Esteban Insausti
Film director

Esteban Insausti began his professional career as a scriptwriter for Cuban television at age 19 and at the age of 40 –remarkably young, in Cuba he is already among the country's leading independent filmmakers. Insausti's feature films, short movies and documentaries have won prizes at Montreal's Festival des Films du Monde, the New Latin American Film Festival, and the Youth Film Showcase in Havana, and have been shown as part of the official selection at Cannes.

Born in Havana in 1971, Insausti was initially a student of jazz but switched direction and graduated from Cuba's Instituto Superior de Artes (ISA) with a degree in film direction. He also studied at Cuba's international film school, the EICTV. "People have no idea what it's like to make a movie in Cuba today," he says. "If you want to make a movie you've got to work beyond belief. In Cuba you can't live off your films; you have to live for your films. In other parts of the world it's a very profitable industry, but in Cuba...you know where the country is right now. It's in transformation, a transformation of values and of the economy. People are learning – and this is especially true of the younger generation of movie-makers they're learning how to sell themselves. ... We're clearly heading towards a new kind of Cuban cinema."

Insausti's first full-length feature movie, Larga Distancia ("Long Distance", 2011), is a very polished but extremely lonely story about emigration and loss. The story begins when Ana, who does not live in Cuba anymore, decides to return 15 years later to visit one of her best friends. However, when she arrives she finds out that he has left without telling her. "Larga Distancia was a very old project: I wrote the script when I was still a student at the ISA. It was a geographical experience. One day I was planning to celebrate my birthday. But my phone book had almost no-one in it who I wanted to invite. Everyone had left, I think I had two friends left. So that's where the story started."

For Larga Distancia, Insausti wrote the script, directed, did all the post-production himself and also worked on distribution, with the Cuban Institute for the Arts and Industry of the Cinema, ICAIC. "That too is a new experience," he points out. "The producer-director model is going to have to work out in Cuba, because we don't have any other option in the current circumstances."