This is an important year on many fronts for Cuban filmmakers. It is the 50th anniversary of the revolution that toppled the Washington-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), which Fidel Castro's administration established to develop the country's movie industry, also celebrates its first half-century this year. Just as Cubans look ahead apprehensively to what the post-Fidel era may bring, so too does its film industry. Filmmakers must consider what a thaw in relations with the US might mean for their work. Veteran Cuban actress Mirtha Ibarra - who presided over the Latin American films competition at last year's San Sebastian Film Festival - is among those most concerned about such a prospect. She is the torch-bearer for her husband, the late Tomas Gutierrez Alea, the most well-known Cuban director in recent decades thanks to films such as Memories of Underdevelopment (1968) and the Oscar-nominated Strawberry and Chocolate (1993). What effect will Raul Castro becoming leader have on Cuban cinema? Change takes time. The fact that Fidel was succeeded by his brother, Raul, doesn't mean changes will come immediately. We have to wait and see how things develop, but it will take time. Moreover, after the two hurricanes Cuba suffered [last year], we will have to wait longer. Cinema and money are closely related. Cuba does not even have the money to rebuild the country, so there's no possibility there's money for the film industry; films are, after all, a luxury. What do you think about the new generation of Cuban filmmakers? As with mainland Chinese filmmakers, they seem to be increasingly shaped by outside influences. In China the new generation was born into capitalism and it is living in capitalism. In Cuba children were born into socialism and are still living in socialism! [She laughs.] The most important difference [between past and current filmmakers] is commitment. The previous generation was fighting before the revolution, to improve society and change things. That's why [Gutierrez Alea] always made critical films ... he was fighting for [the values that inspired] the revolution before the revolution even appeared, and after that he was trying to save it. For young Cubans today, their relationship with the world is very different. They were only told about how bad it was before - the prostitution, the misery, the corruption. They don't really know what it was like, so they don't have the commitment to change things. Cuban films remain under the international radar. What is the state of the Cuban film industry today? New technology is going to be very important because it will open up new paths for our young people. In Cuba, we have two international film schools, the San Antonio de los Banos [International Movie and Television School] and the Cuban Film School. There's going to be a new generation of auteurs and we have to wait and see whether they have the cultural background [needed to be a filmmaker]. You cannot go in depth on any topic if that background is missing, the knowledge that Titon [Gutierrez Alea] had. There are many directors doing interesting things but they lack that depth. There's a second generation of filmmakers, including Fernando Perez and Juan Carlos Tabio [who co-directed Gutierrez Alea's last two films, Strawberry and Chocolate and Guantanamera], and they have that background. [Perez] did interesting films like Suite Habana [a documentary about 10 ordinary Cubans living in the country's capital], a very realistic film about the situation in Cuba. There's no dialogue in the film at all.