Entertainment

A 26-Year-Old Has Created the Underground Netflix of Cuba

Cubans have found a way around the Cuban government’s strangle hold on digital media via a DIY subscription service called El Paquete Semanal. A new report from Vox shows how with very limited Internet access, Cubans are able to get their hands on the latest movies, music, and television for only a few bucks a week.

El Paquete Semanal is one Cuban’s middle finger to the digital media embargo in Cuba.

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Credit: Vox / YouTube

For more than 50 years, Cubans have essentially been cut off from the Western World, especially when it comes to movies, music, and television. Imagine having The Walking Dead banned from your TV.

A group of people in the US and Cuba are making it possible for Cubans to get their Game of Thrones and Beyonce fix without the Internet.

Network
Credit: Vox / YouTube

And they are taking that content and distributing it to all of their subscribers around the country. Yes, they have subscribers just like Netflix and Hulu.

READ: Cuban Youth So Hungry for American Trends, They are Willing to Risk Everything

All the movies, songs, and shows are put on a hard drive and replicated so the weekly entertainment can be hand-delivered throughout Cuba.

And this shit isn’t like the bootleg DVDs you might buy down the street. Everything is high quality and full HD.

High Quality
Credit: Vox / YouTube

?

Being a member costs you about $2 USD a week, less than a movie ticket.

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Credit: Parks and Recreation / NBC / allfatherthor / Tumblr

It is such a lucrative business that Cuban media is now paying for subscriptions in El Paquete Semanal.

“We exist on the Internet but the Paquete Semanal has such a wide range of distributors and it’s sold all across the country,”Antoinette Duquesne, a writer for the Cuban magazine Vistar told BBC. “So, this is the best way for us to connect with our audience.”

Subscribers can pick and choose what they want to watch/listen to but many just get the full terabyte of entertainment.

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Credit: Vox / YouTube

“I can copy whatever I want,” Ana Lauren of Havana, Cuba told BBC. “If I don’t want to copy music this week I don’t have to. I only copy the things and shows that I want to use this week.”

There are small groups specializing in different entertainment media, gathering the latest and hottest stuff worth watching and listening to.

How THey Gather Content
Credit: Vox / YouTube

READ: Cubans Just Got WiFi This Year and They Already Figured Out How to Use it To Migrate Safely to the U.S.

They even have it down to a science so they can deliver the most current entertainment possible.

Stuff They Have
Credit: Vox / YouTube

El Paquete Semanal has given some Cuban youths a chance for much needed and hard to find income in the communist regime.

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Credit: Vox / YouTube

And it also serves as an underground Craigslist where Cubans can get and exchange goods and services without the constant barrage from the Cuban government regulating the amount of good they are allowed.

But who is the person in charge? He goes by the name Dany Paquete.

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Credit: Vox / YouTube

I see what you did there, Señor Paquete. #clever

The 26-year-old has become something of a digital media kingpin on the Caribbean island.

Chain of Command
Credit: Vox / YouTube

His business model has been so successful that a rival business offering the same service has emerged in Cuba. Paquete welcomes the competition to push them to progress.

It’s impossible to know how many Cubans use El Paquete Semanal, but the service touches the whole country.

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Credit: Vox / YouTube

And if someone doesn’t use the service, they definitely know about it.

READ: These Secret Bedrooms Tell You A Lot More About Cuba

Check out the full video below:

Credit: Vox / YouTube

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Two Women In Cuba Invented An Extraordinary Way To Deliver Pizza From Their Rooftop Apartment

Culture

Two Women In Cuba Invented An Extraordinary Way To Deliver Pizza From Their Rooftop Apartment

Great Big Story / YouTube

If you have a passion for something, there isn’t anyone or anything that will stop you from doing it. Success in any field, whether it is in your career, personal growth, family goals, etc., takes persistence and dedication. You must have a clear vision of how to make your goals and dreams a realization. The key is also understanding when to listen to others and follow critical advice. These are the many lessons we learned from two incredible Latina entrepreneurs from Cuba. 

Marta Castaeda is the owner of A Mi Manera (My Way) Pizzeria in Havana, Cuba, who found a perfect solution to selling pizzas from her apartment. 

Credit: Great Big Story / YouTube

Castaeda began her pizza business in 2010 with her husband, but after his unfortunate death, Castaeda partnered up with another woman, Marta del Barrio, and a new chapter of her business came to fruition.

According to Great Big Story, who interviewed the two women, the Marta’s said that they initially sold their pizza in a standard way. You see, they run their business from their apartment, and their kitchen is on the top floor of the building. When the pizzas were ready to serve, one of the Marta’s would have to walk down the flight of stairs, hand it to the customer, and walk back up. Castaeda said this method was tiresome. We can only imagine. Then a stroke of genius changed everything for their business. 

Lots of people suggested ways to perfect their business, but one person gave a stellar idea on how to sell pizzas more efficiently: send the pizza down on a basket. 

Credit: Great Big Story / YouTube

The invention worked. From then on the women took the orders downstairs, they’d call it up to the cook via phone, make the pizza, and deliver it down on the basket. While this is most definitely a clever and marketable way to sell pizza, they — like any business — also had some hiccups with this clever invention.

Castaeda recalled that one time, while a pizza was being sent down on a basket, it fell out and landed on a woman’s head. Now, we’ve lived in New York City long enough to know that if something is going to hit us on the head, we sure would rather be struck by a pizza than anything else. 

Castaeda is proud of her business, her partner, and how they’ve managed to be a successful, money-making venture in a nontraditional capitalist country. 

Credit: Great Big Story / YouTube

“Here we have to find a way to sell, to be able to maintain the license, so that’s what we have done with our resources, look for solutions,” Castaeda said, according to The Cuban History. She also said that people come from all over the island — not to mention all over the world — to try out her pizza. But mostly to see the pizza come down in its signature way from the rooftop. 

The name of her business A Mi Manera is at the heart of what makes this pizzeria a hit with the people. 

Credit: Great Big Story / YouTube

Castaeda discloses that pizzas are made exactly how the people want it. They can choose from a variety of toppings because the real taste that differentiates this pizza from the rest is in the sauce and handmade dough. While she does not disclose what’s exactly in the recipe, the pizzas are clearly a hit because people come from everywhere just to eat them. 

According to The Cuban History, each pizza typically sells for 12 Cuban pesos which are about 50 cents. We have one piece of advice for the owners of A Mi Manera pizzeria: increase those prices! Especially for tourists!! We also suggest they trademark this clever way of selling pizzas. We’re certain any pizza entrepreneur in the United States will see this and try to market it for themselves. 

At the end of the day, Castaeda said it’s not about making money but rather enjoying each other’s company by providing good food and humor.  

Credit: Great Big Story / YouTube

“Pizza helps Cuba survive and persevere,” Castaeda said in her interview with Great Big Story. She adds that they are always looking for ways to improve their business and she’s always open to new ideas especially from her partner. 

So how do they keep up with demand even on the busiest days? Castaeda said she always ready to for light humor on the job and is ready to make someone smile. 

“I always try to do things while laughing,” she said, “because laughter brightens up the day.” 

This woman needs to be lecturing business courses at every top university! Now, for the most important information. A Mi Manera Pizzeria is located at 919 Neptuno, La Habana, Cuba. You’re welcome! 

READ: Chicago’s Deep Dish Pizza Is Getting A Mexican Makeover

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

Entertainment

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

When it comes to grooming a daughter’s hair, Black fathers haven’t been shy about expressing the difficulties that come along with the morning ritual. And Afro-Latino fathers are no exception. In Latinx communities with large Afro-Latino populations, having “good hair” is a label we all have to contend with. Young girls have a lot of pressure put on them to look put-together so, by extension, our families look put together. 

We all have memories of our mothers making sure our baby-bangs were smoothed down and our outfits were washed and pressed to perfection. 

Being well-groomed is so important to Afro-Latinos who face societal pressure to look perfect in order to combat bias.

Kickstarter

So, when fathers occasionally have to groom their children when their mother is unavailable, the pressure, needless to say, is on. We’ve all seen the genre of viral videos where fathers struggle to part, brush, braid and secure their daughters’ hair–obviously not previously aware of all the labor that goes into daily hair upkeep. Even celebrities have gotten in on the trend with men like Alexis Ohanian, husband to Serena Williams, joining “Natural Hair” groups on Facebook to learn more about their children’s rizos

Writer/director Matthew Cherry wanted to explore the topic of Black fathers doing their daughters hair, so he decided to make an animated short about it.

Kickstarter

According to Cherry, the short, titled “Hair Love” is about a Black father (who has locs himself) who does his daughter’s hair for the first time. “You know how guys are, a lot of times we’re hard-headed and we think we can figure everything out by ourselves without asking for help,” said Cherry during an interview. “[The father in the short] thinks it’s going to be an easy task but he soon finds out her hair has a mind of its own”. 

The father isn’t the only one who learns a lesson in self-confidence in the course of the film, though. In the end, the young girl also “comes into a level of self-confidence in the process” of her father learning how to do her hair. So, in other words, the entire film is an ode to self-love, family, and the priceless experience of bonding.

To finance “Hair Love”, Cherry created a Kickstarter campaign with the initial goal of raising $75,000. The campaign quickly caught the internet’s attention and became a viral phenomenon thanks to celebrity champions like Issa Rae and Jordan Peele. The $75,000 goal was quickly surpassed. All in all, the campaign raked in a total of $280,000–smashing Kickstarter’s short-film financing records. 

Cherry recruited Black animators like “Proud Family”‘s Bruce W. Smith and “WALL-E”‘s Everett Downing Jr. to help him make his dreams a reality.

As for Cherry, he’s candid about the reason he decided to explore the topic of Black hair and Black fathers: because mainstream media’s representation has left much to be desired. According to Cherry, not only did he want to shine a light on the labor of love that doing Black hair requires, but he wanted to highlight the relationships between Black fathers and their daughters. 

“For me, I just think it was really important to shine a light on Black fathers doing domestic things with their kids because mainstream media would lead you to believe that Black fathers aren’t a part of their kids’ lives”, Cherry said. “And there have been a lot of recent surveys that actually show otherwise–that show that Black fathers are just as involved in their kids’ lives as any other racial group”.

Now, “Hair Love” will be played ahead of “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters nationwide

Kickstarter

The nationwide release will provide a massive platform for an under-told story. Not to mention, it will provide Black children with their own images reflected back to them–something many of them haven’t seen before. Not to mention, the security of a theatrical release has made “Hair Love” officially eligible for an Academy Award nomination. 

As for Cherry, he’s over-the-moon about the opportunity for his project to be seen by millions of people. “To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true,” he said in a press statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for “Hair Love” to be playing with “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in front of a wide audience and for the world to see our touching story about a Black father trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair for the very first time.”

We’ll admit: we didn’t have plans to see “Angry Birds 2” in theaters before we knew about this. But now, you might just see us on opening night, standing in line for the movie right next to our fathers! Catch “Hair Love” before  “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters on August 14th.

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