03/21/13 - Los Angeles Times - Latin world mourns Cuban film producer
Carlos Vives, dead at 71
Since Cuban film producer Carlos Vives died in Havana last week at 71,
tributes have floated in from newspapers and websites across the
Spanish-speaking world. Except, of course, in the United States, where
because of Cold War-era political rationales Cuban culture remains largely
a taboo topic.
By any measure, Vives was a cinematic mogul, with more than 130 works to
his credit, including about 40 feature films. More significantly, he backed
a number of movies that delved deep into the intricacies of Cuban society
and the complex daily lives of ordinary people, while quietly challenging
the island nation's communist orthodoxies.
One of these was the 1993 "Fresa y chocolate" (Strawberry and Chocolate),
which was distributed in the United States by Miramax and may be Vives'
best-known film outside of his homeland (he served as an executive
Set in Havana in 1979, the movie explores the relationship between David, a
university student, and Diego, a gay artist who is pushing back against the
Castro government's policies toward gays and lesbians as well as its rigid,
state-sanctioned notions of Cuban culture. Rising above political
platitudes, "Fresa y chocolate" was "not a movie about the seduction of a
body, but about the seduction of a mind," as Chicago Sun-Times critic
Roger Ebert wrote. "It is more interested in politics than sex -- unless
you count sexual politics, since to be homosexual in Cuba is to make an
anti-authoritarian statement whether you intend it or not."
According to a number of reports, Vives began his film career with the
Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos, which was created
in 1959 shortly after the start of the Cuban revolution. By the 1970s he
was directing ICAIC's production studios. Among the other films he was
associated with were director Humberto Solas' "Lucia" (1968), which
dramatized the lives of three Cuban women, each named Lucia, during three
pivotal epochs: the war of independence from Spain in the 1890s, the 1930s,
and the 1960s; and "Suite Habana" (2003), a documentary tone poem that
depicts a day in the life of 10 ordinary Havana dwellers using only imagery
According to the Madrid newspaper El Pais, Vives also was at the forefront
of arranging co-productions between Cuba and Spain, the rest of Europe and
Latin America, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s
left the Cuban economy in shambles. And, also according to El Pais, when
the ICAIC lost its monopoly over Cuban film production in the last decade
and a new generation of young filmmakers began financing their own movies,
Vives supported the transition.
It was a suitable gesture for a filmmaker who appeared to put art above
political propaganda or profit.
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Visible links 1. Havana (Cuba)
2. Chicago Sun-Times
3. Roger Ebert
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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