Freedom to be

All about Luis Moro. The man, the filmmaker, the legend.

US producer risks jail for film shot in Cuba

US producer risks jail for film shot in Cuba

Cuban-American filmmaker Luis Moro shot a film in Havana without permission to protest against blockade
30 May 2006

New York 30 May: Cuban-American filmmaker Luis Moro made a protest against the long-standing US trade and travel blockade against Cuba by making a film there.

Moro’s “Love and Suicide” was showing last week in East New York, New Jersey, after screenings last year in Los Angeles, Miami Beach and the Bahamas.

It’s linked to a personal crusade against the US blockade and it has led US officials to investigate Moro for breach of US laws that make it almost impossible for most Americans to legally visit communist Cuba.

If officials act against him, Moro says he will refuse to pay any fines, even if it means jail time.

“It’s a farce – the embargo has not worked, and it is not going to work,” Moro said of the policy imposed since the early 1960s. “I’m committed to fighting this to the end.”

Moro, who left Cuba with his mother at the age of 5, says his campaign doesn’t mean he favours the Cuban government or its leader Fidel Castro.

“I’m not pro-Castro. I’m anti-embargo,” he says.

A writer, actor and producer, Moro attended a film festival in Havana in December 2003 and took the opportunity to shoot “Love and Suicide,” which was filmed by director Lisa France with a small digital camera.

Days after the movie was shown at the American Black Film Festival in Miami Beach in July, the US Treasury Department notified Moro his trip to Cuba was being investigated.

Moro said he refused the department’s request for details about his travels, saying he has the right to travel freely.

The department can impose fines of up to $65,000 for Americans traveling to Cuba without a special license. Typical fines for first-time violators are about $7,500.

Moro said ordinary Cubans on the island suffer most from the sanctions, which were tightened in 2004. The number of US visitors, including those of Cuban origin, slipped to about 108,000 last year from about 200,000 in 2003, according to a Cuban government report, which did not say how many were considered legal by US authorities.

The strongest backers of the blockade have been Cubans who fled the country immediately after the Castro-led revolution came to power in 1959, often losing their property. Moro says it’s time to move on.

The exiles “will never get their land back,” he said. “Just like the Seminole Indians won’t get Florida back, and Texas won’t be returned to Mexico.”

“How many generations, how many families, have been ruined because of personal vendettas?” he asked.

The themes of forgiveness and moving beyond bitterness pepper “Love and Suicide.” Kamar de los Reyes plays a New Yorker on the verge of killing himself when he travels to Cuba and confronts his roots.

A Cuban taxi driver, played by Moro, shows him the city, helping him find love and some inner peace.

The movie shows sweeping vistas of the Cuban capital – the famous Malecon seawall, bustling tourist markets, the winding, picturesque streets of the old city – some with a personal touch.

When de los Reyes’character visits his father’s crumbling home in central Havana, it really is the former house of the actor’s Cuban father.

Moro says that if “Love and Suicide” is shown in upcoming Havana film festivals, he’ll be back.

Without a US licence.

On the Web:


September 29, 2006 Posted by | art, black, black actors, Blogroll, cuba, Denzel Washington, embargo, fashion stylist, fidel castro, film, filmmaker, freedom, Gale Harold, latin, living, Los Angeles, Luis Moro, media, mega tv, Miami, movies, music, My Space, New Jersey, news, Pete Maez, Phillip Bloch, politics, Shirly Ceasar, travel, tv, Uncategorized, Union City, video | 3 Comments

“Relax, it’s only life.” -Luis Moro

the-seige.jpg Luis Moro playing Denzel washington’s decoy in The Siege.

September 29, 2006 Posted by | art, black, black actors, Blogroll, cuba, Denzel Washington, embargo, fashion stylist, fidel castro, film, filmmaker, freedom, Gale Harold, latin, living, Los Angeles, Luis Moro, media, mega tv, Miami, movies, music, My Space, New Jersey, news, Pete Maez, Phillip Bloch, politics, Shirly Ceasar, travel, tv, Uncategorized, Union City, video | 2 Comments

Union City Reporter interviews Luis Moro by Jessica Rosero

The revolution begins withinHudson County native brings his Cuban people back home
Jessica Rosero
Reporter staff writer

LOVE & SUICIDE – The first narrative feature film shot in Cuba, by Americans, since the Cuban Embargo, Love & Suicide opened on May 26, at the West New York Mayfair Theatre and will run until June 1.

“The hardest thing is to look in a mirror and see the ghost of what you never wanted to be.” That is one of the torments plaguing Tomas, played by Kamar De Los Reyes, who is the lead character of Love & Suicide, which was co-written and directed by former Union City native Luis Moro and Lisa France.“Tomas goes to Cuba and discovers the one thing between love and suicide,” said Moro.

So, what is that one thing between love and suicide? You’ll find out when you see the film, which opened Friday May 26 at the Mayfair Theatre in West New York and will run until Thursday June 1.

The 85-minute independent film is the first of its kind to be filmed on the island of Communist Cuba.

With beautiful images of the waves engulfing the shores, historical architecture, and the “viejita,” old lady, smoking tobacco on the front steps of her home, Moro’s film captured the spirit of present-day Havana.

Many of the island’s exiles still long for their home country and can now see it for the first time in the film. “A lot of it is based in true events, we didn’t have to make it up,” said Moro. “It was just what unfolded as they went along with the story.”

Filming in Cuba?

The cast and crew of eight had been accepted into the 2003 Havana Film Festival for Moro and France’s previous film called Ann B. Reel, about a rapper inspired by the Diary of Anne Frank.

“I always wanted to do a movie in Cuba and we were only there for three weeks, so we shot for three weeks straight,” said Moro. “You work hard; independent filmmakers don’t fool around.”

Some of the remaining scenes of the movie were shot in New York City, but a majority of the picture takes place on location.

At a recent screening at Las Vegas’ Desert Film Society, the film opened to a packed audience and garnered rave reviews.

“There was a man there who was an exile and he said to us, ‘I thought I could never go home again, thank you for letting me go home,’ ” said France.

The phenomenal cast of characters included Havana locals as extras.

De Los Reyes, of Days of Our Lives fame, delivered a very engaging and honest performance.

“As far as actors go, he is going to be the next A-List Latin actor. He really delivered,” said Moro. “The foundation is there with the soap and independent film worlds.”

De Los Reyes was approached about the project after filming ended on Ann B. Reel, which his girlfriend was a part of.

Personal project

Born in Cuba, Moro immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was very young and was raised among the adopted Cuban community of Union City. It was during his 3rd grade school play at Washington School that he caught the performing arts bug.

Moro worked in real estate and held a show for 10 years on the local TV station Univision, but in the last eight years he worked on film and stage productions across the country.

“I still do stand-up once in a while and got a couple of opportunities in movies,” said Moro, who landed a small role on the film For Love of the Game with Kevin Costner.

“I’ll never forget what [Costner] told me: ‘just keep your eye on the ball because there are so many distractions,’ ” said Moro.

Moro now resides in California with his wife and five children and continues to balance his inspiring career with his loving family life.

France and Moro became the best of friends about eight years ago and have worked on numerous projects together.

“Louie is my best friend, and when a person can’t go home to their country and see their family, I don’t even know what kind of experience that is, so this project is very personal for me in that respect,” said France as she fought back tears.

Political spotlight

The film has been receiving good responses since entering numerous film festivals starting earlier this year, and it has also brought up the controversy involving America’s relationship with the neighboring island nation.

Love & Suicide is the first American feature picture to be filmed in Cuba in the 46 years of the Cuban Embargo, which bans all travel and trade from the United States to Cuba.

“I personally think this film is going to represent peoples’ opinions about the embargo and I think it will have a major part in lifting the embargo,” said Moro.

Moro still has some family members in Cuba. Due to the embargo, Moro’s family has had to go through other countries to see their relatives, some whom they haven’t seen in years.

“[The government] won’t let my 84-year-old grandmother go to Cuba to see her dying son – that’s ridiculous. I can’t even visit my uncle because the government doesn’t consider him my family. How many families have been destroyed by this embargo?” said Moro.

Moro has been outspokenly critical of America’s political leaders in respect to the embargo, especially those representing the Hispanic community.

“[The politicians] are not representing anybody; not the people in Cuba, the United States or the United Nations,” said Moro. “For 46 years Castro has blamed the embargo for Cuba’s condition when it’s because of the embargo that we’re this way. For 46 years it has not worked, and Cuba just made a deal with China for travel and oil. Cuba is going to do just fine without the us.”

Moro invited some of Jersey’s most powerful political Hispanic leaders like Senator Robert Menendez, a longtime proponent of the embargo, and Assemblyman and Mayor of West New York Albio Sires to the premiere.

Other screenings have taken place in Miami and the Bahamas, and more are scheduled for other upcoming film festivals in New York and California.

The Mayfair, however, will be the first theatrical release.

“It’s the first theatrical release for an independent filmmaker from Hudson County; it’s amazing. It’s like being a rookie in a major league ballgame,” said Moro.

©The Hudson Reporter 2006

September 29, 2006 Posted by | art, black, Blogroll, cuba, embargo, fashion stylist, fidel castro, film, filmmaker, freedom, Gale Harold, latin, living, Los Angeles, Luis Moro, media, mega tv, Miami, movies, music, My Space, New Jersey, news, Pete Maez, Phillip Bloch, politics, Shirly Ceasar, travel, tv, Uncategorized, Union City, video | 1 Comment