Accelerated Underdevelopment

In the Idiom of Santiago Alvarez

Travis Wilkerson. 2003. United States of America. vo English. 64’

v English


What is a filmmaker? It is this vague, perhaps vain question that Travis Wilkerson hoped to answer clearly when he went to Cuba to question Santiago Alvarez, a legend of militant cinema. Although he had seen none of his films, Wilkerson did an interview with the master that quickly became something of a combined lesson in film and history, with Alvarez presenting his many essays and adding commentary. On returning from his trip, Wilkerson was very disappointed. The camera had recorded nothing of these very warm-hearted, instructive sessions, neither sound nor pictures. Technology had let him down. Alvarez's face and voice vanished, almost at the same time as himself. So only his films remain. His portrait remains to be done, to be made from scratch, from memory. This is why this homage to Alvarez is presented, according to a certain poetic tradition, in the form of a mélange. It includes Wilkerson's autobiographical parts, archive footage, excerpts of films made for Cuban television and pictures taken today, assembled with no concern for hierarchy or precedence.

http://www.colorado.edu/FilmStudies/faculty/twilkerson.shtml