Budget Cuts, Harvest Deal Body Blows To Cuban Film

The Cuban Film Institute Icaic (Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos) is facing the worst economic challenge in its 32-year history, as 40% of its personnel has been sent to the fields to harvest crops.

With its approximate $10 million annual operating budget slashed in half, this year Icaic is producing a limited sked of shorts, docus, cartoons and weekly newsreels. Although traditionally short-funded, Icaic had managed to produce a regular slate of features, docus and other works.

This year, new feature production is restricted to co-prods, while the institute is struggling to finish various projects produced in 1989-90.

In development are only three new features, including “Vidas Paralelas” (Parallel Lives), by Pastor Vega, and “Mascaro, El Cazador” (Mascaro, The Hunter), both co-productions with TVE.

Six finished features

Last year, six new features were finished, several begun in 1988:

“La Muerte Inutil De Mi Socio Manolo” (The Useless Death Of My Pal Manolo), by film institute chief Julio Garcia Espinosa, based on the play “Mi Socio Manolo,” by Eugenio Hernandez.

“Bajo Presion” (Under Pressure), directed by Victor Casaus, based on Roberto Moreno’s critical play “Accidente,” exploring social corruption.

“La Mujer Transparente” (Transparent Women), an anthology film of three tales about contemporary women helmed by members of the Grupo de Creation headed by Humberto Solas. The group consists of directors Hector Veitia, Mayra Segura, Mayra Vilasis, Mario Crespo and Ana Rodriguez.

“Alicia En El Pueblo De Las Maravillas” (Alice In Wondertown), a political satire directed by Daniel Diaz Torres.

“Maria Antonia,” by Sergio Giral, based on the play of the same name by Eugenio Hernandez and starring Alina Rodriguez in the title role.”

“Hello Hemingway,” directed by Fernando Perez, based on an original script about a neighbor of Ernest Hemingway who comes of age in 1956.

Co-productions

Icaic participated in the following co-productions:

“Caravana” (Convoy), a Cuban-Angolan venture co-directed by Rogelio Paris and former Cuban war correspondent Julio Cesar Rodriguez.

“Confesion A Laura” (Confession To Laura), a co-prod between Icaic, Melies Producciones of Colombia and Spain’s TVE, directed by Colombian Jaime Osorio Gomez.

“A Manzanita Del Diablo” (The Devil’s Little Apple), directed by Federico Garcia, a romantic comedy made in co-prod with Peru’s Cinematografica Kuntur.

“Robinson,” Cuban-Hungarian co-production, directed by Timar Peter.

Still to come

Currently in postproduction are the following films:

“La Siglo De Las Luces” (The Century of Lights), based on the novel by Alejo Carpentier and helmed by Humberto Solas and filmed in co-prod with France and Spain’s TVE. To be released as both a theatrical feature and a six-hour tv miniseries.

“Asi Comenzo El Camino” (That’s How It All Began), a feature-length docu by Octavio Cortazar.

“Adorables Mentiras” (Adorable Lies), a first feature by Gerardo Chijona, from a script he developed at the Sundance Institute and co-produced with TVE.

“Medicos Rurales” (Rural Doctors), about a med school grad in 1960 who works in the Sierra Maestra, by Octavio Cortazar.

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