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The fiction feature film Leyenda, co-directed by Rogelio Paris and Jorge Fraga, premiered on a day like today, 40 years ago, produced by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC), and based on real events.
Leyenda, a film noir, reflects the convulsive Cuban reality in the final period of Fulgencio Batista's dictatorship and the triumph of the Revolution.
In 96 minutes, the film tells the story of Ricardo Fanjul, a Cuban counterrevolutionary and CIA agent, who is found dead on a yacht at sea; through a parallel montage, the filmmakers go through the life of this man and the steps of the CIA's investigation to discover if he was a double agent.
Fanjul was of bourgeois origin, but he undergoes a progressive psychological evolution that leads him to identify with revolutionary ideals and, with this, to infiltrate the CIA and Miami-based groups as a spy for Cuban security.
With screenplay by Luis Rogelio Nogueras and Miguel Torres, the film is produced by Sergio San Pedro, cinematography by Luis García Mesa, editing by Roberto Bravo, art direction by Luis Lacosta, sound by Germinal Hernández, and original music by Juan Márquez.
Luis Rogelio Nogueras, (Havana, November 17, 1944 - July 6, 1985), poet, storyteller and film scriptwriter, from this script he wrote his renowned novel Nosotros los sobrevivientes (We the Survivors), published in 1982 in Cuba and Spain.
One of the strengths of this film is the cast he managed to assemble, "an all-star cast": Nelson Villagra, Susana Pérez, Luis Alberto García, Omar Valdés, René de la Cruz, Samuel Claxton, Raúl Pomares, Mario Balmaseda, Germán Pinelli, Aramís Delgado, Angel Toraño, Manuel Porto, Rogelio Blaín, and Ramón Veloz, among others.
Leyenda is a tribute to so many anonymous heroes, so many double agents who gave their lives to defend Cuba and its social project, and a well-deserved tribute that "we the survivors" must offer, because we thank them for our survival.
(Taken from Cubarte)
In some notes published on the Internet, it is taken for granted that the "first cinematographic exhibitions took place in Cienfuegos at the Tomás Terry Theater in 1901". Apart from the grammatical and stylistic inaccuracies, the text (which cites a research carried out by four specialists of the Provincial Film Center, now retired from the institution) makes several mistakes that do not do justice to the city and the place where the arrival of the seventh art took place. When did cinema arrive in the Pearl of the South? Who is the giver of this novelty?
Since the end of the 19th century, Telesforo Alfonso de Armas has taken advantage of the facades of buildings to advertise current products, a purpose that brings him close to the work performed by José G. González and his commercial announcer in the capital, so we could consider him as an antecedent in these areas. Between 8:30 and 10:00 p.m. it offers to exhibit all the modalities to the use: announcements by the procedure of portraits, colored bottoms, views of establishments and others requested by the users; in the same way, it assures its projection in stays of societies, roofs, schools, meetings and theaters.
Newspaper clip about Edison´s vitascope
Faced with the push of the Lumiére cinema in the capital, the representatives of Thomas Alva Edison hastened their tour of the island. On the night of Saturday, March 20, 1897, one of the emissaries settles in Cienfuegos and premieres the vitascope, before the surprised group that attends the premises located on San Fernando Street, on the corner of Bouyón, where the Ferrer Palace is erected. "An infinity of people flocked there to admire the remarkable invention of the famous electrician Edison", states the chronicler F. Díaz del Vallín in his section La Semana, of the newspaper El Nacional (Cienfuegos, Sunday, March 21, 1897, p. 2).
This new invention of recreational physics had been promoted since February 13 in the Cuban capital, where it was inaugurated at the Salón de Variedades o Ilusiones Ópticas, located at 118 Prado Street. It was then shown as a strong competitor of the Lumiére cinema, projecting "vivid pictures and current scenes" on a canvas picture and advertising itself as a superior artifact to the French one. The vitascope, the creation of Thomas Armat, cynically improved by Edison himself, allowed simultaneous perception and relied on a form of film sliding, in which a period of illumination is followed by a period of darkness.
For 30 cents for adults and 30 cents for children, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., the public could enjoy an entertaining program of views, in the style of Niagara Falls, Scenes from a Bath, The Black Diamond Express, The Cervantes Trade Pump, The Great Steamship St. Louis, The Buffalo Express and Chicago, The Spanish Marines, among others. These are the same short films exhibited in Havana a month earlier and which earned the criticism of the chronicler Jacobo Domínguez Santí: "The views are beautiful in their totality, but when projected on the canvas frame they "flicker" too much or appear blurred, dark, lacking in expression. In addition, the interludes from one view to the other are too long.
Immediately, the people of Cienfuegos did not have the opportunity to compare the quality of the images of the vitascope with that of its competitor Lumiére cinema; although they were dissatisfied with the small premises adapted due to the lack of ventilation. Seven days later, the arrival of a theater company, whose competition "forces" the American businessmen to leave the city, thus beginning the nomadic stage of cinema in Cienfuegos. It is true that on the night of Saturday, March 27, the locals barely attended the performance of the comedies Bruno the Weaver and Dorotea, both starring Ramiro la Presa, at the Tomás Terry Theater; however, they were enthusiastic about the artifact created by the Auguste and Louis Lumiére brothers. The following day, word spread of another "lantern" capable of displaying moving photographs.
The spectators who attended the Coliseo Mayor on the night of March 29, 1897, to see the premiere of the play En la cara está la verdad and the rest of the program announced by Ramiro la Presa's company, still ended up angry with the dullness of the performances. A chronicler of the newspaper El Comercial confessed to the readers: "Yesterday the drama Juan José was staged at Terry's theater. The play was, it seems, badly rehearsed. As they say in theater parlance, the artists were doing the play al toro, that is to say: trusting the prompter. That's how it went! Mr. Presa, once again performed Dorotea. For today announces the company In the face is the age and the exhibition of the wonderful invention the Lumiére cinematograph, which will present 15 precious views ending the function with Dorotea that will play Mr. La Presa, Frégoli ten different roles". It was Frégoli, the famous transformer, who introduced the cinematograph in the city, placing the exhibitions in the middle of the scenes. The actor owned an apparatus of his own and used to use it in his shows to facilitate costume and make-up changes.
Clearly, Cienfuegos became the seventh Latin American city to enjoy one of the greatest amusements created by man.
(Taken from 5 de Septiembre)
Cienfuegos, as a historical-cultural context, treasures an invaluable arsenal that thickens the list of heritage, if we are talking about popular music. Like other regions of Cuba, this central part of the country has developed its own way of making and performing music.
Undoubtedly, at present it is worrying the existence of scarce spaces that contribute to the diffusion of traditional popular music, without taking into account the levels of preference that this type of music has among the new generations, continuers of the legacy of men and women during all the stages of musical history. Traditions so deeply rooted in the territory of Cienfuegos as dancing or simply listening to a "good son", no longer find a place in the hectic life of the 21st century man, being relegated to the taste of those who are already combing some gray hair.
The province has traditionally possessed a quality artistic talent. At present -prior to the appearance of Covid-19-, the musicians were already considering that the spaces were reduced for the interpretation of our endogenous music, taking into consideration the actions of the province and the desires of all the artistic personnel. However, there are several factors that in one way or another intervene in the correct management of the promotion of Cuban popular music in the territory, whether they are of an economic, legislative or social nature.
Cuban cultural policy decisively supports creation, but this support should not be seen only as the specific economic retribution that authorial legislations can provide. It goes much further, as evidenced by the subsidy to many valuable cultural projects that cannot survive on their own. In addition, this subsidy helps to protect native genres of Cuban culture that make up a distinctive musical tradition. Such is the case of danzón and its derivative genres: son, rumba and peasant music; in groups such as the Conjunto Tradicional de Sones Los Naranjos, the ObbaIlú rumba group and the peasant music groups, among others.
In addition to these, there is the development of concert music, especially the municipal bands (Cienfuegos, Cruces, Lajas, Cumanayagua and Palmira), the Cantores de Cienfuegos and Canticus Novus choirs, as well as chamber music projects such as the Orquesta Concierto Sur, Avanti, Concertante and the Orquesta de Flautas, through which, in some way, our communities appreciate musical works of high technical level. Events of social impact are developed, such as the Benny Moré Festival, the Boleros de Oro International Festival and Cubadisco.
The city of Cienfuegos, in line with Cuban cultural policy, has cultural institutions such as the Café Theater, El Cubanísimo de Artex, Minerva Hall, the Houses of Culture, the Sainz Brothers Association (AHS) and the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Uneac), newly created open spaces, which also serve as stages for alternative music festivals that provide a cultural program for the enjoyment and enjoyment of our music identity.
The academic formation in this territory is an indispensable part for the conservation of the patrimony in the hands of the new generations; therefore, the Benny Moré School of Art, whose role is indispensable.
The Empresa Provincial Comercializadora de la Música y los Espectáculos (EPCME) Rafael Lay, should be governed by the cultural policy of our country in its highest aspiration, which has been committed to promote a cultural action from the roots, base of our society, and linked to the creative effort of the best of the Cuban intellectuality. To it is attributed the promotion, diffusion and protection of the artistic talent of the province and it is the one that must comply with the postulates that protect the cultural rights as far as music is concerned. However, there is still a lot of work to be done for these objectives to be fully met.
The scarce diffusion of Cuban popular music, specifically that of Cienfuegos, and therefore the existing limitation in the levels of promotion in charge of the different mass media, as well as institutional, is influenced by elements that condition and rule the tastes and preferences, which go hand in hand with the consumption and the musical diffusion. In the midst of an aestheticized consumer society where the media act as interlocutors and builders of scenes according to their interests, and where there is a whole intention of deforming sensitivity, we have to rethink and contextualize our traditions so that popular music is protected and does not die.
(Taken from 5 de Septiembre)
English version Hector Hdez.