The State and the Digital: Digital Shorts by Young Cuban Filmmakers
Introduction by Laura-Zoë Humphreys, Ph.D. candidate, Departments of Cinema & Media Studies and Anthropology.
Throughout the Cuban Revolution, the state film institute (ICAIC) produced and distributed almost all Cuban films. Since the late 1990s, however, digital technologies have enabled both the decentralization of film production and an explosion of work by new Cuban filmmakers. Drawing on new production methods, subject matter and film styles, emerging filmmakers are producing short fiction, documentaries and even features either independently or under the auspices of Cuba’s two film schools.
Cuban filmmakers Alina Rodríguez Abreu, Esteban Insausti, and Angélica Salvador, key figures in this wave of digital filmmaking, present some of the best of these works. Ranging from documentaries to fiction, comedies to contemplative dramas, these shorts reveal young Cubans’ varied perspectives on life and art.
El color de Elisa (The Color of Elisa)
Lucas and Elisa are united by their love for the cinema. Believing that in Elisa he has found his muse, Lucas films her every moment until his obsession pushes their relationship to its limit. (Alina Rodríguez, 2010, MiniDV, 18 min.)
Antonio struggles to catch the attention of his girlfriend, Maria, as they sit on a park bench and watch life in the park go by. As night falls, Antonio must decide between abandoning the situation and continuing to pursue his love. (Sebastián Milo, 2007, DVD, 19 min.)
A group of domino players, three women, a teacher and his student engage in a conversation about art that becomes lively in unexpected ways. (Arturo Infante, 2004, MiniDV, 13 min.)
After centuries in which Cuban economic and social life was organized around sugar production, the Cuban government closed half of its sugar mills in 2002 and 2003. This beautiful elegy for the mill registers the feelings of workers as they watch their way of life disappear. (Alejandro Ramírez, 2004, DVCam, 12 min.)
Buscandote Havana (Looking for Havana)
Every year, Cubans from the Eastern part of the island (orientales) immigrate to Havana in search of a better life, defying state laws that restrict where people can live. This compelling documentary offers a revealing glimpse into their lives and struggles in their illegal settlements on the outskirts of the capital. (Alina Rodríguez, 2006, MiniDV, 21 min.)
El patio de mi casa (My Patio)
A woman washes her family’s laundry and dreams. In the midst of grandparents, children, and clotheslines, fantasies and reality intermingle. (Patricia Ramos Hernández, 2007, DVCam, 13 min.)
This is the second of a two-part series on national filmmaking and the digital in Cuba. See the event blog for information about other events this week.
Series coordinated by Laura-Zoë Humphreys and Davis Reek, M.A. Humanities, University of Chicago.
Alina Rodríguez Abreu Born in Havana in 1984, Alina Rodríguez graduated from Cuba’s national art school, the ISA, with a specialization in direction. With her documentary Buscándote Havana (Looking for Havana) and her recent short fiction El color de Elisa (The Color of Elisa), Alina Rodríguez has established herself as one of Cuba’s most exciting young directors in the independent film movement. These short films won several awards at the Youth Film Showcase in Havana, including best script, best actress, and special mentions. In 2008, she made her first venture into working at the ICAIC as one of the directors of an omnibus documentary on Cuba’s international literacy brigades.
Angélica Salvador Born in Havana in 1975, Angélica Salvador graduated from Cuba’s national art school, the ISA, with a specialization in editing. She began her professional career working as editor and assistant editor on several important ICAIC and independent productions. She is at the forefront of the rising generation of editors who have taken editing work out of the ICAIC and to home computers, helping to foment a new movement of low-budget filmmaking. She has been a close collaborator with Esteban Insausti for years, editing several of his works including his recent feature, Larga distancia (Long Distance).
Esteban Insausti Born in Havana in 1971, Esteban Insausti graduated from Cuba’s national art school, the ISA, with a specialization in direction. He has also studied at Cuba’s international film school, the EICTV. He began his professional career as a scriptwriter for Cuban television at age 19 and later became one of Cuba’s first independent filmmakers. His fiction and documentary shorts have won prizes at Montreal’s Festival des films du monde, the New Latin American Film Festival and the Youth Film Showcase in Havana; his films have been part of the official selection at Cannes, Montreal, Biarritz, and Huelva Film Festivals. With his first feature film, Larga distancia (Long Distance), he took the new production methods he learned through independent filmmaking back into work at the Cuban state film institute, the ICAIC.
Co-sponsored by the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Arts Council, the Franke Institute, and the Film Studies Center Graduate Student Curatorial Program.