Viva Cuba, inspiration for World Film Locations: Havana

Today’s post is dedicated to the continuity and growth of my Cuban cinema research, linking my current work to both my past and future projects.  Primarily, it will trace my relationship with a very special film, Viva Cuba, the film that first exposed me to the wonder of Cuban cinema.   By connecting my past interactions with the film to its current role in World Film Locations: Havana, I hope to illuminate how Cuban cultural investigation has influenced my growth as student researcher and global citizen.  In this sense, the post is a bit more personal than informational, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless…

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Writing about “7 Days in Havana” for the World Film Locations: Havana book

Hi all! With this blog post, we are even closer to finalizing the draft manuscript for World Film Locations: Havana.  Recent work has focused around the non-text portion of the book, specifically the Biographies and “Go Further” sections.  I have been compiling contributing authors’ bios, translating them to English (if originally in Spanish), and discovering new Cuban Film resources for “Go Further,” a short end-of-book chapter on ways to immerse oneself in Cuba’s cinematic culture from home.  Most significantly, I have created an additional scene description piece about the recent film “7 Days in Havana” [7 Días en La Habana].  The film offers a fascinating glimpse into contemporary Havana life, and features an incredibly unique cinematic structure.  It is divided into 7 chapters, each directed by a different international director.  The nationalities of the directors range from Cuban to American to Palestinian to French, producing a rich, diverse work of film.  I feel particularly connected to this film after having visited Havana last summer, where I met its principal screenwriter, Leonardo Padura. He mentioned the film in our conversation, and I have been waiting with baited breath to watch it ever since.  Thanks to my research adviser Ann Marie Stock, I was able to view the film and write about it for World Film Locations: Havana.  Below is a behind-the-scenes look at my scene description draft.  The timecode in the top left corresponds to the particular scene I am writing about, the scene from which I took still frames to accompany the piece (see last post on screen grabs).  I have included the stills below the text.  Enjoy!

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Compiling images for World Film Locations: Havana

Hello all!  Exciting news to report on World Film Locations: Havana– after spending three busy, busy days working in Williamsburg with my professor, editor, and co-author, the book has come together beautifully!  Together, we compiled the book’s scene description essays (those that have already been submitted by fellow co-authors and contributors), “spotlight” essays, and graphics.  By nature of being devoted to film and visual arts, the book strongly emphasizes its images.  For every film that it features (a whopping 47 movies!), the book contains accompanying imagery, in the form of multiple still frames (screen shots, if you will) from each film.  By providing the reader with these specially selected screen grabs, the book’s graphic design adds a visual richness to the film descriptions.   In addition to contributing three original film descriptions to the book, I am in charge of selecting, formatting, and compiling the screen grabs, a responsibility- and privilege- that I am greatly enjoying.  While in Williamsburg, I worked with Troy Davis of the Swem Media Center to learn the process of taking still frames from our films.  Two software downloads, multiple lessons, and a file of mistaken screen shots later, I was in business.  The following will detail my work with the screen grabs, or as I’m deeming it, “Emma’s foray into the world of book design.”

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Cuba, Memory, and the National Art Schools

After some time away from away from Cuba, I have returned.  In spirit, that is.  You see, in recent weeks I have poured myself into my work on the World Film Locations: Havana book.  Together with my research advisor- and editor, fellow author- I have been writing, compiling essays, and designing our literary tribute to Cuban cinema. In doing so, my mind has been transported back to the bright and bustling island.  One year ago, I visited Cuba for the first time, and since then it has left a searing, warm impression on my psyche.  Its sounds, its people, its throbbing pace of life- and, indeed, its arts- are never far from my mind.  It is thus fitting to devote this blog post to the theme of memory and reminiscence as they apply to film in Cuba.

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Cuban Film Research, An Introduction

“El cine es un arte.”

–       Ley No. 169, the second law of Cuba’s Revolutionary government, 1959

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