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Film as a Tool of Mass Construction

By Aura Hernández, Oklahoma City, OK

the poster for the film, Nursing Cuba
Poster announcing the Nursing Cuba Film

Jeff Anthony Reddick uses filmatic imagery as a “tool of mass construction,” to transform and denounce what he feels is a chaotic and unjust reality. He also considers his dreams, illusions and profound desire to overcome any and all barriers imaginable part of his arsenal.

Reddick has epilepsy, experiences migraine headaches and, as diagnosed during his years as a student, is “learning disabled.” But Reddick is working to do something for people who live in difficult conditions.

This filmmaker is known for bringing attention to the issues of people who have been forsaken, of those sectors of society that are forgotten about. Without knowing Spanish, Reddick saved money and – after a long and complicated process of obtaining permits – went to Cuba to make his latest documentary entitled “Nursing Cuba.” The final edition was made possible thanks to the generous support of Doctor Andrew Horton, Director of the Film Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

Reddick was happy to participate in an exclusive interview for Proyecto Visión.

A.H. What is the plot of “Nursing Cuba?”

J.R. The main theme is the bitter, fierce and painful struggle that Cuban seniors are experiencing in order to obtain medical attention from the few geriatric doctors on the island. The film takes place mostly in Pedro Gonzáles Hospital, which, like many other hospitals in Cuba, was devastated by the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean.

The documentary is about the effects of the embargo on the people of Cuba. Those who hold the power suffer little to no personal consequences. Unfortunately those who feel the impact of the embargo are the average men, women and children of the Cuban towns.

In the film, my point of view supports studies done by the American Association for World Health that determined the embargo has caused not only cause dramatic suffering, but also irreversible damage the health and nutrition of a great percentage of the population, and may have contributed to deaths.

The Cuban Democracy Act (1992) prohibits the sale of food and restricts the importation of medicines and medical equipment to Cuba. In addition, the mergers and acquisitions among pharmaceutical companies in the United States and Europe have reduced the number of companies that do business with Cuba so fewer medical supplies and medicines reach the island.

A.H. Why did you choose to highlight the situation of elderly people in Cuba?

J.R. Elderly Cubans have lived through it all: from the pre-revolution to the present state of deterioration. Many older people in Cuba live very poorly. In every corner of the island there are hospitals and clinics, but there are few geriatric specialists on the island. Elderly people do not have access to medical supplies like pacemakers or kidney dialysis machines because it is near impossible to buy them. The older people suffer the consequences of international politics. It seems to me a blind and inhumane battle.

A.H. What do the Cubans do to survive all the calamities?

J.R. The Cubans do incredible things to make up for what they don’t have and to try to survive. The government programs for retired people try to make up for what’s lacking in certain areas. In Cuba they don’t have regular access to modern medicine so preventative medical care is fundamental. There also are alternative treatments, such as herbal remedies. The Cuban philosophy, basically, is to try to avoid disability or illness, be it mental, psychological or physical. The idea is to keep the people active and participating in the community.

One thing that I liked about the Cuban medicine is that it focuses on prevention. The older people in Cuba only use drugs when it is absolutely necessary. The Cuban doctors try to prolong the quality of people’s lives.

A.H. How will your documentary help improve the situation of elderly Cubans?

J.R. The objective of the documentary is to raise funds to improve the medical installations and to provide medicines to geriatric health clinics in Havana.