Ediciones Icaic, the Cuban Film Institute's publishing house, presented a dozen titles at the 27th International Book Fair in Havana, with a thematic variety that should please readers who are also movie-lovers - of whom there are many in Cuba.
Mercy Ruiz, publishing director for the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) commented to GI that, although the enterprise is small, its books are always well received, saying, "We give fundamental space to film criticism. We include such important genres as chronologies, essays on filmmakers' works, music and religion in cinema, and we have even created a collection for children, Contar y cantar."
The Dulce María Loynaz Cultural Center, which was once the residence of the poet whose name it bears - winner of the National Prize for Literature and the Cervantes Prize - was the site selected by the ICAC publishers for most of their presentations. Only the children's books were launched at the Fair's principal venue at the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress.
One of the books now available to readers is Sara Gómez: un cine diferente, by essayist Olga García Yero. This filmmaker was the first Cuban woman to direct a feature length movie, De cierta manera, which was not concluded given her untimely death at 31 years of age, and finished, as stated in the book, "with the solidarity of Titón (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea) and other friends."
The essay was presented by poet Nancy Morejón, who said she believed that the book's content and publishing brings prestige to Ediciones Icaic, an important contribution about a figure as significant as Sara Gómez.
The National Literature Prize winner made a moving commentary, starting with her school days, when she shared classes with the extraordinary documentary filmmaker, saying, "She attempted to find the essence of our identity and this took her to film, first documentaries, and then this work of fiction that she was not able to complete, which has become a Cuban classic."
In Sara Gómez: un cine diferente, the essayist Olga García Yero addresses the filmmaker's development, her life, and the scope of her work, analyzing her complete documentary filmography, with special attention to De cierta manera,surprising readers with an interview with Sara by none other than the French writer and filmmaker Marguerite Duras, found in the Cinemateca de Cuba's archives, although "unfortunately" its exact date is not known.
Writer Francisco López Sacha was charged with the presentation of the book La música en el documental cubano: Santiago Álvarez, Rogelio París y Rigoberto López by José Loyola, and for starters described the work as "an important contribution, since music in Cuban film has not been studied deeply. Here music is studied, but not sound tracks."
Loyola addresses Cuban documentaries, that have achieved international prestige, recognized as a school, and along the way, López noted, develops a method of analysis to evaluate the relation between a film's sound, music, and its images, that is, how to understand the structure of a documentary via its music.
The essayist includes a brief prelude in which he discusses the sound conception of the Noticiero Icaic Latinoamericano, and to delve into the issue, chooses three filmmakers: Santiago Álvarez, Rogelio París and Rigoberto López, who, the presenter said, "modified the genre with ingredients of sound, staging, and fiction."
Loyola, composer and musicologist, analyzed five documentaries by Santiago Álvarez, among them, "three classics," Now, Hasta la victoria siempre, and El tigre saltó y mató…pero…morirá…morirá; by Rogelio París, Nosotros, la música, "a true master work;" and from Rigoberto López, Yo soy del son a la salsa, "a work of splendid maturity devoted to the history of our dance music, in Cuba and outside of Cuba."
The Ediciones Icaic catalogue was enriched with other titles such as El cineasta que llevo dentro. Más de 30 años de la revista Cine Cubano (1984-2015), by essayist and critic Frank Padrón.
The book is a short anthology of Padron's work as a collaborator with the magazine and allows readers to see the writer's versatility, and his understanding of film, making the reading almost a tour of Cuban cinema.
The religious issue, mentioned by Mercy Ruiz, is addressed Imagen de lo sagrado. La religiosidad en el cine cubano de la República (1906-1958), by Raydel Araoz, which touches an important topic, she said, offering a chronology and a detailed analysis of cardinal films, includingLa Virgen de la Caridad, directed by Ramón Peón in 1930.
Ediciones Icaic's 2018 presentations at the International Book Fair in Havana, began in the Casa del Festival with Memorias del subdesarrollo (in the publishers' screenplay collection) by Arturo Arango and Juan Antonio García Borrero, which, as was required, included the projection of the restored version of this classic of Cuban film directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.