await a telephone call—from above—to tell them which news story they should favor over the others. Meanwhile, they carry on the pantomime as if they could decide, making a show of acting as if the newspaper were really theirs.
Brainstorm is a short film with characters who are not caricatures, on the contrary, it is a reflection of a reality that is in essence exaggerated and grotesque. A world of poses, of professional cowardice, as a result of seeing the more daring colleagues self-destruct. The challenge for these journalists is not to have an original opinion, but to anticipate and predict what the opinion of the powerful will be. Every good “revolutionary” reporter must know what the leaders will say before they emit a single word, they’d better interpret the gestures of the rulers and not err in reflecting them.
The short film deals with this and other journalistic miseries, adding to the list started by the now classic Monte Rouge. Of the series of films directed by Del Llano, this one has hit me the hardest with its thematic immediacy and reference to the gagging of the official press. Seeing it, has confirmed for me the immense privilege I enjoy of not having an editorial boss, censor, or anyone who dictates to me what topics I can cover or what importance to give them. My worst professional nightmare would be to find myself at a table like that, where everyone’s watching their backs, in order to preserve the small privilege of working for Granma, Juventud Rebelde, or some provincial newspaper.
As in the final scene of the short—don’t worry, I won’t spoil the ending for you—something happens out there and our media continues to ignore it. Thousands of incidents happen each day, but the disciplined television news correspondents aren’t authorized to tell us. Instead, they show us a heavenly Cuba of successful agriculture, ambitions accomplished, presidential visits, commitments to resist and smiling Little Pioneers. The telephone call that authorizes reporting the reality, has not come—yet—to the editorial team of any newspaper.