Frequently Asked Questions
1. What inspired you to make Smokescreen?
Early memories of my father smoking. Later I traveled
to Cuba as an adult and it hit me, that all the others
Cubans smoked with a particular reverence. The actual
ritual in Cuba had nothing to do with what I was
accustomed to through the movies and marketing. And I
thought it would make a great film. Concealed within
the cigar were all these layers of meaning that even I
as a Cuban American, was completely unaware of.
2. Could you speak about the main locations and how
this story of the cigar develops?
As smoke can be defined as having no borders we see
this story issue forth from the Precolumbian
discovery, which was the stage for Columbus and
especially Rodrigo de Xerez, who is attributed with
making the first acquaintance with this long tradition
on the island of Cuba. So it is in Cuba where the
story developes and it is out of Cuba where we go with
the story always connected with the homeland in Cuba
by the handmade cigar.
3. Who is your target audience?
Of course the Latin American and American audiences –
but the cigar is a universal sign of fellowship that I
am happy to say will be appreciated by smokeers and
non smokers alike. Because of this fact there is
interest with global feature film distribution
4. How long is the film?
Originally conceived as a short form film it is now
intended for over 50 minutes.
5. Why longer?
More people see feature films and this will give it
greater audience and distribution.
6. How have you funded this film to date?
As a documentary filmmaker you need to be resourceful
so I began with family, friends and cultural
institutions. I've invested much of my own funds and I
continue to bring in funds from my for-profit work as
7. Is this a political film and if so whose side are
This story about smoke is not political. It clings to
the possibility of people having what they need in
regards to a cessation of fighting and like a
messenger of both sides of the same argument perhaps
to see the unification of opposing sides. Another
traditional value of smoke was promoted by our
indegenous aboriginal tribal families as a bridge to
the Spirit. And while, I suppose the act of a "Hav-an
-a Smoke" might be construed to be political, I
8. Was there any redeeming social value in the social
revolution of 1959 for the tobaco industry?
Obviously it depends on who you talk to. You see
following the social revolution in Cuba the cigar
industry became nationalized. Many proprietors were
left out or basically kicked out and had to get out.
This was unfortunate for the the many private cigar
labels that left. Yet then again, Celia Sanchez,
who was a close ally to Fidel Castro and credited with offering more possibilities for women in the revolutionalry society,
that allowed more women to work outside the home. Also
the unfortunate immoral white supremist racist
attitudes in general were not supported as much as
9.What drove you to make this film?
Smokescreen explore the sense of cultural identity
inherent when a Cuban smokes a cigar – yet at the same
time, it becomes a symbol of separation from homeland.
10. Why did the story of Smokescreen shift to become a
After seeing people from over the world appreciate
this grand tradition you realize that there has got to
be more than meets the eye. Here we are not referrring
to the traditional sense of a "Whodunit?" and
features of a suspense novel but rather occult
mysteries that abound in the universe. You see, the
spiritual and religious origins of the cigar are very
deep and need to be articulated because they have been
supplanted by its contraband status and power. This
contrast adds significantly to the drama in the
11. Which facet of this mystery gets articulated the
This is a great question because it takes you right to
the character of the smoke and how the various plots
are interwoven. And because Smokescreen is the
discovery of a metaphor. A journey if you will, into
this interconnectedness within our "Big Family of
Smoke", this answer will depend on who is asking the question.