6.02.2009

SANTIAGO ALVAREZ: NOW!



Using available newsreel and crime scene film stock and set to a scorching track by jazz chanteuse (and activist) Lena Horne, Santiago Alvarez's Now! is a key work in the development of Cuban cinema. The island's long history of of conflict and privation stunted the development of modern art forms; before 1959, there was virtually no trace of a native film industry.

After Castro took power in 1959, he busied himself installing socialist government agencies responsible for health care, housing and promotion of the arts. The Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematogr√°ficos (Cuban Film Institute, or ICAIC) was one of the very first, established a mere three months after the revolution. Government funding combined with a near-vacuum of an arts scene engendered wild creativity among the filmmakers, musicians, and graphic artists employed by the ICAIC. The results were stunning and vivid: pop art with an eye towards the Cuban mandate of solidarity and internationalism.

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