At a time when the future of filmmaking (and filmgoing) remains murky at best, it’s comforting to find the film community rallying around to help itself wherever it can. For Cuba’s Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV, San Antonio de los Baños (EICTV), the COVID pandemic meant that the graduation ceremony which would have celebrated its 2020 class had to be cancelled — this after a student had tested positive for COVID-19, causing the school to go into quarantine. It was a loss that, along with the death of Senobio Faget, the head of the Documentary Department, pushed the film school to reflect back on its own impact and legacy.
The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), in a show of solidarity and in celebration of the decades’ long work the Cuban film school has produced, has curated a retrospective of works that screened as part of the IDFA Competition for Student Documentary. As Documentary Chair Juliana Fanjul puts it, this “EICTV retrospective presents works that are free and poetic: a crazed train journey that doubles as a microcosm of the Cuban nation; a lonely man who sails through a vast dam and gradually disappears. There are images that shock, such as the succession of painful close ups on female bodies subjected to real torture in the name of Caribbean beauty, or the powerful portraits of older women who share flashes of their still-open emotional wounds.”
The selection of 12 films include I Am, about a young girl who caused a media circus with a message written on a large cardboard sign following the death of Fidel Castro; Iceberg, an intimate and lyrical portrait of Teresa, a frail fisherwoman in her sixties living on a small island with her granddaughter Maria; The Farewell, a photogenic look at the life of a Cuban former miner who decides to go his own way, in spite of his years; and Sweet Salty Wind, about three kids playing on the coast.
In addition to the retrospective, the school unveiled a number of project produced while in quarantine. Three of these films projects (Fire, [Space] and Soul Box) as well as a photography exhibit (Chronicles of the Nasobuco by Nicolás Ordóñez, Head of Communications at EICTV) are now fully available online.
Stream all the films in “EICTV x IDFA: Memories of the future, omens of the past” at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam website.