Conectifai! Filming a digital revolution in Havana

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Conectifai! Filming a digital revolution in Havana

The latest Guardian documentary finds out what happened when Cuba’s phone company installed wifi routers in 18 public parks


In 2016, ETECSA – the only telephone company in Cuba – installed wifi routers in 18 public parks across the country. For many Cubans, this meant being able to go online for the first time. Our latest documentary paints a portrait of the social gathering hotspots these parks have since become. Every day crowds of people with smartphones, tablets and chairs turn up to cluster together around the wifi antennas, to a soundtrack of people shouting “conectifai!” (meaning “connection!”). It gives everyone the opportunity to contact loved ones, explore social media, upload photos and find internet dates – activities that reveal much about a rapidly changing Cuba.

The park wifi users help each other get online and roam around looking for better reception, before settling down to peer at their screens together. During the day, it’s mostly older women who turn up, but in the evenings there are groups of young people, flirting and engaging in more edgy wifi pursuits.

In the meantime, a very Cuban kind of commerce is also flourishing, with vendors selling internet cards, drinks and snacks, shouting slogans like “pork crackling with wifi”.

The film, directed by Cuban director Zoe Garcia, was developed through a programme at Havana’s EICTV film school for local documentary makers to produce a short about Cuba in transition. Garcia’s interest was more in the changes to everyday life rather than the much-discussed changes to politics. She discussed this in more detail in an interview at the Sundance film festival.

Conectifai was developed through an initiative supported by the Sundance Institute’s documentary film programme.

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