This March, the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC, Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry) is celebrating 60 years of activity and having managed to bring a passion for cinema to all of Cuba.
The institution was founded on the first revolutionary law in the cultural field (#169) signed in 1959 by the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, along with other authorities at the time.
That regulation defines the character, strategy and objectives that would characterise the development of cinema in the country, working on the basis that “cinema is an art”.
The first article of the law made clear the intention of “organising, establishing and developing the cinematographic industry, attending to artistic criteria as defined in Cuban cultural tradition and the aims of the Revolution”.
The ICAIC fostered the training and collaboration of film professionals relevant to the continent and sought to exhibit works of international cinema with the aim of raising the cultural references of the audience: the people in general.
Thanks to the organisation’s effort, a system of mobile units brought cinema to the most intricate and distant places in the country for free, so that it would be accessible to all.
In the early 1960s, the ICAIC also sponsored the creation of the experimental sound group as a collective dedicated to the creation of music for documentaries and films.
This was intended to revive the prospects of Cuban music outside the market criteria and the director of the group was none other than Leo Brouwer, a name listed among those of Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanés, Noel Nicola and Sara González as well as other members of the group named Nueva Trova Cubana.
The ICAIC undoubtedly propagated other arts on the island and its main event remains one of the most prestigious on the continent: the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, whose next edition is scheduled to take place from 5th to 15th December.
To celebrate the anniversary, throughout 2019 the Cinemateca de Cuba will be offering a broad retrospective of the work of ICAIC over six decades at its headquarters – the Cine 23 y 12 in Havana.
The first commemorative events have already taken place: last week there was a space dedicated to reflecting on the organisation’s founding years, and a room dedicated to the Multicine Infanta of the country’s capital was inaugurated by Santiago Álvarez, one of the outstanding figures of Latin American cinema.
With the purpose of celebrating the centenary of the birth of Santiago Álvarez, the institution will dedicate the aforementioned room to the producing documentaries, which from then on will constitute the majority of its programming.
The ICAIC has already announced that it will present the 2019 National Film Prize to producer Miguel Mendoza, cinematographer Livio Delgado and sound engineer Jerónimo Labrada on 22nd March at the “Charles Chaplin” Cinema, the central event for the 60th anniversary.
Other activities planned for March include the opening of a bookstore at the Cine 23 y 12, the first in Cuba dedicated specifically to collecting literature about the Seventh Art, and the presentation of the documentary Portrait of an Always Adolescent Artist, a tribute to the director Julio García Espinosa. (PL)
(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)