- In the Idiom of Santiago Alvarez
/ 1999 / English, Spanish / Color, B&W / 16mm / 56 min
Director, Script, Photography, Editing, Sound: Travis Wilkerson
Producer: Susan Fink
Production Company, Source: Up Front Films
23414 Magic Mountain Parkway, #1210
Valencia, California 91355, U.S.A.
Phone & Fax:1-661-799-9959
Born in 1969 in Denver, Colorado. After studying Comparative Literature
in college, he turned to filmmaking and completed a number of short
experimental works including Hands, and Hanoi Diary.
Accelerated Development is his first feature film. At present,
he is completing his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts,
and working to complete his next film 3-7-77, which concerns the unsolved
murder in 1917 of radical labor organizer Frank Little in Butte, Montana.
Development uses the life of Cuban documentary filmmaker Santiago
Alvarez to portray the radical changes that have taken place in the
20th century. After studying philosophy and literature at Havana University,
Alvarez (1919-1988) studied abroad in the USA, an experience that
taught him the realities of imperialism. In the 1950s, he produced
music shows for the newly-formed Cuban television network and participated
in the movement against the Batista regime. After the revolution,
he entered the Cuban Institute of Film Art and Industry (ICAIC), where
he studied cinema. From 1961 onwards, his richly innovative documentary
films on Cuban society and the oppressed third world earned him high
acclaim at home and abroad. This film, which presents Alvarez's life
in ten chapters, borrows from Alvarez's methods of expression, combining
Alvarez's words with segments and snippits of his films into an experimental
construction opposing image, word and music. The film also reconstructs
from a new angle the major events of the 20th century, events that
Alvarez himself portrayed. The title phrase, Accelerated Development,
is Alvarez's own, and describes how rapid changes in Cuban society
after the revolution led him to filmmaking.
Santiago Alvarez understood that every film functions
as a form of intervention - political and aesthetic. With Accelerated
Development, I chose to intervene on behalf of the films of Santiago
What kind of films were they? They were always political, often didactic.
They could be playful or deadly serious. They were borne of rage,
bitter irony, and an almost limitless solidarity. They could be raucous
or silent, brief or monumental, laconic or verbose. They were prone
to tangents, but could be as eloquent as poetry. They never sought
perfection. They were never made with posterity in mind. They were
made for the here and the now. They showed the world to be forever
changing, and changeable. They used every means at their disposal.
Frequently, this meant they were made with next to nothing at all.
"Give me two photos, music, and a moviola..." he said, "and
I'll give you a movie." And what a movie it would be.
Accelerated Development is, in short, a gesture of admiration.
It carries the subtitle, In the Idiom of Santiago Alvarez.
COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee