Fidel's Kind of Flick

A pair of Miami filmmakers head to Sundance with a new motion picture about a congressman turned Castro spy

The most subversive aspect of Deco, the Cotayos submit, is not its reflection of anti-Castro obsessions but rather its challenge of a repressive Hollywood dictum: the one-actor-per-character rule. For example, in Stone's JFK, Kevin Costner is the only cast member who plays District Attorney Jim Garrison. But in Deco, the lead role of Diana is played by two actresses, Simone Griffin and Iris Delgado. As the Deco press kit explains: "The actresses have no physical resemblance, but their natural, methodical performances blend into each other with precision and intensity. Each actress brings to the role a unique dimension of the character they are playing, creating one complete and complex multifaceted woman."

The Cotayos are quick to point out that they are not the first filmmakers to do this. Spanish director Luis Bunuel did it back in 1977 in That Obscure Object of Desire. But the Cotayos lay claim to a cinematic first: They use this device with two characters in their movie. Actors John Sandifer and James Baldwin trade off playing Tex Mallory, an agent Dr. Swann assigns to ensure his assassination scheme is executed on schedule.

A synopsis of the film in the press kit sent to New Times explains that this "illusion of facial duality...departs from all genre conventions and becomes a first in the history of motion pictures."

"It was missing something, and we didn't know what it was," recalls Charles. "So we finally said, 'Why don't we try this?' We said, 'Why not take that to an extreme?'"

The Cotayos are confident that the duality will not simply cause confusion and make people get up and leave the theater. "Movies have been made to require little or no thinking," declares Charles. "This movie requires thinking. The form of the movie requires thinking. I mean, when was the last time you went to a movie and said, 'This mise en scene meant this or did this to me'?"

Still, George notes he wanted his film to have some moral substance. "Good conquers evil," he assures. "Love conquers all, in a sense. The evil of the film is [Dr. Swann's] manipulation and deception, and we see that today in society sometimes, especially in certain political areas." He cites Saddam Hussein as an example. "We just wanted to do something that was very intriguing, something that was very Alfred Hitchcock, because we're very influenced by him and by Orson Welles, as well as a lot of the European directors."

Also intriguing is some recent publicity Deco has received. El Nuevo Herald staff writer Erwin Perez's October 30 story about Deco identified Charles as George's brother but did not reveal that he works for the paper as a reporter. Charles says he did not advocate for the article. He says he merely dropped off a press kit to "Galeria" page editor Gloria Leal. "George said, 'Would you do me the favor of delivering this?'" Charles recalls. "I said, 'I will do it, but that's it.' I told him I wasn't going to pitch this to the paper. I'm not my brother's publicist. Under no circumstances do I pitch this movie."

Though getting an article on Deco into the paper may have been a coup, the Cotayos will need far more than El Nuevo-style boosterism of local Cuban artists to succeed in their planned assault on the Sundance festival. About 100 of 2000 submissions are accepted each year. Nevertheless, high on Deco, the Cotayos' press release announces the movie's "world premiere" at Sundance.

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