San Francisco
San Francisco
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

He Who Hits First, Hits Twice:The Urgent Cinema of Santiago Alvarez

Friday, January 31, 2003
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
992 Valencia @ 21 st San Francisco 415-824-3890

Rachael's Film Night at ATA The films of Cuban director Santiago Alvarez are inextricably linked to the United States, and nearly all of his key works concern some matter of American history: the civil rights movement, the wars in South-East Asia, U.S. interventions in the Americas. They exist as a kind of fractured mirror to the last 40 years of American history-a subversive, alternate history. Alvarez's first exposure to radical politics came while he worked briefly as an immigrant coal miner in Pennsylvania in the 1940s (with the outbreak of war, he returned to Cuba). He didn't produce his first film until he was in his forties, but the indefatigable Cuban director more than compensated for lost time. In a film career which began with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and continued until his death in 1998 at the age of 79, he directed nearly 700 films. Lacking formal training, Alvarez was tapped to direct the Cuban Film Institute's (ICAIC) newsreel division Noticiero ICAIC. The choice was one of political utility and little artistic ability was expected from the novice director. Yet over the next 30 years, Alvarez supervised the production of nearly 1500 weekly newsreels and in the process transformed a banal and wholly utilitarian genre into a veritable laboratory of radical innovation. Although he produced works of nearly every conceivable length, it is surely in the short film that his audacious talent is most impressively manifest. Now | 6 min. | 1965. "Using a Lena Horne song that was banned in the United States, Alvarez constructs a powerful montage on racial discrimination in the USAS(. The film is impressive not only for the resourcefulness with which it uses its found materials, including pirated newsreels, but also for the syncopation of the editing, which intensifies the insistence of the song itself." Cerro Pelado | 34 min. | 1966 . "The film takes as its title the name of the boat that carried the Cuban sports team to the 10th Central American and Caribbean Games, which in 1966 were held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the United States attempted to prevent Cuban participation. By now, Alvarez has developed the principal characteristics of his style. The film is constructed in the form of a chronological visual narration of the sequence of events, with minimal verbal commentary, interspersed with sections using montage and captions to expound the political background to the central events. Music is used in place of commentary to narrate the film." Hanoi Martes 13 (Hanoi Tuesday the 13th) | 38 min . | 1967. Filmed in Hanoi on December 13, 1966, this documentary records the lives of people in the Vietnam capital and surrounding countryside at the height of U.S. bombing. "One of Alvarez's indisputable masterpieces, this is a film of great sensitivity. It also displays the greatest integrity and is constructed with the greatest economy of meansS(. Although the means are of the simplest, the editing is exceedingly subtle. The narrative line is there, yet it's anything but linear. The result is that the film informs in a way quite alien to what documentary orthodoxy has taught us to expect." LBJ | 18 min. | 1968. "LBJ is deservedly one of Alvarez's best known shorts, a stunning piece of visual and musical montage using found materials, reaching a high pitch of satire Alvarez seems to have reserved for President Johnson. The film contains three main sections, with a prologue and an epilogue. The sections correspond to the three letters of Johnson's initials. Alvarez uses them to stand for Luther as in Martin Luther King, Bob as in Robert Kennedy, and Jack or John, his brother. It's a bold play on the strange coincidence that the corpses of these three men littered Johnson's ascent. The film steers pretty close to libel, so to speak, in linking Johnson to the assassinations, but this is not the pointS(. What Alvarez does is to portray Johnson's presidency as the culmination of a whole history of socio-political corruption, not of individual presidential corruption of a kind that was yet to come." info:, 510.208.1706
Added to the calendar on Tue, Feb 3, 2004 10:24AM
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$60.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network