Now, 1965, Santiago Álvarez

Films by Santiago Álvarez

Now CU, 1965, 35mm, bw, 6 min
Hasta la victoria siempre CU, 1967, 35mm, bw, 19 min
L.B.J. CU, 1968, 35mm, Farbe und bw, 19 min
79 primaveras CU, 1969, 35mm, bw, 24 min
Already in early 1959, immediately after the success of the revolution, Fidel Castro issued an order to create a state institute for "cinematographic art and industry," recognizing cinema as "the most powerful and provocative form of artistic expression, and the most direct and widespread vehicle for education and bringing ideas to the public." What this new production and distribution organization (ICAIC) lacked in resources and experience, it made up for in revolutionary enthusiasm. In response to Castro’s demand to immediately start making films, Santiago Álvarez, one of the founding members, famously replied: "Give me two photos, music, and a moviola, and I'll give you a movie." What followed was a massive outpouring of almost one hundred mostly documentary shorts, made mostly out of already existing newsreel footage that was available to Cuba at the time, where revolutionary editing techniques were employed to tackle the pressing political issues of the time, from racism to imperialism. Travis Wilkerson, director of Accelerated Under-Development: In the Idiom of Santiago Álvarez (1999), provided perhaps the most eloquent and concise description of Santiago Álvarez's unique films, defining them as "always political, often didactic. They could be playful or deadly serious. They were born of rage, bitter irony, and an almost limitless solidarity. They could be raucous or silent, brief or monumental, laconic or verbose. They were prone to tangents, but could be as eloquent as poetry. They never sought perfection. They were never made with posterity in mind. They were made for the here and the now. They showed the world to be forever changing, and changeable." (Jurij Meden)