September 8, 03
Vol. 19 , No. 01
View Entire Issue (Vol. 19 , No. 01)
Independent Cuban Short Films
JUAN ANTONIO GARCIA BORRERO, critic and film historian
EVERARDO CHAVEZ, film and performing arts producer
ERNESTO FUNDORA, film and video director, screenwriter
ALEJANDRIO RIOS, drama and literary critic, essayist
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2003
While Cuban cinema-which began with newsreel footage of the Spanish-American War-was born in the last decade of the 19th century, it was not until the 1959 revolution that it broke free of Hollywood's influence and the United States' concurrent cultural domination. Within three months of the rebels' victory over Batista's forces, the revolutionary government established the Cuban Institute of Art and Film Industry (ICAIC), which over the next several decades devoted itself to producing feature films, short subjects, and documentaries that cultural arbiters determined were the kind of cinema best suited to the needs of the people and rulers of the new Cuba.
Twentieth-century history has amply demonstrated that genius finds ways to prosper in even the most authoritarian, repressive, and isolationist of regimes. Such has been the case with Cuban cinema, which has emerged as a prevailing force in the collective memory of the Cuban people. For more than 40 years, master filmmakers like Tomas Gutierrez Alea (whose studies in Rome imbued his and others' work with the influence of Italian neorealism), Santiago Alvarez, Sara Gomez, and Humberto Solas have celebrated the lives of their fellow islanders by conscientiously and uncompromisingly addressing the domestic, socioeconomic, and political realities of everyday life. With such landmark films as Lucia (1969), Memories of Underdevelopment (1968), The Adventures of Juan Quin Quin (1966), and The First Charge of the Machete (1969), these and other directors established a perspective and a sense of place unique to, and reflective of, the Cuban experience.
This Athenaeum program will feature screenings of excerpts from several contemporary Cuban short films, with a presentation and commentary by prominent film and video directors and critics. These include film and performing arts producer Everardo Chavez, who will serve as program coordinator for this event; critic and film historian Juan Antonio Garcia Borrero, author of Guia critica del cine cubano de ficcion ("A Critical Guide to Cuban Fiction Cinema") La edad de la herejia ("The Age of Heresy"), and Rehenes de la sombra ("Hostages of Shadows"); film and video director, screenwriter, and Latin Grammy nominee Ernesto Fundora; and drama and literary critic and essayist Alejandro Rios. This event, coordinated by Professors Esther Hernandez and Mercedes Limon, is sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies.