Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Poli Marichal: Interview
 My participation in the beginning...
 A cuarenta años de los peloter...
 Selective film bibliography on...
 Documentary film and literatur...
 Jesus Diaz: My film memoirs
 The artist amid culture clash
 From the margin to the center
 Can't we all be Marilyn?
 Reflections on film script in a...
 Guion inedito para television
 Cine y revolucion
 La crisis economica y el cine de...
 Hasta la reina Isabel baila el...
 Puerto Rico: Towards a national...
 Book reviews
 Notes on contributors
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Group Title: Sargasso (Río Piedras, San Juan, P.R.)
Title: Sargasso
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00096005/00007
 Material Information
Title: Sargasso
Uniform Title: Sargasso (Río Piedras, San Juan, P.R.)
Alternate Title: Sargazo
Abbreviated Title: Sargasso (Río Piedras San Juan P. R.)
Physical Description: v. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: University of Puerto Rico (Ri´o Piedras Campus) -- Dept. of English
University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras Campus) -- Dept. of English
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Ri´o Piedras P.R
Río Piedras P.R
Publication Date: 1984-
Copyright Date: 1986
Frequency: twice a year[2002-]
two no. a year[ former 1984]
irregular[ former <1987>-2001]
Subject: Caribbean literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Caribbean literature -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Puerto Rican literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Puerto Rican literature -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: review   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Puerto Rico
Additional Physical Form: Also issued online.
Language: Chiefly English, with some French and Spanish.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, no. 1-no. 10 (2000) ; 2001-
Numbering Peculiarities: Volume designation dropped with no. 3; issue for 2001 lacks numbering; issues for 2002- called 2002, 1-
Issuing Body: Edited by the faculty and graduate students of the English Dept., University of Puerto Rico.
General Note: Title from cover.
General Note: Some issues have also distinctive titles.
General Note: Latest issue consulted: 2004-05,2.
General Note: Has occasional special issues.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00096005
Volume ID: VID00007
Source Institution: University of Puerto Rico
Holding Location: University of Puerto Rico
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 12797847
lccn - 85643628
issn - 1060-5533
alephbibnum - 002422411

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Table of Contents
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Poli Marichal: Interview
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
    My participation in the beginning of the division of community education
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    A cuarenta años de los peloteros
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
    Selective film bibliography on the non-Hispanic Caribbean
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
    Documentary film and literature
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Jesus Diaz: My film memoirs
        Page 29
        Page 30
    The artist amid culture clash
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    From the margin to the center
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
    Can't we all be Marilyn?
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
    Reflections on film script in a country without a film industry
        Page 54
        Page 55
    Guion inedito para television
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
    Cine y revolucion
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
    La crisis economica y el cine de Cuba
        Page 63
        Page 64
    Hasta la reina Isabel baila el danzon
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
    Puerto Rico: Towards a national cinema
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
    Book reviews
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
    Notes on contributors
        Page 100
        Page 101
    Back Matter
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
    Back Cover
        Page 105
        Page 106
Full Text




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SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film
is dedicated to the memory of
our friend and co-worker

Tom Sullivan

A un amigo que se va

Tom was his first name
Sullivan his last.
He was a man that one could talk to
in earnest or in jest. A
The kind, conciliatory words % 4
were always coming forth; no bitterness in him. .- \
He always had a smile, seldom upset.
A Kansas gringo who had earned respect.
Liked by everyone he met.
It's funny how some people belong to any place,
and Tom belonged.
Sometimes he'd lean and whisper
some irreverent remark and then would laugh.
"No me jodas, viejo" was his trademark.
He had made plans, like we all do,
but could not realize them.
I thought of words I'd say to him
when he got well--"You gave us all a scare viejo,"
but he was gone "in the twinkling of an eye."
As I drive now and see the sunset,
I must stop and let the tears and this simple
homage flow,
In memory of the friend we lost.

March 13, 1992

Luis Pomales
University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Thomas Sullivan
He has passed from view.

Tom drank life to the lees, always reaching out to people and to new
experiences wherever he was in the world: Kansas, Colorado, Mexico, Libya,
Puerto Rico. He continually sought new frontiers in the frontier spirit, not
content to sit with folded hands even after two major heart attacks.

His students loved him both in and out of the classroom, repeatedly giving him
ovations on their evaluations of his teaching, taking him and Joyce on
excursions around the island, and inviting them to "fiestas."

Sargasso 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

He was a popular colleague, the life of any party, and he willingly served the
Department and the University on numerous committees, as Director of the
Graduate Program in English, and as President of the College English
Association, Caribbean Chapter.

He remained intellectually alive publishing his book, Cowboys and
Caudillos: Ideologies of American Frontiers (1990), co-editing the
magazine Sargasso, and giving papers and leading panels for the Popular
Culture Association.

He died as I think he would have wished: quickly with his boots on, giving of
himself. May he remain in our memories as an example of the ability to accept
with joy both life's thunder and sunshine, to be always outward and forward
looking, and though "made weak by time and fate,...strong in will. To strive, to
seek, to find, and not to yield."

Memorial Service, May 1991
University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras Campus
Barbara Bergquist with help
from Tennyson's "Ulysses"

Sargasso 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


It has been two years since Sargasso 7 was published. In that time, we
struggled to gather the materials for this issue by persuading many people
either to write about Caribbean cinema or to allow us to use materials already
published in another language or in publications with limited circulations
outside of the Caribbean. The task has not been easy an easy one, nor has it
yielded all the results we were expecting. We wanted to include articles that
would be representative of the entire Caribbean, which has been the policy of
Sargasso from its very beginning, but we could wait no more for promised
critical essays on topics such as the politics of the 1973 film The Harder
They Come. or the impact of documentaries on Reggae stars like Bob Marley
on national and international audiences, or the cinema of survival in the
Dominican Republic in recent years. In spite of these limitations (and we do
hope to include these essays in future issues), Sargasso 8 includes a variety
of subjects such as filmmaking (Jesfs Diaz), film and literature (Diane
Accaria), documentary film and literature (Jesus Dlaz), Puerto Rican
filmmaking in the United States (Lillian Jim6nez), and film and the Cuban
Revolution (Rebeca ChAvez). In a more practical vein, it also includes
experiences in a film scriptwriting workshop (Jos6 Umpierre), a proposal for a
short film (Yolanda Margarita P6rez), and the script of a completed
documentary (Luis Felipe Bernaza).
For this issue, we interviewed a Puerto Rican filmmaker, Poli Marichal,
who has excelled in animation and experimental films. Carmen Gloria Romero,
librarian of the Caribbean Regional Library (Biblioteca del Caribe) at the
Universidad de Puerto Rico, has provided us with a bibliography on non-
Hispanic Caribbean cinema. Three Puerto Rican filmmakers, Jack Delano,
Carlos Malav6 and Kino Garcia, have written about aspects of Puerto Rican
national cinema. Also included is a critical essay by Steven Carter on a non-
cinematic but Caribbean topic: writers Edgar Mittelholzer and Earl Lovelace.
Reviews of twelve recent books on Caribbean subjects also appear in the
issue. These include recent anthologies of poetry, fiction, publications on film,
and critical works on Derek Walcott, black women's literature, and Puerto
Rican drama in New York. Following our commitment to make Sargasso a
true Caribbean magazine that will encompass the entire region with its
different language manifestations, critical essays and reviews appear in
English or in Spanish. We once again announce that we welcome materials
about the Caribbean in English, Spanish and French.
This issue is dedicated to a friend of the Caribbean who passed away and
left a void in our lives. Tom Sullivan, a colleague who was a founding member
of this magazine, admired by the hundreds of students who he guided through
the years, left us his friendship and love for this island.
Saras= 9 will be dedicated to the memory of Gordon K. Lewis, the
reknown scholar and for many years resident of Puerto Rico, who left an
invaluable legacy for our region.
Special thanks to Ms. Beatriz Ramirez for helping to make this issue
possible. Beatriz worked long hours without pay and her efforts as the newest
member of the Sargasso staff are truly appreciated.

Maria Cristina Rodriguez
Editor, Sargasso 8

Sargasso 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Table of Centents
Dedication to Tom Sullivan ........................... .. ..... ..... i

The Difficulties of Publishing an Issue on Caribbean Cinema: Editorial ... iii
Maria Cristina Rodriguez

Poli Marichal: Drawings ....................................... vi; 5:99
Poli M arichal: Interview .................. ......................... 1I

Jack Delano: "My Participation in the Beginning of the Division of
Community Education" ......... ... ................. 6

Carlos Malave. "A cuarenta ados de Los lteros". ................... 9

Carmen Gloria Romero. "Selective Bibliography of non-Spanish Caribbean
Cinema" .................................................... 24
Jesus Diaz, "Documentary Film and Literature" ........................ 27

Jesus Diaz, "My Film Memoirs" ..................................... 29

Steven Carter, "The Artist Amid Cultural Clash: Edgar Mittelholzer's
A Mormima at the Office and Earl Lovelace's IThe Daaon
Can 't Dan ce" .. ..... ............ .... ..... .... .......... 31

Lillian Jimenez, "From the Margin to the Center: Puerto Rican Cinema
in New York" ............. . ................... 40

Dianne Accaria, "Can't We All be Marilyn?: Film and Falsity of the
Sex Goddess in Mache Ca5mche's Beat" ...................... 4

Jose M. Umpierre, "Reflections on the Film Script in a Country without
aFilm Indistry" .............................................. 54

Yolanda Margarita P6rez, "Gui6n in6dito para television" ............... 56

Rebeca Chivez, "Cine y revoluci6n" .. ................................ 60

La crisis economic y el cine en Cuba/
The Economic Crisis and Cuban Cinema ............................... 63

Luis Felipe Bernaza. "Hasta la Reina Isabel bails el danz6n" ............. 65

Kino Garcia. "Puerto Rico: Towards a National Cinema" ................. 70

Sargam a (1992) Caribbe a Film

Table of Catoents (continued)
Beek Reviev/Reseas
Gerald Guinness: The Art of Derek Walcott edited by Stevart Brovn ...... 75

Carlos Velez Rickehoff: Fals cr6nicas del Sur by Ana Lydia Vega ....... 78

Robert Buckeye: "Versionings" Caribbean Poetry Nov edited by
Stewart Brovn and The Caribbean Wrtier. VI .................... 79

Luis Pomales: Green Cane and juicy Flotsam: Short Stories by
Caribbean Vomen edited by Carmen C Esteves and Lisabeth
Paravisini-Gebert ............................ ............... 81
Susan Ryan: E-Isles: E-My on Caribhean Cinema edited by Mbye Chsa 82

Marlsa CristinaRodriguez: Cine v muier on Amirica Latin Directoras
d lar -w atraes de ficcian .................................. 85

MayraSantos: La oiti, noch amr na* cantle by MayraMontere ...... 87

Nalini Natarajwa: Mnorin and Ma hors by Earls Holovwy ........... 89
Consuelo L6pez Springfield: Memorin de un cort m n n L era de Truiillo
by Joaquin Bsiauer ...................................... 90
Maria Soleded Rodriquez: kItSo HU by Timothy Caliender and
A &oy Namod Owl: bA k a, idhod by Earl McKeonzie...... 94
Lovell Fiet Recent Puerto Rican Theater: Five Plsys from New York
edited by John Antus........................................ 96
Notes on Contributors .............................................. 100
Table of Contents SARSASSO 7 (199 ): Caribbesa Theater ......... 102
Journal Exchange .............................................. 103


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SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Poli Marichal:


Poll Marichal is one of the
outstanding women
filmmakers in Puerto Rico.
She has received numerous
awards for her experimental
films and her animation.
Although she began working
in the Super 8mm format, she
now prefers multimedia. She
lives in California alternates
that with at least four long
stays a year in Puerto Rico, a
way of always feeling her
roots. This interview by
Maria Cristina Rodriguez took
place during one of these

Maria Cristina: Tell us a
few things about your artistic

Poll Marichal: I come
from an artistic background in the
sense that my mother was an
actress for many years and my
father was a set designer and
illustrator, so when I was little I
grew up backstage practically, and
I even learned plays by heart,
listening to my mom rehearsing
and later on in life I decided I
wanted to study art so I went to the
Escuela de Artes Plisticas del
Institute de Cultura where I studied
for a year. Then, I received a
scholarship to study in Spain so I
went to Barcelona to la Escuela
Massana which is a fine arts school
that is very prestigious so I studied
there for two years and came back
to Puerto Rico where I finished my
B.A. in art at the Escuela de Artes

Plgsticas. Then, I worked for a
while with animator Jos6 Luis Diaz
de Villegas at his studio. And, I got
really interested in what could be
done with drawing and movement
and using film to give movement to
drawing which really interested
me because I felt it was like a
marriage between the visual arts
and this new art of this century
which is film. And, then I went to
Boston to study filmmaking because
I really got interested in film but I
went to a school that was
specialized, I guess, or at least they
gave the students the freedom to do
a lot of experimental filmmaking
which was what really interested
me, because I thought you could do
with film more things than just a
narrative film and you could do
even like a sort of extension of
painting or drawing in film so I
decided to experiment. I did several
little films and there I got really
interested in Super 8mm because it
allows you to do inexpensive films
and at the same time learn a lot
about the technique of filmmaking
without having a big budget like
the big studios.L Then I came back to
Puerto Rico where I worked for Diaz
de Villegas again at his studio and
then I went to work for a visual
communications company where I
designed audio-visual productions
for about 3 years.
At the same time I was doing
experimental film and working
with a group, Taller de Cine La Red,
which was a group of Super 8
filmmakers that were really
interested in not just making film
but in bringing films from other
countries to Puerto Rico to have like
a cultural exchange because we
found that there was a necessity in
this country of making people
aware that film wasn't just
something the big studios could do
but ifs something that with a little
camera you can express yourself
and say something about your
reality. While we were working

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Poll Marichal: Interview

with La Red, I had the opportunity
to work with Kino Garcia, Eduardo
CAnovas, Carlos Malavd, Maria
Cristina, Oscar Col6n, Marion
Barreto, Waldo Sanchez and several
other members. The Taller did
several yearly encounters and it
brought films from all over the
world and it was, for me at least, a
very enriching experience and I
did several little films that travelled
outside of Puerto Rico and were also
shown here, there and everywhere
and for me it was a wonderful
experience to see that films that
were done with so little money
could travel so much and bring like
a link between other filmmakers in
other parts of the world who were
also interested in doing very
personal films. Those films were
shown in Brussels, Spain, Portugal,
Brazil, Venezuela, United States,
Canada; I think, Lybia and Tunisia
and some other places.

MC: Do you have your own
style in films?

PM: I started doing a certain
kind of experimental film where
you painted on the emulsion and I
mixed film footage, like live footage
of people, etc.; I painted over it and
scratched the film and it gave me a
lot of freedom which is something I
really treasured because in regular
filmmaking there are so many rules
as to what should be done, what
shouldn't be done, what lighting is
and so on. I wanted to break the
rules and do whatever I wanted to
do and see what came out.
Especially in experimental film you
can really work with reality in a
very poetic and symbolic way
which is, I guess what my tendency
is more like.

MC: Could you
comment on the work of women in
film here in Puerto Rico?

PM: I guess women in the
arts, specially since most Puerto
Rican women filmmakers right now
like Frida Medin, who is first a
photographer, then Marimater
O'Neill who is a printer first, and
Teresa Pr6vidi, who leans more
toward journalistic literary sources,
came from other disciplines that
were very art-oriented and they
found in film an extension of that,
of what they were doing in their
own fields. For example, Marimater
does portraits of reality, but in a
very symbolic way. She makes
actual facts but she sort of
transforms them into something
else. Friday Medin is very internal--
she's looking towards her insides,
it's non-oneiric; it's an extension of
where her photographic interests
are. I guess for women in Puerto
Rico filmmaking is not a way of
making a career in the traditional
film, like narrative filmmaking, but
a way of expressing themselves
artistically. It is something that has
happened that is very curious. Men
here are usually more narrative-
oriented or documentary-oriented
and they don't tend to look so much
at their psyches. I guess it's a
manly quality. Men don't want to
see so much inside as women do. It's
not a rule but I guess generally
that's the way it is, men are more
disconnected with their internal
torments and fears. They are not so
aware of what's going on: their
emotions, feelings and self
examination. Women are more
oriented towards-- especially if
they are in the arts--if they have
an interest in expressing
something, they first look inside
and then they throw it back at the
world. Generally, that's the way it
happens. Agnes Varda, the French
director, has very interesting films.
She shows what's going on inside
the characters, more than to die

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Poll Marichal: Interview

shooting at each other or pushing
drugs or that kind of film or the
buddy films which are another

narrative film?

And your own

PM: "Nos
Despedimos de MandrAgora
Luna" is a sort of symbolic
narrative. The film starts with a
group of friends, Maria Dolores
Rodriguez and Roxana Riera; we
used to get together and had a
brainstorming of what we wanted to
do, so we started developing this
story and the story became more
and more complicated and each one
had phantoms that we wanted to
take out of our psyche. It was like a
year before we did anything. I took
part of the ideas of everybody and
did a story board and we discussed it.
The project took like a year and
then it became simpler. It was the
first time I did something like that.
We did the story as I drew it.
It more or less expressed what we
tried to say after so many months.
So finally we did the film. It was a
great experience to shoot on
Sunday. We shot the whole film in
Old San Juan. Waldo SAnchez did the
lighting with Enrique Puig, and I
did the camera, directed the actors
and did the make up. It was lots of
fun. Every beginner's film has lots
of mistakes and it could have been
done in a more complete way. I'll do
another one some day and learn
more from it.


MC: You also
a Multimedia project.

PM: In 1989 I
received a proposal from a group of
friends in Boston who have an
organization called the
International Center for 8mm Film
and Video who are also sponsors

(with the National Endowment) for
the Taller de Cine La Red. They
asked me if I wanted to submit a
proposal. I asked them if I could do
anything I wanted and they said
"sure". I had been dying to do like a
multi-media, a portrait of Puerto
Rico. I wrote a proposal and did
several drawings of how the
installation was going to be and it
got approved. They gave me
$18,000. I began filming and
shooting slides at the same time. I
wanted to combine what I had
learned in Boston doing audio-
visual design and do a multi-media
where slides and film are integrated
and synchronized together to do a
huge wide screen, similar to
something like panavision and
projected on a painting of the
island of Puerto Rico. It was like
several media mixed together. It
took a year and it was a lot of work.
I realized I was trying to do a
$90,000 project with $18,000. I
started putting in money from my
pocket. It was shown in Boston,
Lawrence and Springfield,
Massachusetts. It was like a
travelling show and went from
place to place and we showed it at
several galleries and museums. My
husband told me that people would
put tar and feathers on me and drag
me out of town but to my surprise
the reaction of most of the Puerto
Ricans in the audience was very
supportive even though for them it
was not the most optimistic of
visions. It was a very personal
vision and it reflected what I had
seen in the island. So ifts a portrait
that not everyone is going to like.
But I wanted to say something, to
show something else, not the
beautiful things. I did something
that is political and very critical of
the situation right now in a crazy,
elliptical way. I haven't been able
to bring it to Puerto Rico because
it's costly just to bring the
equipment and the insurance for

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Poll Marichal: Interview

all the lenses. We have to use some
lenses for the audio-visual
projectors and just bringing the
screen, which is 20 feet long is very
costly. rI bring it some day when I
get a sponsor. I'm working in Los
Angeles where I live now. I've
been going back to my roots in the
graphic arts and I've been doing a
lot of print-making but I've also
done some animation commercially
for the studios, for Columbia

experience living
Los Angeles been

What has your
and working in

PM: I sort of had to
start again because when I moved to
L.A. I felt like uprooted. Suddenly,
I was like an unknown in a huge
place, so I'm still getting the idea of
where I have to work and what my
reality is. I've been writing
proposals to get money to do
another multi-media installation
which is with video money. I did a
proposal for an animated film and
for the Independent TV service and
I got to be a finalist but I guess it
was too costly for them. I'm
working on several ideas for
animated film--three films one
minute each. (Editor's note: this
project was approved last

in Puerto

MC: Is making films
Rico terribly difficult?

PM: My experience
doing film in Puerto Rico has been
that there is not much support on
the island; especially for
experimental filmmakers, there is
no support at alL You can get $2,000
here, $ 5,000 there but that's not
enough if you want to really
develop work. For the commercial
film it is even harder. Just to get
work competing against all the

studios nowadays in Venezuela,
Brazil and others who are taking a
lot of the commercial work out of
the island. So I guess film working
in Puerto Rico is uphill even if you
are doing commercial things.
If you're doing Super 8 you
have the freedom that you can do
whatever you want; if you have
$200 or $300 or $500, you can do
your own little piece of work. If
you want to do a feature you are in
big trouble because it's really hard
to get money. There are a few
people like Jacobo Morales who
have done it but it has been uphill
even for them. If you have an
investment of one million dollars
you have to make at least 3 million
dollars for it to be profitable. It's an
endless struggle even for the
people who are doing it with
money. So I don't know what the
future is. It would depend a lot on
the government. And the
government spends so much money
on bureaucracy so by the time it
gets to the filmmakers there is very
little left over. The government
should realize that film travels a lot,
is seen in many places, and it would
be a wonderful way of telling
people in the world that there is a
little island called Puerto Rico.
People don't realize that the arts are
the best way of getting your
country to be known in the world.
A few years ago I was in
Canada in the National Film Board.
They have these huge buildings,
that the government sponsors.
They have the lab to process the
film, they have the cameras, the
studio for the filmmakers. The
animators have a lot of support.
And it doesn't matter if your film
doesn't make money. Public TV in
Canada shows everything that is
produced by the National Film Board
and they have agencies all over the
world that distribute those films, so
the films in the end always make
money. If the government in

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Poll Marichal: Interview

Puerto Rico would realize that if
money is distributed in an
intelligent way and filmmakers
were required to really produce
film and if they're trained to do
quality work, they could have a
moneymaking industry here. But
they never really wanted to put the
effort and the money that that
requires. It makes filmmakers
really frustrated. They go abroad,
they study, they have all these ideas
accumulating dust for years and
they have no way to get that film
produced because its so hard. I
think that should be a priority in
this country. Not only in
filmmaking, it concerns the arts in

MC: How do you see
the insertion of Puerto Rican films
in the rest of the Caribbean region?

PM: I know very little
of what's being done in the
Caribbean. I guess the main reason
is because distribution in Puerto
Rico is so lousy. You know the
Americans control everything, so
we hardly see foreign films and
needless to say, even though Puerto
Rico is in the Caribbean it has been
separated from the rest of the
Caribbean because of political and
national boundaries. You know the
U.S. doesn't even try to create
contact between the islands. The
government in Puerto Rico has
always been looking towards
Washington. It's been a symbiotic
relationship with the Americans.
It's like we were living in the
Pacific Ocean. We have almost no
contact with Jamaica and we are so
similar even though they speak
English. Even with the Dominican
Republic, which is a closer
neighbor and there is a group of
filmmakers, our contacts have
been nil. I've been to their
festival-- Festival of Women

Directors--and they are really
wonderful people. They are trying
to produce something but they have
no money. We have to make a list
of the resources in the islands, get
through seminars and start doing
projects together. We have to know
what they have before doing a
collective anything. We should
start with perhaps some conference
or seminar, one from each island,
and go to all the islands. together.
Getting people in contact with each
other and allowing them the
facilities and a little bit of money.
Perhaps donating time of the
facilities, access to good equipment,
and many other things that will
bring us together.

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film




the Beginning


the Division




Jack Delano
Independent artist
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico

I first set foot in Puerto Rico
in December of 1941 as a
photographer for the Farm Security
Administration. Accompanied by
my wife, Irene, I spent an intensive
three months travelling all over
the island photographing social
conditions in the rural areas and
small towns. In March of 1942 we
were called back to the States but
the island had made such a
profound impression on us, that we
were determined to return if the
opportunity ever presented itself.
The opportunity came in 1946
in the form of a Guggenheim
Fellowship in photography. Back
in Puerto Rico I continued my
photographic work and Irene, a
skilled graphic artist, was employed
as a publications designer for the
government. Edwin Rosskam, a
photographer and editor who had
become our friend at the Farm
Security Administration in
Washington was also working for
the government and through him

we met Elmer Elsworth, a successful
farmer from the town of Cidra and
an important figure in the Popular
Democratic Party. Elmer introduced
us to Luis Mufloz Marin, head of the
Popular Party and president of the
Mufoz had long been
concerned about the need to
establish an agency that would
provide basic adult education to a
predominantly rural population
that was largely illiterate. It was
obvious that such a program would
have to rely heavily on audio-visual
techniques such as films and
posters. Rosskam's experience as a
photographer and filmmaker and
Irene's training as a graphic artist
proved to be essential. To start the
program as quickly as possible,
since legislation to create a new
agency would be lengthy, the three
of us were put in charge with
setting up a production unit to
produce and distribute films,
posters, booklets, and other visual
materials. We set up shop in the
basement of the Commission of
Parks and Public Recreation which
already had a fleet of jeeps
equipped with portable generations,
projectors and screens which were
used to show sports films in baseball
parks throughout the island. We
were now known as the Cinema and
Graphic Section of the Commision of
Parks and Public Recreation.
The entire staff consisted of
Rosskam, in charge of all
production and editorial work,
Irene in charge of Graphics, and
myself in charge of film
production. At the time it was very
difficult to find trained technicians
in audiovisual methods. In films
there was only Juan Viguie, Sr. and
his sons. We hired young people
with no experience, but lots of
enthusiasm who would learn by
doing. At first Rosskam wrote all
the film scripts and booklets, which

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Jack Delano: My Participation

were translated by our first Puerto
Rican writer, Angel Rigau. In
graphics, Irene was able to find
only one professional illustrator
and hired a group of boys from a
nearby town to learn silk screen
techniques and operate the shop.
In the film department, I hired a
young student from the University
drama department, Amilcar Tirado,
who was passionate about learning
filmmaking, and an ex-truck driver
who was equally intense about
learning to be a cameraman. To
run our sound department, I found
a radio technician at one of the
radio stations who wanted very
much to join us. At this early stage
I found myself, out of dire
necessity, performing as producer,
director, teacher, composer and
cameraman, assisted by a group of
enthusiastic, hard working but, as
yet, untrained assistants.
In the cramped quarters of
our basement, we built a small
sound studio (for narration
recording), an editing room and a
tiny laboratory. Sound was
recorded on 16 inch acetate discs
(this was before magnetic
recording was available). The only
camera we had (while additional
equipment was on order) was my
personal Kodak 16mm camera
which we used for teaching and
training purposes. The Pan-
American Circus was often in town
and I arranged for Amilcar and
Jes6s Figueroa (our future
cameraman) to film short circus
acts for acts of practice. They had
to develop and edit the film
themselves (we had acquired an old
army surplus 16mm developing
machine that could be used for
either negative or reversal film).
For theoretical study, everyone
made use of my personal library
that included books ranging from
the Kodak: How to Make Home

Movies to the writings of Pudovkin
and Eisenstein and several histories
of world cinema. We also rented
16mm films of the great film
classics to show to the entire staff.
During 1947 and 1948, as our
department grew and as skills
improved, we acquired more
sophisticated equipment and
produced several films: CaMa, La
voz del pueblo. Jesus T.
Pifiro, Una gota de agua and
others. In the meantime work was
progressing on a bill in the
legislature (including frequent
consultation with us) to create a
new, independent and much
expanded organization of which our
section would be the nucleus.
During these two years, word about
our project was spreading and
writers and artists were beginning
to apply for employment. The
painter Julio Rosado del Valle joined
the staff of graphic artists, the
writer Jos6 Luis Gonzalez began
writing materials for our booklets
and people with film experience
from the States joined the film
With the imminent approval
of the law creating the Division of
Community Education we began
looking forward to our transfer to
the new agency which meant
moving to much larger and
permanent headquarters. After
much searching we acquired an old
colonial building that had been the
San Juan market in the 19th
century. It was now the property of
the municipal government and an
agreement with the mayor of San
Juan, Felisa Rinc6n de Gautier, made
it available to us for a dollar a year.
Working with the
architectural firm of Henry Klumb
and Associates we transformed the
building into the administrative
and production facilities of the
Division of Community Education.
The interior patio became a sound

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Jack Delano: My Participation

stage (floating floor and all) and
there were editing rooms,
projection rooms, a sound
department, a laboratory with three
developing machines, chemical
mixing rooms, printing rooms,
emergency generators and even
two 10,000 gallon reserve water
tanks for emergencies (water
shortages were not uncommon in
those days). There were offices for
writers and a huge space for the
silk screen shop and the high speed
offset process.
In 1949 the new law took
effect and all the personnel and
equipment of the Cinema and
Graphics Section was transferred to
the new headquarters. By now we
had attracted many talented young
people, both locally and those who
were studying abroad. Composers
H6ctor Campos Parsi and Amaury
Veray returned from France and
Italy to work on musical scores for
the films. Rafael Tuffio, the
painter, who was in Mexico and
Lorenzo Homar and F6lix Bonilla
from New York came back to join
the graphics department. Our film
crew now included Gabriel Tirado, a
professional cameraman from the
States and Benji Doniger whom I
arranged to bring down from New
York. Rene Marques and other
Puerto Rican writers were part of
Rosskam's staff. Fred G. Wale, who
had vast experience in developing
community action groups in the
States, was hired by the
government to run the entire
agency, including the selection and
training of group leaders.
During the next several years,
as head of the film department, I
produced the films Dfsde La
nubes. Las manos del hombre.
and Loas ploteros. Amilcar Tirado
directed his first film, Una yoz en
la montana with a script by Rene
Marques and a musical score which I

adapted from Puerto Rican
children's songs.
By 1952 Irene and I felt that
we had accomplished what we had
set out to do, which was to select and
train a competent group of people
to carry out the work of the
Division in a well equipped and
organized environment. We felt
that our departments were in good
Puerto Rican hands and that our
services were no longer required.
Besides, we were anxious to go on to
other things and therefore
presented our resignations.

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

A cuarenta afios


Los Peloteros

Carlos H. Malav6
Escuela de Comunicaci6n
Universidad de Puerto Rico


La historic de unos nifos
pobres que a traves de su propio
esfuerzo logran entrar en la liga
organizada de beisbol, reafirmando
asi lo que valen y su identidad como
habitantes de un barrio popular del
Puerto Rico anterior a los aios del
1940, todavia cautiva a los j6venes y
adults que la ven hoy, cuarenta
alos despu6s de haber sido filmada.
Los paloteroz (1951), es un
largometraje producido pot la
Divisi6n de Educaci6n de la
Comunidad (DIVEDCO) que fue
realizado en el Barrio Cielito de
Comerlo y en el studio de cine do
Jack Delano, el director do
esta pelicula, fue fundador de la
Unidad de Cinema de DIVEDCO done
tambien dirigi6 las pellculas Didea
las nnbes (1950), Las anne del
homhre (1951), La guaitarr
(1951) y fhale Caafi (1956).

El Popullsmo y la Dlvisl6n de
Educacl6n de la Comunidad

El anilisis de la pellcula Los
Miteros es mis complete si
vinculamos esta pelicula a los
process sociales e hist6ricos
ocurridos en Puerto Rico y que
tuvieron como resultado el
surgimiento del Partido Popular
Democritico (P.P.D.) y su triunfo en
el 1940. Es significativo sefialar que
en esos mismos afos se desarrolla Ia
historic de los nifos.
En Puerto Rico, el P.P.D. fue
representative de la tendencia
democritica dentro del populismo
latinoamericano. Angel G. Quintero
Rivera identifica al P.P.D. como
"...una respuesta organizativa
political de una clase en ciernes ante
unos process sociales que venlan
generandose o encadenindose desde
principios de siglo."(Quintero
Rivera, 1980, p.91)
En el populismo ocurre una
coalici6n de classes con el prop6sito
de combatir a los "enemigos del
pueblo" (lanni, 1980, p. 55)
Asl, se dividia la sociedad en
dos grupos antag6nicos: uno que
representaba el "status quo" y otro
mis amplio, "el pueblo", que
buscaba un cambio do situaci6n bajo
la direcci6n de una case que
componla la coalici6n o alianza.
La political populista defendla
la armonia de las classes sociales y la
necesidad de fortalecer la
cooperaci6n entire el capital y el
trabajo manteni6ndose el caracter
capitalist de las relaciones de
dominaci6n polltica (Ibid., p. 55).
Cuando surgi6 el P.P.D. las
condiciones de vida de los
puertorriquefios eran p6simas y
predominaban las enfermedades, la
mortandad infantil y la
desnutrici6n. La mayorfa de los
puertorriqueflos padecian
limitaciones econ6micas. El
descontento era general Las
organizaciones pollticas
tradicionales se encontraban en
crisis y las classes sociales

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malav6: Lo Relotgeros

vinculadas a los partidos politicos
tradicionales se encontraban en
process de cambio. Los sectors
sociales descontentos y distanciados
de los partidos tradicionales
respaldaron la alternative populist
llevando al P.P.D. al triunfo
electoral en el 1940.
Sin embargo, Emilio Gonzalez
Diaz (1977, p.92) sefiala que a partir
del 1946 se puede identificar un
cambio en la ideologia del P.P.D.
que demuestra el fracaso del
populismo de Puerto Rico. Esto se
debi6 basicamente a la imposibilidad
del surgimiento del Estado Populista
en una colonia porque en esta, la
metr6polis es quien controls en
forma directs la economic,
impidiendo con esto el surgimiento
del nacionalismo econ6mico que
distingula el populismo. Cuando en
1946 el P.P.D. asumi6 su estrategia
de crecimiento econ6mico a trav6s
de los incentives para el capital
norteamericano, el liderato del
P.P.D. pareci6 aceptar el hecho de
que la Gnica manera de mantenerse
en el poder dentro de una sociedad
colonial era asociAndose
subordinadamente al capital
El surgimiento de la DIVEDCO
coincidi6 con ese moment de
cambio ideol6gico en el P.P.D.
cuando el 6nfasis se puso en la
industrializaci6a y so coloc6 en
segundo lugar a la reforms agraria.
A pesar de eto, sla Divisi6n
concentr6 su actividad en el
campesinado que rue un sector
decisive en las victorias electorales
del P.P.D. durante los 28 afos
consecutivos en que fre el partido
principal de Puerto Rico. Asi la
Division sirvi6 para que el P.P.D.
lograra mantener un apoyo
significative del electorado rural
durante esos alos porque en la
filosofla y actividades de esta
agencia gubernamental estuvieron

presents elements importantes
del discurso ideol6gico populist. En
la pellcula Los peloteros podemos
identificar enunciaciones donde los
personajes o el narrador
expresaron sus ideas populistas afn
cuando ya el populismo como
movimiento habla terminado en
Puerto Rico. El pueblo fue
representado en esta pelilcula por
los nifios y vecinos del Barrio Cielito
de Comerlo. Eran pobres y se
sentian marginados pero deseosos
de actuar en forms colectiva
autoayudandose pars resolver los
obstaculos que les impedlan
beneficiarse del progress. El jugar
en un equipo de beisbol organizado
era su suefto inmediato y con la
ayuda de todos lo iban a lograr. El
obsticulo mayor que confrontaron
residi6 en ellos mismos cuando no
supieron elegir un buen lider

AnAlisls seml6tico de la
pelicula Los neloteros

El process de ver e
interpreter una pelicula se da en
form inversa al process de
general y producer una imagen
cinematogrifica. Al moment de
ver un film, el espectador percibe
primero los diferentes pianos.
RApidamente, los asocia para llegar
a generalizaciones que le permitan
adquirir unas ideas de caricter
general. En cambio, el process de la
elaboraci6n de una idea
cinematogrifica surge de lo general
pars luego irse definiendo en sus
elements particulares hasta Ilegar
al nivel del piano a filmarse.
Coincide con Yuri Lotman
(1979, p. 131) cuando senala que
todo lo perteneciente al arte
cinematogrifico tiene
significaci6n, y con Pier Paolo
Pasolini (1976, pp. 542-558) cuando

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malavd: Los mloteros

indica que el sentido y la estructura
de una pelicula so revela mejor
mediante el anilisis de la puesta en
escena. Por eso, al estudiar la
pelicula Los .eloteros, se
identificaron los elements
significantes de su puesta en escena
cinematogrifica. El uso del
lenguaje cinematogrifico provey6
las pistas para distinguir lo
significativo a nivel del piano. Para
esto, se prest6 atenci6n tanto a los
elements presents del lenguaje
filmico como a los que estaban
ausentes. Ademis, se estuvo
pendiente de aquellos cambios de
6nfasis. estilisticos para
identificarlos e interpreter su
significaci6n dentro del film y se
estuvo atento a los moments
semanticamente dominantes del
film para valorar la relaci6n
functional de los diferentes aspects
estructurales con la totalidad
artistic del texto y con la image
del mundo creada por el autor.
Al estudiar la pelicula Los
peloteros. no s61lo so determinaron
los elements significant al nivel
del piano sino tambi6n del montaje
y se procedi6 a determinar las
secuencias de frases
cinematogrificas que formaban el
argument del film. Entonces, so
analiz6 la funci6n nararrativa de
los personajes estableciendo la
relaci6n entire ellos y sus posibles
significaciones semanticas.
Especialmente, utilizando la puesta
en escena de los moments de mayor
significacion dramAtica. Por
ufltimo, se establec6 Ia relaci6n de
los elements significativos con la
totalidad del film. Esto Uev6 a
definir las connotaciones
superiors de la pelicula.


En esta pelicula, Momo adulto,
relate una an6cdota de su infancia a

un grupo de vecinos de su barrio.
Recuerda la 6poca en que 61 y sus
amiguitos aftoraban jugar en la liga
organizada de beisbol, pero no
podlan por falta de dinero para
comprarse el uniform. En aquella
ocasi6n, Amilcar, uno de los niftos,
propone organizer entire ellos
varias actividades para conseguir
dinero. Entusiasmados los nifios
imaginan todo lo que pueden hacer:
recoger botellas, vender dulces,
limpiar zapatos y hasta organizer
un circo donde so cobre la entrada.
N6stor, el unico de los niaos
proveniente de una familiar de clase
media se opone a la idea porque la
consider una locura, pero luego
cambia de opinion cuando va a
consultar a don Pepe, pelotero
retirado y desempleado que servia
de entrenador on el equipo de pelota
de los niaos. Lolita, la joven esposs
do don Pepe so bace cargo de
organizer a los nifos y propone que
el dinero que se consign sea
guardado en su casa.
Los ilfios recogen botellas
para venderlas y haceon pasteles
puertorriqueoos entire todos, con la
ayuda de Lolita, en Ia casa de don
Pepe. Los materials para bacer los
pasteles los consiguen donados por
comerciantes y vecinos. En el
pueblo, venden los pastels de casa
en casa. Sin embargo, esto solo
sirve para reunir part del dinero
que necesitan.
Lolita, en una visit con don
Pepe al pueblo, trata de convencer a
6ste para que compare ropa y
muebles con el dinero conseguido
por los nilos para los uniforms del
Mientras tanto, los nifios
bacon los preparatives para el circo
que iban a presenter con el
prop6sito de recaudar el dinero que
todavia les faltaba. En el lugar
destinado para el p6blico, los nifios
reservaron dos sillas para don Pepe
y Lolita. Pero las sillas

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malav6: Los pnloteros

permanecieron vaclas durante la
Luego de terminada la
funci6n del circo, Mopo nifio y sus
amiguitos van a casa de don Pepe
para que les rindan cuentas, ya que
un poco antes de iniciarse el
especticulo, N6stor habla llegado
con la noticia de que don Pepe habla
gastado el dinero de los uniforms
para comprarse ropa y muebles.
Al Ilegar a cams de don Pepe,
los niios confirman sus sospechas
de que habian sido traicionados.
Mis tarde, se re6nen para decidir
que hacer y acuerdan no volver a
hablarles a ninguno de los dos.
Ante el rechazo general, don
Pepe no tiene mis remedio que
llevar a una lechona que tenia al
matadero del pueblo y sacrificarla
para venderla y asi poder pagarle a
los niaos el dinero robado. Luego de
devolverles el dinero a Momo nifo,
frente al edificio del matadero,
donde poco minutes antes habia
sacrificado a su lechona, don Pepe
se alej6 abochornado ante las
miradas de la gente que Ie habian
seguido mientras 61 y su lechona
iban desde su casa al matadero.
Los nifios pudieron comprar
sus uniforms y jugar en la liga de
beibol organizado. En cambio, don
Pepe s6lo puede verlos jugar desde
lejos, ya que habia perdido la
confianza de los niAos para
En este moment terminal la
retroacci6a o 'flash-back'.
Volvemos a la reuni6o que so
celebraba frente al colmado. Los
vecinos discuten lo que pas6 en la
andcdota de Momo adulto y
concluyen que era important
saber escoger a su lider porque la
comunidad no podia darse el lujo de
tener a un don Pope entire ellos. Al
terminar la reuni6n, todos se alejan
a sus casas con la esperanza de que

entire todos podran construir la
escuela necesitada.

Estructura Narrativa

Al analizar la estructura
narrative de Los pRloteros el
argument fue dividido en site
parties principals:
1. Pr6logo
2. Fuera de juego
3. En Is uni6n esta la
4. La traici6n
5. La penitencia: procesi6n y
6. El triunfo
7. Epilogo

La trama mis interesante de
Los ealoterog comenz6 en la part
2 y termin6 en la part 6. Tanto el
pr61logo como el epilogo le restaron
impact a la historic central porque
el prl61ogo hizo mis lenta la pelicula
y el epilogo diluy6 el impact
dramitico del desenlace de la
historic central Esta historic
central se desarroll6 en forms
lineal, pero con el pr6logo y el
epilogo se convirti6 en una
retroacci6n ("flash-back") en
medlo de una reuni6n de vecinos
qua so celebrabs do noche frente a
un colmado de un barrio rural. Uno
de esos vecinos era Momo adulto
quien relat6 una andcdota de su
nifez para dar un ejemplo de c6mo
entire todos podlan resolver la falta
de una escuela en su comaunidad.
Cuando se regres6 al present en el
epilogo uno de los vecinos en la
reunion resumi6 la andcedota
sefalando que la comunidad no
podia darse el lujo do tener an lider
como don Pepe.
En estas dos parties
mencionadas la fuerza narrative
estuvo a minivel verbal y por eso

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malave: Los mloteros

contrastaban con la trama central
que fue rica tanto en la narrative
visual como en la verbal y la
La moraleja al final fue
forzada y demostr6 que estas dos
parties sirivieron de marco artificial
para presentar Ia historic de unos
nifios luchando para conseguir
dinero y comprar sus uniforms de
beisbol. De hecho esa historic era
aut6noma y no necesitaba de la
reuni6n al principio ni al final
para su desarrollo y para su
"Fuera de juego" fue la part
donde se present la marginaci6n
de los nifios, de don Pepe y Lolita.
Este era el problems principal de
estos personajes. Los nifos estaban
marginados por razones de edad y
por la pobreza de sus padres. Don
Pepe estaba desempleado y pot su
actitud de dejadez ante la vida
padecia limitaciones econ6micas y
se las hacla pasar a su joven esposa.
No buscaba trabajo y vivia del
recuerdo. Lolita desencantada de su
esposo queria ser aceptada a trav6s
de los simbolos do status social que
ofrece el consumismo. (No querla
integrarse al mundo imaginario que
promovia la publicidad.) Sin
embargo, ain en su marginalidad
los nifos descubrieron que por su
propio esfuerzo podlan cambiar su
En la part que identificamos
como "la unl6a trajo la esperanza"
se present a los niaos colaborando
juntos en su afn por solucionar su
problema. Poco a poco
consiguieron la colaboraci6a de so
comunidad y reunieron bastante
dinero para los uniforms a trav6s
de actividades que celebraron. Pero
ese momeato de esperanza se
ensombreci6 rapidamente cuando
menos to imaginaban.
"La traici6n" fue la part
donde se complic6 la situaci6n de.los

nifos. Ante la traici6n de su
entrenador y amigo, la
desesperanza y el coraje hicieron
que los muchachos desistieran de su
En la pane que identificamos
"la penitencia: procesi6n y
sacrificio", surgi6 lo inesperado
para los nifos cuando los vecinos
del barrio repudiaron a don Pepe
por la traici6n. El pueblo tambi6n
habia sido traicionado porque el
dinero robado to habta aportado la
misma comunidad al cooperar para
que los muchachos obtuvieran el
dinero de los uniforms. Ante la
solidaridad con los nilos y el
repudio de todo el pueblo, el
corrupt tuvo que reparar su falta.
Don Pepe lo hizo de la (mnica forma
que estaba a su alcance para pagar
la deuda r6pidamente: vendi6 su
lechona. En la escena cuando don
Pepe vendi6 su lechona, el pueblo
esperaba a las afueras del matadero
luego de haberse unido a la
procesi6n de don Pepe y la lechona
camino al lugar del sacrificio. De
hecho, en la mayoria de los
moments positives cuando los
niflos se acercaban a la soluci6n de
su problema, la presencia del
pueblo so hizo patented. (Por
ejemplo, en la part que llamamos
"la uni6n trajo la esperanza"
personas representatives del pueblo
estuvieron present en dos de las
secuencias). La escena de mayor
fuerza dramatica de la pelicula fue
cuando don Pepe tuvo que atravesar
la muralla humana formads por la
gentle del pueblo luego que le
devolvi6 el dinero a los niios.
Cuando atraves6 esa muralla, don
Pepe so alej6 bajando la cabeza y
secAndose las ligrimas de la
"El triunfo" fue la part
donde se di6 enfasis al exito luego
del esfuerzo solidario y so present
la marginaci6n de los que pierden
la conflanza del pueblo. Esto

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malav#: Los eloteros

ultimo, le pas6 a don Pepe quien,
bAsicamente, era un hombre bueno
que perdi6 la oportunidad de ser
mejor cuando por debilidad de
carActer se corrompi6. A pesar del
gesto de vender su lechona para
devolver el dinero, los niflos y el
pueblo le perdieron la conflanza a
don Pepe para siempre. Esto es, una
vez perdida la confianza en alguien
no hay nada que pueda hacer esa
persona para recobrarla. Ese era el
destino de los traidores en el barrio
Cielito de Comerlo, Puerto Rico.
A nivel mis abstract, Los
peloteros es una historic moral
sobre la honestidad y la confianza
donde se exploraron las relaciones
entire los concepts marginalidad,
solidaridad, traici6n, penitencia y

Puesta en escena

Al analizar la puesta en
escena de la pelicula Lo
peloteros. ciertos objetos cobraron
significaci6n por su posici6n dentro
del piano y por su repetici6n a
trav6s del film. Esos objetos tenfan
un caracter enfitico o se
presentaban en oposici6n a otros,
significando alternatives
mutuamente excluyentes para los
En el primer caso, estaban el
espejo y las fotograffas en la pared
de la sala comedor de la casa de don
Pepe y Lolita (secuencias 5,11 y
13).0 Tanto el espejo como las
fotograflas sirvieron de 6nfasis
visual para significar el problema
de identidad de don Pepe y Lolits
que era resultado de la
insatisfacci6n de ellos por la
situaci6n de sus vidas.
Don Pepe fue el primero en
pararse frente al espejo y lo hizo
con el prop6sito de probarse por
encima de su ropa el viejo uniform
de pelotero que evidenciaba un

pasado mejor. Al lado izquierdo del
espejo vertical de pared, estaban
pegados various recortes de prensa
con fotos de don Pepe y noticias
sobre Ia 6poca cuando 6ste jugaba
beisbol.1 Un poco mis arriba,
estaba una foto grande de la boda de
don Pepe y Lolita.
El moment cuando don Pepe
se miraba al espejo se film con la
t6cnica realist del piano en
profundidad. Este piano fue
interrumpido para intercalar otros
y luego se continue hasta
terminarlo con un fundido de cierre
(fade out). A continuaci6n, los
pianos del moment mencionados:

1. Piano en profundidad de
don Pepe mirandose al espejo
mientras Momo le observaba.
Cuando don Pepe fue a
ponerle el uniform sobre la
ropa a Momo para que 6ste
tambidn se viera en el espejo,
gir6 la vista en direcci6n
hasta el lado de la sala donde
estaba Lolita quien no
aparecla en este piano.(14

2. Primer piano (close up)
de Lolita levantAndose y
mirando a lo lejos con
atenci6n. (2 seg.)

3. Piano general (long
shot) de un joven bien
vestido que caminaba al otro

1 En el pmo arior al de don Pope wado
a aspejo so distiagua mejor @d cooamid de lo
recom doe pm apompq ts e filnmdo dmle un
nto de vista m0s caano.
En ocami6n miizmi Ia imagz si m
m cuMa 0l saido do la polcula. Sin embargo,
el efecto do am ucem y de otas m act6an coa
la bmda msooa D hecho, do Pepe gir6 Ia
vista m I inmto dmpqum de djrane de oir d
ruido dei iMa dado mi st meciasom Lolita
fims del encomrB (smnido off). Eito eaim el
estilo reM t do la eecm ya q el somido off
agies una mridad mis allA do lm itae do la

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malav6: Los ploteros

lado de la calle, frente a la
casa de don Pepe y Lolita. (3

4. Primer piano de Lolita
sonriendo y sentandose. (3

5. Piano en profundidad de
don Pepe confundido y
preocupado al darse cuenta
de lo que le estaba Uamando
la atenci6n a su joven esposa.
Ajeno a lo que sucedla a su
alrededor, Momo se miraba al
espejo entusiasmado con el
uniform de don Pepe sobre
su ropa. Don Pepe le quit6
el uniform a Momo mientras
se despedla de 61. Momo
sali6 del encuadre por el lado
izquierdo. Don Pepe di6 un
vistazo hacia el lado derecho
donde estaba su esposa
del encuadre y comenz6 a
caminar hacia la esquina
inferior izquierda de la
pantalla hasta detetenerse en
un punto donde s6lo so vela el
lado do su hombro. En el
centro de la pantalla estaban
la foto de la boda y el
espejo vertical con el reflejo
de la imagen de don Pepe do
espaldas. Fundido de cierre
(fade out). (21 seg.)

Pan fines do este studio,
esta sucesi6n de pianos fue
indentificada como frase
cinematografica A. En el piano
namero 4 de esta frase
cinematogrifica, cuando Lolit so
sentaba, iba desapareciendo por la
partner inferior de la pantalla dejando
al descubierto cuatro fotos
recortadas do revistas que estaban
pegadas en la pared detrAs de ella.
Tres de esas fotos eran do aauncios
donde apareclan rostros de mujeres
j6venes bien maquilladas y

peinadas. La foto que estaba en la
pane inferior izquierda era un
primer piano de una mujer joven
acompaAada de un hombre joven
bien vestido. La cuarta foto estaba
al lado inferior derecho de la
pantalla y en esta aparecia un piano
medio (medium shot) de un
hombre maduro vestido
elegantemente con chaqueta,
corbata y sombrero mientras
hablaba por telefono. Todas estas
fotos no significaban un recuerdo
do un pasado mejor como sucedia
con las fotos de don Pepe
anteriormente mencionadas. Mis
bien, significaban el ideal de vida a
que aspiraba Lolita. Desde su
pobreza, Loits veola la image de sla
belleza producida por el maquillaje
femenino y el vestido masculino
elegant como signos de una
condici6n social superior.
Las fotos de don Pepe y los del
piano numero 4 estaban en
territories opuestos, a ambos lados
de Is puerta do entrada a la
habitaci6n que compartian don
Pope y Lolita, Esa oposici6n espacial
dentro de la puests en escena
adquirira un significado mayor en
la secuencia 13 que soer analizada
mis adelante.
Cuando Lolita se mir6 al
espejo ean l secuencia 11, no
buscaba una image de un pasado
mejor como su esposo Pope sino que
so maquillaba tratando do igualar el
ideal de las fotos de las revistas y se
arreglaba cuidadosamente el vestido
para tener la apariencia nitida
necesaria on el mundo do sus
La apariencia de don Pepe
ern lo opuaesto de la imagen ideal de
Lolita: era much mayor que ella y
vestla en forms descuidada con
tirantes, chaleco, un gorro de
pelotero y una colilla de cigarrillo
siempre on uns oreja.
La frase cinematografica B
que correspondia a un moment de
lt secuencia 11 sirvi6 para

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malav6: Los Mploteros

significar la diferencia entire el
ideal de Lolita y la apariencia de don
Pepe. A continuaci6n la frase
cinematogrtfica B:

1. Piano en profundidad de
Lolita terminando de
acomodarse el vestido frente
al espejo. Sali6 don Pepe por
la puerta de la habitaci6a
mientras se ponia el chaleco
y fumaba un cigarrillo. En el
moment en que arrojaba las
cenizas del cigarrillo al piso,
Lolita se le acerc6 y comenz6
a arreglarle el cuello de la
camisa a don Pepe. (23 seg.)

2. Piano medio (medium
shot) de Lolita arreglandole
el cuello a It camisa de don
Pepe y acomodandole el
chaleco. Entonces, Lolita
mir6 el gorro de pelotero que
tenia puesto don Pepe, so lo
quit6 y lo ech6 a un lado
tropezando con el espejo que
comenz6 a moverse. Lolita
souri6 cuando vio a don Pepe
sin el gorro y comenz6 a
tomarlo del brazo. (14 seg.)

3. Piano en profundidad de
Lolita sonreida tomando del
brazo a don Pepe y
caminando con 61 hacia la
puerta que daba a la calle. Al
fondo, el espejo segula
movi6ndose. Don Pope
caminaba al lado de su esposa
fumando el cigarillo.(8 seg.)

En la secuencia 13 apsreci6 el
espejo nuevamente como un
element significant dentro de la
puesta en escena. Esta vez, se vela
reflejado en este la image de don
Pepe que se encontrabe fuera del
encuadre. Estaba cabizbajo, muerto
de la vergfenza, ante It presencia
de los niflos on su casa luego que 61

los traicionara gastando el dinero de
ellos en muebles y ropa.

A continuaci6n la frase
cinematogrifica C:

1. Piano en profundidad
donde se veia el perfil de don
Pepe reflejado en el espejo
aunque 61 fisicamente se
encontraba fuera del
encuadre. Don Pepe estaba
vestido con un traje nuevo.
Habia una limpara y otros
objetos nuevos. La puerta de
la habitaci6n se abri6 y sali6
Lolita. En ese moment, don
Pepe quien habia estado
cabizbajo levant6 la vista,
seg6n se apreci6 en la
image de 61 en el espejo.
Lolita se dlrigi6 al espejo y
comenz6 a arregiarse el
vestido. De esa forma bloque6
la image de don Pepe en el
espejo impidiendo su
visibilidad. (5 seg.)

2. Primer piano (close-up)
de Tato. Detrds semioculto
estaba Luis. Ambos miraban
finamente y enojados. (2

3. Primer piano de Nestor
mirando fijamento y enojado.
(1.5 seg.)

4. Primer piano de Momo
mirando hacia abajo con
tristeza. (2 seg.)

5. Primer piano de Amilcar
mirando con desconfianza y
emojo. (2 seg.)

6. Piano en profundidad de
Lolita terminando de
arregiarse el vestido.
Entonces, se vir6 en nl
direcei6n donde estaban los
muchachos fuera del

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malavy: Los peloleros

encuadre. Al virarse se pudo
ver parte de la imagen de don
Pepe en el espejo. Lolita baj6
la vista hacia su vestido y le
sacudi6 algo con la mano.
Ella se acerc6 hacia las
derecha del encuadre
permitiendo as[ que se viera
nuevamente el perfil de don
Pepe en el espejo. Lolita baj6
la vista mostrando
turbaci6n y aspir6
profundamente. (23 seg.)

7. Primer piano de Lolita
mientras hablaba. En la
pared del fondo estaban la
mismas fotos del piano 4 de la
frase cinematogrifica A. (8

8. Primer piano de don Pope
cabizbajo. Levant6 la vista
en direcci6n hacia donde
estaba Lolita fuera de la
pantalla, baj6 la vista, cerr6
los ojos y frunci6 el cefio.
Detris de 61, en la pared,
estaba un recorte de
peri6dico con fotos
sobre las hazalas de don Pepe
como pelotero. (4 seg.)

9. Piano americano (314
shot) de Lolita detrs de la
mesa del comedor. Se
acercaron Amilcar y los otros
muchachos. (10 seg.)

10. Piano general (oang
shot) de Ia ala comedor
donde aparecia don Pepe
cabizbajo al lado inferior
izquierdo de pantalla con un
peri6dico enrollado en sus
manos. En la part superior
izquierda, en la pared, estaba
la foto de sla boda de don Pepe
y Lolita. A su lado, estaba el
espejo que, esta vez, no
reflejaba ninguna figure

humana y, mis bien, parecia
un rectingulo negro o vaclo.
En las dos terceras panes
restantes, a la derecha de la
pantalla estaban Lolita y los
muchachos parados alrededor
de la mesa del comedor
discutiendo. (12 seg.)

Esta frase cinematogrtfica
correspondi6 al moment en que los
muchachos fueron a reclamarle a
don Pepe y a Lolita que devolvieran
el dinero robado. Don Pepe apareci6
en esta sucesi6n de pianos en forma
pasiva y avergonzado. Por su
caracter dibil traicion6 a los
muchachos que tanto le admiraban.
Los inicos personajes de esta
pellcula que valoraban a don Pepe
eran estos muchachos. Lolita, su
esposa, le reprochaba que estuviese
desempleado y le hacia
insinuaciones sobre su edad. En
otra escena, un joven frente a un
cafetin le dijo a don Pepe que era un
Don Pepe habta perdido lo
que fortalecla su valor propio. Su
crisis do identidad se agudiz6. Ya no
vela en el espejo ai hombre mayor
recordando las hazafias deportivas
de su juventud. Ahora 61 so
reflejaba en el espejo como si fuese
otuo de los objetos inanimados
reci6n comprados que se
encontraban n la sala. Su mirada
era tan vacia como la del maniqui de
la tienda donde compararon el traje
nuevo que tenia puesto.
En los pianos 1 y 6, cuando
Lolita bloque6 la image de don
Pepe se estableci6 una relaci6n de
causa y efecto. Ella era responsible
de ia desintegraci6n de lo poco que
le quedaba de positive a la identidad
de ese hombre frustrado y de
autoestima baja que habia vivido de
los recuerdos el pamsdo y de la
admiraci6n de esos nifos. en el
piano 10, se reforz6 la pdrdida de
identidad de don Pepe con la
apariencia vacia del espejo.

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malav6: Los peloteros

En los pianos 7 y 8, se le di6
6nfasis a las contradicciones entire
las motivaciones de los personajes
Lolita y don Pepe. Las fotos en la
pared eran el signo visual que
revelaba eso. Don Pepe aspiraba a
revivir su pasado y Lolita queria
alcanzar el ideal de la mujer que las
fotos de las revistas proponian.
Ademas, ella creia que la felicidad se
consegula con la acumulaci6n de
objetos y no de lo que la gente
La separaci6n fisisca entire el
espacio donde estaba Lolits y el
espacio donde estaba don Pepe en
los diferentes pianos de esta frase
cinmatogrifica reafirm6 el
distanciamiento emotional entire
estos dos personajes que ya se
vislumbraba en la frase
cinmatogrifica A.
Otro objeto con una funci6n
enfatica fue Ia verja de alambre
eslabonado (cyclone fence) de la
cancha de pelota. Esta verja estuvo
en Ia secuencia 3 y en la 17
significando la marginaci6n de los
muchachos y de don Pepe. Al
principio tanto los muchachos como
don Pepe estaban fuera del juego
oficiaL Al final, por ms propio
esfuerzo, los muchachos tenian su
uniform y estaban integrados al
b6isbol organizado. Pero don Pepe
habia perdido Ia confianza de los
muchachos. Por eso, so qued6 solo y
fuera del juego para siempre.

A condnuaci6n la frase
cinematogrifica D que era part de
la secuencia 3:

1. Piano en profundidad la
verja estaba mis cerca y los
muchachos pasaban
caminando por detris de Ia
verja cargando el poco
equipo que tenian para jugar
b6isbol. Mientras
caminaban, miraban hacia el

interior de la cancha de
pelota. Don Pepe y Momo
venfan al final. Momo se
detiene y se acerca a la verja.
(26 seg.)

2. Primer piano (close-up)
de Momo mirando a trav6s de
la verja y agarrindose de los
alambres. Primero esta serio
luego se sonrle levemente. (4

3. Piano americano (314
shot) de un joven con
uniform capturando un
batazo en el aire lanzando la
bola ripidamente. (4 seg.)

4. Close-up de Momo
pensativo agarrandose de los
alambros de la verja. Don
Pepe se acerc6, le toc6 el
hombro a Momo quien se
vir6, so levant6 y continue su
camino. Don Pepe le ech6 el
brazo pot los hombros a
Momo. La verja permaneci6
en la pantalia durante 2
segundos. (10 seg.)

La secuencia 17 era la 61ltima
de la historic central de la pelicula
Los ptloteros y la 61tima imagen
que vemos en esta part tiene Ia
verja separando a don Pepe de lo
que acontece en la cancha.

A continuaci6n la frase
cinematogrifica E:

1. Piano medio (medium
shot) de un irbitro
anunciando el inicio de un
juego. (3 seg.)

2. Primer piano de Luis con
uniform de receptor
jugando en su posici6n y
poni6ndose la careta
protector. (3 seg.)

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malav6: Los neloteros.

3. Piano medio de Nistor
jugando. (3 seg.)

4. Piano medio de Tato
jugando. (3 seg.)

5. Piano medio de Raulito
jugando. (4 seg.)

6. Piano medio de Amilcar
lanzando la bola. (7 seg.)

7. Piano medio de don Pepe
mirando el juego detras de la
verja vestido con su ropa
habitual pero sin el chaleco
puesto. Tiene la colilla de
cigarrillo en una oreja.

8. Primer plano de Momo
jugando. En un moment,
mir6 hacia donde estaba don
Pepe quo so encontraba fuera
de la pantalla.

9. Primer piano de don Pepe
que baj6 la vista al sentirse
descubierto. Camin6 hacia el
lado izquierdo de la pantalla.
Panor6mica hacia la
izquierda. Al iniciar so
march, don Pepe so vai
poniendo el chaleco. Da un
61timo vistazo al interior de
la cancha mientras continue
caminando. Fundido de
cierre (fade out). (24 seg.)

La marginaci6n era un tema
recurrent en otras pellculas de la
division de Educaci6a de la
comunidad. Los personajes estaban
marginados del progress y a trav6s
del esfuerzo conjunto lograban
mejorar su comunidad a integrarse
asl a la corriente progresista del
pals. El juego de b6isbol y los
deportees grupales en general ban
significado el 6xito por medio de la
colaboraci6n y autosuperaci6n. De
hecho, en la secuencia 3 de la

pelicula Los pRloteros Momo se
sacrifice bateando de out con el
prop6sito de que N6stor adelantara
de segunda base a tercera y asi
tratar de asegurar una carrera para
su equipo.
En las secuendias 12 y 13,
aparecieron unos objetos en
oposici6n a otros, significando
alternatives mutuamente
excluyentes para los personajes.
En la secuencia 12, se
present el circo que organizaron
los muchachos con el prop6sito de
recaudar parte de los fondos para
comprar sus uniforms. Entre el
p6blico estaban dos sillas vaclas que
hablan reservado los muchachos
para don Pepe y Lolita. A pesar de
que eran unas sillas humildes,
significaban los mejores lugares
disponibles para dos personas
especiales por la forma que les
hablan ayudado hasta ese moment.
Sin embargo, a punto de comenzar
la funci6n lieg6 N6stor con la
noticia de que don Pope y Lolita se
hablan comprado unos muebles
nuevos con el dinero de los
uniforms que estaba guardando
don Pepe en su casm. Ni los
personajes ni el espectador de la
peiicula sablan a ciencia cierta si
N6stor decla la verdad.
Esto le di cierto suspense a la
presencia de las sillas vacias. Si
apareclan don Pepe y Lolita, y se
sentaban en las sillas esto
significaba que habian sido
hoarados y no hablan traicionado a
los muchachos. Durante today la
funci6n Momo y Amilcar estuvieron
pendientes de las sillas reservadas.
A continuaci6n cinco frases
cinematogrificas que so dieron en
la secuencia nfumero 12
relacionadas con las dos sillas

Frase cinematografica F

1. Piano americano (3/4)
shot donde Luis y Momo traen

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malav#: Los peloteros

una silla cada uno. Las
colocan en su sitio. Amilcar
espera que acomoden las dos
sillas y le coloca a cada una
su letrero que dice reservado.
Salen los tres por el lado
derecho de la pantalla y se
quedan las dos sillas vaclas
durante 2 segundos (10 seg.)

2. Piano medio de las sillas
vacias con sus letreros de
reservado. Atras se velan
nifios sentados en el suelo
disfrutando la funci6n.
Panorimica hacia la
izquierda donde se mostr6 a
los niios del p6blico riendo
mientras estaban disfrutando
de la funci6n. (6.5 seg.)

3. Piano medio de Momo y
Amilcar mirando con tristeza
y preocupaci6n. Amilcar
mir6 a Momo luego de mirar
hacia el p6blico. (3.5 seg.)

Frase cinematografica H

1. Piano medio (medium
shot) de Amilcar desde el
Irea del camerino. Abri6 una
cortina de saco para asomarse
y mirar on direcci6a donde
estaban las sillas vacias. (3

2. Piano medio de las dos
sillas vaclas con letreros do
reservado. (2 seg.)

Frase ciaematogrifica I

1. Gran primer piano
(extreme close-up) del
letrero del camerino
tambaleandose por la iluvia.
Esti a punto de caerse, ya so
zaf6 de un lado.

2. Gran primer piano de los
dos r6tulos de reservado
mojandose en el suelo
mientras Ilueve. Se ve part
de un banco virado. (9 seg.)

En oposici6n a las dos sillas
vaclas estaban los muebles nuevos.
Si no llegaban don Pepe y Lolita a la
funci6a eso presagiaba que se
hablan comprado los muebles
nuevos con el dinero de los
uniforms. La unica forma de
corroborarlo era yendo a la casa de
don Pepe y Lolita. En la secuencia
13 se confirm ia traici6n.

Frase cinematografica K

1. Primer piano (close-up)
de don Pepe, vestido con traje
y corbata, mientras
dormitaba. De moment, se
sobresalt6 y mir6 hacia el
frente donde estaba la puerta
que no aparecka en este
piano. En la pared de fondo
aparecia el recorte de
periodic con el titular: Pepe
L6pez Campo6n Bate...(2 seg.)

2. Piano medio (medium
shot) de la puerta cerrada
que se abri6 abruptamente
entrando Amilcar seguido de
N6stor quienes miraron con
coraje a don Pepe. Amilcar se
fij6 on los muebles nuevos y
se acerc6 un poco a 6stos que
no apareclan en ese instant
en la pantalla. Panorimica
horizontal hacia la izquierda
combinada con panorimica
vertical hacia abajo (pan
left with tilt down) hasta
que dejaba ver Ia mano de
AmIlcar tocando uno de los
muebles nuevos; panoramica
izquierda mostrando el
mueble tocado por Amilcar.
(12 seg.)

3. Piano medio de Amilcar,
N6stor, Tato Braulito y Momo

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malav6: Los p. loteros

mirando a don Pepe con
enojo. (3 seg.)

4. Piano medio con
panoramica a la izquierda de
los muebles, mostrando soft,
mesa del centro con florero,
figuritas decorativas sobre
un mantel y en la esquina un
cigarro en un cenicero.
Panorimica vertical hacia
abajo (tilt-down) mostrando
el piso con una alfombra de
lineoleo nueva y los zapatos
nuevos de don Pepe.
-Panoramica vertical hacia
arriba (tilt-up) mostrando
el peri6dico que tiene don
Pepe sobre sus muslos
mientras agarraba los brazos
del sill6n, la cimara llega
hasta Piano Medio
(medium shot) donde so
distingula que don Pepe
al suelo avergonzado. (31

Amilcar y Momo eran los
muchachos mis apegados a don
Pepe. Amilcar era el hlder natural.
Muchas de las ideas que adopt el
grupo y las acciones que realize
provinieron de la iniciativa de
Amilcar. Momo era el preferido de
don Pepe porque se Ie parecla
bateando. Momo era el mis
sentimental Fue el 6nico de los
nifos que Hoar ea la pelicula. Por
ser ellos los mis cercanos a don
Pepe, fueron los que estuvieron
pendientes de las sillas vaclas on la
secuencia nimero 12.
En la secuencia numero 3,
cuando sali6 por primers vez don
Pepe, dandole consejos a los
muchachos, Amilcar y Momo
estaban sentados cada uno al lado de
El cigarro que apareci6 en el
piano numero 4 de la frase

cinematogifica K evoc6 a otro
cigarro que Momo le habia regalado
a don Pepe en la secuencia numero
3. Momo le habla quitado a
escondidas un cigarro a su papi
para darselo a don Pepe.
La dicotomia entire sillas
humildes reservadas y muebles
nuevos finos signific6 el conflict
entire la honradez y la
deshonestidad; entire la verguenza y
el dinero; entire la solidaridad y la
En la secuencia n6mero 13,
Momo rompi6 la alcancla en forma
de lechoncito, que contenla el
dinero recaudado en el circo, contra
la mesa nueva de la sala de don
Pepe. Al romper la alcancia dej6
establecido que para 61 y los
muchachos lo que les habla hecho
don Pepe era algo mis que robarle
el dinero. Habia sembrado en ellos
la desconfi nza. Cuando se
retiraron de la casa de don Pepe
dejaron esas monedas sobre la mesa
prque hablan cosas mis
importantes que unas cuantas
monedas. En esa misma secuencia
don Pepe toc6 con sus manos las
piezas del lechoncito roto sobre la
mesa. Esto presagiaba el gesto mis
important de don Pepe en esta


El anilisis de la puesta en
escena de la pelicula La
elotermu demostr6 que tiene un
estilo predominantemente realist.
Sin embargo, tambien posee un
gran valor en el uso del lenguaje
cinematogrifico y una riqueza
semintica a nivel figurative que la
ha distinguido de muchas otras
policulas de character educative
realizadas on Puerto Rico.
Aunque no estudiamos a
fondo los otros niveles narratives
del cine, fue evidence tambi6n la

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Malav6: Los oeloteros

riqueza de este film en sus niveles
narrative verbal y sonoro-musical.
Un studio sobre la relaci6n entire el
nivel figurative y el sonoro-musical
se hace necesario porque ambos
estuvieron bajo el control del
director de la pelicula quien no
solamente dirigi6 la puesta en
escena sino que compuso la misica
para el film.
El metodo desarrollado para el
analisis de la pellcula demostr6 los
niveles en que se interrelacionan
los diferentes elements figurativos
de un film. Este m6todo aplicado a
los diferentes niveles narratives
puede dar una comprensi6n amplia
de la significaci6n filmica y puede
ser aplicado por los estudiosos del
arte cinematogrifico y por los
estudiantes de producci6n filmica
porque Ilega, en forma inversa, al
mismo nivel de las decisions
esteticas del realizador. De echo el
analisis del piano y de los
fotogramas se parece a la forma en
que an director analiza su material
cuando lo examine on la moviola
durante el process de montaje.
Por otro lado, en la pelicula
Los npeoteros estuvieron
presents muchos de los temas y
motivos del populismo que
correspondian a los objetivos de la
Divisi6n de Educaci6n de la
Comunidad. Pero a diferencia de
otras peliculas de la agencia, el
tratamiento cinematografico le dio
mayor dinamismo y la dlferencl6
grandemente de otras que fallaron
en impactar al p6blico porque
presentaron sus objetivos didacticos
en una forma obvia a trav6s de la
narraci6n verbal y no a trav6s del
lenguaje figurative como fue el caso
de Los oterosm. De hecho, no se
han equivocado aquellos que
identificaron a la pellcula Loa
etioteros como una de las mejores
peliculas realizadas en Puerto Rico.


Delano, Jack. Entrevista relizada en
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, 9 de
mayo de 1977.

G6nzalez Diaz, Emilio (1977). El
Posulismo en Puerto
Rico. 1930-1952. Tesis
doctoraL Universidad
Aut6noma de M6xico.

lanni, Octavio (1980). La
formaci6n del Estado
populista en America
Latina. Segunda Edici6n.
Mexico: Ediciones Era.

Lotman, Yuri (1979). Estftica I
semi6tica del cine.
Colecci6n Punto y
Linea. Barcelona: Gustavo

Pasolini, Pier Paolo (1976). "The
Cinema of Poetry." Bill
Nichols(ed.), Movies and
Methods (pp.542- 558).
California: University of
California Press.

Quintero Rivera, Angel G. (1980).
"La base social de la
transformaci6n ide6logica
del Partido Popular en la
ddcada del '40." En Gerardo
Navas Davila (ed.), CambhL.1
desarrollo en Puerto
Rico: la transformaci6n
del Partido Popular
DemorAtico (pp. 35-119).
Rio Piedras : Editorial

Apendice A

Log glteros

SARGASSO 8 (1992)

Malavt: Los nRtoteros

16 mm. en blanco y negro

81 minutes


Jack Delano

Amllcar Tirado

Edwin Rosskam

Edwin Rosskam, basado en una idea
de Amilcar Tirado.

John Hawes

Benji Doniger

Gabriel Tirado y Jesus Figueroa

Jack Delano

Jos6 Ra61l Ramirez

H6ctor Moll

Jos6 Enrique Torres

Manuel San Fernando


1. Ram6n Rivero (Dipto)

Caribbean Film

2. Miriam Col6n

3. Amilcar Tirado
Momo adulto

4. Perin VAzquez

5. Jos6 Manuel Matos
Momo niflo

6. Narciso CobiAn

7. Daniel Colon

8. Celso Alvarado

9. Juan B. Figueros

10. Ra6l Col6n

Filmada en el barrio Cielito de

Costo: $ 61, 800.00

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film




on the



Carmen Gloria Romero
Biblioteca Regional del
Caribe y de Estudios
Universidad de Puerto Rico


This bibliography is the end
product of a request for
information and reviews on the
films produced in non-Hispanic
Caribbean countries.
We began our search with
John A. Lent's Caribbean Mass
Communication: A
Comprehensive Bibllogranhy
and with the Hispanic American
Periodicals Index (HAPI). A
third source searched was the
newspaper Caribbean Contact
from 1982--the year after Lent's
bibliography was published--to
We have indentifled in the
citations the items taken from
Lent's bibliography and we have
used the letters "BRC" to indicate
those items which can be found in
the Biblioteca Regional del
Caribe y de Estudies
Latinoamericanos, University of
Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus.

We hope the bibliography
will serve not only as a starting
point for anyone interested in the
field of non-Hispanic Caribbean
cinema, but that it will also stand as
a preliminary inventory of our own
holdings on this topic.
Certainly this is far from
being an exhaustive search. There
are many other reference sources
in other libraries which must be
consulted in order to compile a
complete and comprehensive
bibliography on the subject. In the
meantime, we hope that ours will
make a small contribution towards
that goal.


"Affiches de films haitiens."
Conf~ctimo June-Sept. 1983: 63-73.
Agard, John. "Georgetown--For the
Best in Film Facilities." Caribbean
Contact July 1977: 21. BRC, Lent

Antonin, Arnold. "Cinemas: To Hell
and Back." Trinidad Guardian 17
May 1970: 1. Lent
"Bahamas May Get More Filming, If
Gear, Wardrobe Untaxed." Variety
24 Mar 1976: 7. Lent
Bloomfield, Valerie. "Caribbean
Films". Journal of
Librarianblp Oct. 1977: 278-314.
Burton, Julianne. "The Harder They
Come." Caribbean Review 8.2
(1978): 33-37. BRC
---. "The Harder They Come:
Cultural Colonialism and the
American Dream." Jump Cut Mar-
Apr 1975: 5-7. Lent

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film



Charles, Christophe. "Pour une
biofilmographie de Rassoul
Labuchin." Conjiction June-Sept
1983: 75- 80. BRC

"Cinema Drops Film on Russia."
Trinidad Guardian 18 May 1970:
1. Lent

"Cultural Links With Havana...: New
Belafonte Film Premieres in
Grenada." Caribbean Contact
Feb. 1983: 14.

Desquir6n Cardozo, Lilas, Henri
Micciollo, Rassoul Labuchin. "D6bat
t616vis6 sur Anita." Conjiction
June-Sept. 1983: 127-134.

Dhunjibboy, Roshan. "The
Emancipation of Cinema."
Caribbean Media in Transition.
Mona, Jamaica: Institute of Mass
communication, University of The
West Inides, 1979. 25-27. Lent

"Filmtichting, "West Indie." D]
West-Indische Gids 29 (1948):
251. Lent

Frederick, J.L. "Adult Teaching
with Film in Trinidad, BWI."
Colonial Cinem 9 (1951): 34-36.

"Gold Medal for BIM." Caribbean
Contact Dec 1975: 20. BRC, Lent

Gorkom, J.A.J. van. "De Filmukunst
in Suriname." Culturele
Activiteit in Suriname.
Paramaribo: Stichtung Cultureel
Centrum Suriname, 1957: 76- 83.
BRC, Lent

"Guyana Bans "BIM." Carihbba
Contact Dec 1975: 13. BRC, Lent

"Guyanese Film Wins 'Moscow-
Award.'" Caribbean Contact Sept
1977: 3. BRC, Lent

"I Look at My Life." Caribbean
Contact Sept 1985: 15. BRC

Kanter, Deborah. "Plantation
Society: Martinique's Sugar Cane
Alle." Caribbean Review 14.1
(1985): 32-35.

Klain, Stephen. "Virgin Islands:
Cineposium 4; Every State as a
Paradise." Variety 7 Dec 1977: 28.

Kogan, Marcela. "El hemisferio
proyecta una nueva imagen"
AmZuicau 42.5 (1990): 56-57.

Labuchin, Rassoul. "La femme
haitienne dans le cinema."
Concoction June-Sept 1983: 105-
122. BRC

Landry, Robert J. Virgin Islands
Actively Woo Screen, Tube and Biz
Films." Varidty 7 Dec 1977: 28.

---. "Virgin Isles Grant a Film Corp.
First Tax Exemption 'Incentive '"
Variety 14 Dec 1977: 26. Lent

Lafontant-Medard, Micheille.
"Analyse thematique du film Anita
de Rassoul Labuchin. Conoction
June-Sept 1983: 105-122. BRC

--"Le Cinema en Haiti de 1899 i
1982 vu i travers le film
destv6nements." Connoction
June-Sept 1983: 11-61. BRC

Lent, John A. Caribbesan Mass
Communications: A
Comprehensive Bibliography.
Waltham, MA: Crossroads Press,
1981. BRC

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Romero: Bibliography

---. Third World Mass Media
and Their Search for
Modernity: The Case of the
Commonwealth Caribbean.
1717-1976. Lewisburg, PA:
Bucknell Unitversity Press, 1977.

MacNutlan, Dudley. "Jamaican Pics
Prize Bradshaw." Variety 18 Aug
1976: 27. Lent

Mills, Sonia. "21st Child Realises
Dreams." Caribbean Contact Nov
1989: 16. BRC

Morris, Mervyn. "The Arts in
Jamaica: When a Freedom was
Released and the Desert Flowered."
Commomwealth Apr-May 1975: 9-
11. BRC, Lent

Nation, Fitzroy. "Countryman.
Jamaica's Latest Popular Film About
a Superhero." Caribbean Contact
May 1982: 13. BRC

"New Guyanese Film." Caribbean
Contact Mar 1975: 12. BRC, Lent

Nichols, Grace. "Films That Show Us
To Be Beautiful, Important People."
Caribbean Contact Jan 1978: 9.
BRC, Lent

"Odd Times Indeedl" C hbean
Contact Feb 1976: 6. BRC, Lent

Pattullo, Polly. "Alfrey's Orchid
House Filmed." Caribbean
Contact Jan-Feb 1991:18. BRC

Pereira, Lisa. "The Performing Arts
And Books : A Powerful Weapon."
Caribbean Contact Jan 1990: 14.

Rennals, Martin A. Development
of the Documentary Film In

Jamaica. Dissertation, Boston U,
1968. Lent

"Visual Education in Jamaica."
Colonial Cinema 11 (1953): 15- 19.
BRC, Lent

"Right Location." New
Commonwealth 29 Oct 1956: 455.

Rios, Humberto Andr6s. "Esperanza
caribefia." Plural 2nd ser. Jan
1986: 47-53.

Ryan, Selwyn. "BIM Movie."
Caribbean Contact Feb 1975: 2.
BRC, Lent

Segal, Aaron. "The Land of Look
Behind: A Film About Reggae and
Rastafarianism." Caribbean
Review 12.2 (1983): 36- 37. BRC

-."Rockers: A Different Image of
Jamaica." Caribbean Review 10.2
(1981): 38-39. BRC

Sellers, W. "Film Production in the
West Indies." Colonial Cimena 9
(1951 ): 91-92. BRC, Lent

"Sharc's New Film." Caribbean
Contact June 1975: 20. BRC, Lent

Slater, Candace. "The Harder
They Come and the Picaresque
Hero." Review 76 Fall 1976: 88-91.

StJuste, Franklyn. "The Role for
Film in the Caribbean."
Caribbean Media in Transition.
Mona, Jamaica: Institute of Mass
Communication, University of the
West Indies, 1979. 28-30. Lent

Swindles, J. "Filmkunst."
Cultureel Mozaiek van
Suriname. Bijdrage tot Onderling

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Romero: Bibliography
Begrip. De Walburg Pers Zutphen,
C.F.J. Schriks, 1977. 340-348. Lent
Timmer, H. "Forogafie, Film en
Bioscoop." Cultureel Mozaiek
van de Nederlandse Antillen.
Varianten en Constanten. De
Walburg Pers Zutphen, C. F.J.
Schriks, 1977. 262-278. Lent
"Virgin Islands College Credit
Course Tied into Film Festival."
Variety 30 Nov 1977: 6. Lent
"Virgin Islands Hosts Jan 23-25 Film
Commissions Cineposium." Variety
25 Oct. 1978. Lent
"The West Indies Film Training
School, 1950." Colonial Cinema 8
(1950): 66-69. BRC





Jesus Diaz Rodriguez
La Habana, Cuba

When something is said about
the relationship between film and
literature, very often we are really
thinking in terms of the
relationship between fiction film
and fiction literature. Those who
think so, assume that they are
referring to the entire realm of
film and literature. Just as North
Americans talk about America
forgetting that there is a Central
America and a South America, and
that even in North America there is
also Mexico and Canada, the
"fictionists" forget there is a
documentary cinema, a testimonial
and essayist literature and, of
course, that relationships exist
between them. This reality is
prevalent in a continent where
such literature has a unique
historical and stylistic importance,
where many of the film productions
resort to the documentary for
obvious economic reasons.
This forgetfulness has at
least two justifications. As far as
literature is concerned, critics
usually allow inside their kingdom
only that which literary theory has
classified as: novel, story, poetry,

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Diaz: Documentary Film

drama, in other words, fiction.
Documentary cinema, on the other
hand, faces a double barrier: the
critics and the audience. Narrative
cinema can be compared to an old
experienced boxer without much
air left, who, nevertheless, recovers
from the pounding that television
gave him decades ago by resorting
to catastrophe, pornography and
even art--that is to all that TV right
now cannot do--and captures the
attention of the public, professors
and critics. Documentary cinema
meanwhile has become such a poor
relative that movie houses show it
out of obligation and to save time, to
the extent that in my childhood it
was openly branded as "filler."
Only one group of people has
contributed as passionately as its
enemy to generate documentary
cinema's situation: the filmmakers.
With only a few exceptions, they
have rendered it as artistically
insignificant as narrative film,
except that they have made it more
boring. I believe we should analyze
this problem before judging the
critics and the public too harshly.
One of the main angles for this
analysis is precisely the
relationship between the
documentary and literature. Some
comparisons with narrative cinema
could be useful. Sound films or
talkies were extremely influential
in the development of this
relationship. The critics and even
the filmmakers insisted on the
losses that this new element would
bring into narrative cinema. In
the end, sound liberated narrative
cinema from its silence while it
bound it to words, that is, to
literature. The bonds were so tight
that narrative cinema is still trying
to understand and untie them.
Nevertheless, we know that
cinema is an illegitimate child: his
mother was not literature but the
town fairs, his father was not art,

but technological development. The
documentary, with very few
exceptions, does not adapt literary
works. It does something worse: it
follows the same goals as literature,
uses its procedures and
mechanically adds it all up,
oblivious to the fact that
documentary cinema, at a larger
scale than narrative cinema, is the
Alejo Carpentier used to say
that a man of talent does what he
wants, whereas a genius does what
he can. With the appearance of
sound, and especially of synchronic
sound, documentary cinema felt
like a talented man who would say,
if he wished, what he wanted: essay,
testimonial, poetry, song,
chronicals, criticism, monographs,
and even treatise. It was just an
illusion. There came the long
soporific parliaments which
conditioned expression, extension
and, therefore, the rhythm of the
image to the needs of the literary
text. Sometimes these were
substituted by or mixed with
previously arranged and even
rehearsed interviews, where
someone narrates or explains in
front of the camera his or someone
else's life, or a complicated
production or political process
which almost never led to any
action. From the onset, words
burdened the structures of the
documentary turning it into a slow,
boring old man who constantly
needed to explain himself. In all
great works, literary elements are
present, but they are always
subordinate to the demands of the
cinematic language.
If we study the works of
Santiago Alvarez we come across
some disturbing and even
paradoxical results. For example,
we know that in literature an essay
is mainly a matter of style; in that
genre what is said is as important as
how it is said. Essayists should be
innovative in the how: for example,

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Diaz: Documentary Film
Marti, Unamuno, Ortega, Reyes.
From this perspective, Santiago
Alvarez would be a cinematic
essayist and precisely because of it,
he does not owe anything to the
literary essay. Many of his great
works, Cicdn Cerro Melado.
Hanoi, martes 13. were filmed
without sound. L.B.J. was not only
filmed without sound but only
magazine photographs and
countertype was used; Now was not
filmed at all, but was made with
various materials that the director
placed in the style of cinematic
montage. If we think about these
works we see that Santiago, who
considers himself mainly a
journalist, didn't tell us any news,
but a new way of doing, a style that
does not owe its existence to

Translated from Spanish by
Aileene Alvarez
University of Puerto Rico

Jesus Diaz:




(Editor's Note: Jesus Diaz
Rodriguez is an outstanding
Cuban writer who has
achieved prominence in Latin
American literature with his
collection of stories Los afios
durjo (awarded the Casa Las
Am6rlcas Prize in 1966) and
his novel Las iniciales de la
tierra, published in 1987.
While writing fiction, Diaz
became part of the Instituto
Cubano de Arte e Industria
Cinematogrificos (ICAIC) as a
screenwriter. He later also
directed documentaries and
feature films: 55 hermanos.
Puerto Rico (co-directed with
Fernando Perez in a joint
production with Tirabuz6n
Rojo from Puerto Rico), Polvo
Rojf and Lj&anla. In 1988 he
was awarded the best
screenwriter prize at the Clune
San Juan Film Festival with
ClaadIitimoIs directed by
Fernando Ptrez. In 1987, he
represented the ICAIC in
introducing the Cuban entry
films during the 7th
International Festival of the
New Latin American Cinema.
We recognize Jes6s Diaz's
words as a very personal
introduction to Cuban

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Diaz: Memoirs

A couple of years back, I
invented, and even dared to write, a
story about a city boy who in his
grandfather's farm, shares marvels
with a country girl. She would tell
him about spooks, headless riders
and the dafo, a kind of evil spirit
which nested in the damned souls of
the deceitful dead, in flowers and
fruits, in the animals and ravines of
that place. A place at times as
beautiful as Never-Never Land, at
others as horrible as the pits of
hell. The boy tried to tell her about
movies, but the girl did not
understand very well because she
had never been to a movie house.
The boy became exasperated while
explaining the complex world
where, among other things, there
was a Wild West and a stratosphere,
Superman and Scrooge MacDuck,
green-eyed Tony Curtis, blue-eyed
Doris Day, dark-eyed Rock Hudson
and other languages: the Spanish
which they spoke, the cartoon
language which only Toons spoke,
and English, the language of
That boy, of course, was I,
and would have branded as mad and
a liar anyone who would have dared
tell me that many years later-and
not necessarily facing Aureliano
Buendla's firing squad, but you, our
friends--I would be so nervous with
the task of inaugurating this
seminar on Cuban film within the
7th International Film Festival of
the New Latin American Cinema. It
is a festival of films that mainly
speak Spanish and Portuguese, but
which can also speak Quechua,
English, Aymara and Creole. In
other words, an inconceivable
cinema for that boy in his
grandfather's farm.
The Cuban part of this new
Latin American cinema began in
the mid-fifties, when a group of
young filmmakers, directed by Julio
Garcia Espinosa, made a

documentary entitled El migano.
It dealt with the faces, chants, work
and daily life of the charcoal
makers of the marshes. Batista's
police confiscated the documentary
and the filmmakers were jailed.
This barbaric act implied a deep
truth: a popular cinema was as
unacceptable to the social regime
with its denial of the Cuban nation
as it was indispensable for the
formation of our true self.
Therefore, when the Cuban
Revolution of 1959 creates the ICAIC
as its first cultural act, we are not
watching a performance. This is
not an act of patronage nor of
chance, but the confirmation of a
Since then a lot of celluloid
has run through screens, so much
that I can not begin to review it.
Perhaps it would be useful to offer
some information that can be used
as framework in our debate.
1) Cuban cinema is part of
Latin American cinema in the same
way that Cuba is part of a great
divided nation which begins in the
Rio Bravo and extends itself to
2) Since its creation, Cuban
cinema has been led by artists, by
specialists in the field. This has
made it possible to generate a
festive, creative atmosphere with
which we have achieved our
Caliban task: to take possession of a
foreign technique to express our
own particular world.
3) Cuban cinema has earned
the audience's acceptance without
making populist concessions,
becoming a non-subsidized, yet
profitable activity.

We know there is much to do
and believe me, this is not rhetoric;
it is an invitation to carry on a
dialogue, welcoming confrontation
and even polemics. We need a space
for debate because with your

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Diaz: Memoirs
critical help, we want to obtain part
of what we are still missing.
Anyway, we have already attained
something: every Cuban child today
knows that cinema also speaks his
Translated from Spanish by
Aileene Alvarez
University of Puerto Rico


A Morning at
the Office
Earl Lovelace's
The Dragon
Can't Dance

Steven Carter
University of Puerto Rico

Trinidad, as a society in
which many cultures have collided,
makes a number of special demands
both on the variety of people living
there and the artist who seeks to
encompass the multi-ethnic whole.
Paradoxically, West Indian
literature in general has achieved
uniqueness by combining and then
moving beyond an unusually wide
range of other traditions, and this is
certainly true of much of the
literature portraying Trinidad.
West Indian artists embracing the
whole must display exquisite
balance and perception in

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


Mittelholzer ILovelace

portraying the various conflicts
stemming from the extraordinary
diversity in cultural backgrounds.
How difficult and yet how satisfying
this task is can be seen by
examining two of the most
remarkable and ambitious novels
that have attempted it, Edgar
Mittelholzer's A Morning at the
Office and Earl Lovelace's The
Dragon Can't- Dance.
Ironically, Edgar
Mittelholzer, who captured all the
nuances of racial and social
distinctions in Trinidad during the
end of-the colonial era, was not
Trinidadian himself but rather a
Guyanese who lived in Trinidad
from 1941 to 1948. Himself the
product of Swiss-German, French,
English and Black ancestry, with a
Black-hating father who resented
his swarthy appearance,
Mittelholzer was alert to all the
subtleties of racial and cultural
prejudices. His simple yet brilliant
device for representing all the
gradations of conflict within
colonial Trinidadian society in
microcosm was the depiction of a
representative morning of an
office staff consisting of
Englishmen at the top of course,
with colored persons, Spanish
creole, French creole and
Portuguese, East Indians, Chinese
and Blacks in subordinate positions.
Moreover, several of these groups
contain members from different
social classes, thus greatly
augmenting the complexity of their
interactions. As John Figueroa
notes in his introduction to the
Heinemann edition of this book,
"Mittelholzer does not simply
recount, but makes something of
Metropolitan/Colony tensions, the
ambiguities of ethnic, class and
money constellation, which are
woven into and through, the more
personal and individual

preoccupations of a group who run
a small office" (xii).
Prejudices and
counterprejudices abound among
the office staff of Mittelholzer's
imaginary company, significantly
named Essential Products Ltd.
Everald Murrain, the Chief
Accountant and assistant manager,
is attracted to Kathleen Henery, the
accounts typist, but is reluctant to
seek an affair with her because she
is colored and he is white. She,
however, reflects that "for all she
knew, she had much better class
than he" since "most of these
English people who came out to the
colonies were of the dregs" and
"her parents and grandparents
were ladies and gentlemen" (93).
The black sweeper, Mary Barker,
"was contemptuos of all East Indians
(cheap coolies, she called them),"
and this general attitude certainly
includes the assistant accountant,
Jagabir. Recognizing her contempt
toward him and its sources, Jagabir,
who secretly fears being reduced to
the coolie status he still occupies in
her mind even though he has
successfully struggled out of it,
resents her and seeks to find fault
with her nearly flawless sweeping.
Horace Xavier, the 19 year old office
boy, is in love with Nanette
Hinckson, the secretary and chief
stenographer for the manager, but
he knows he "should have
remembered that he was only a
black boy, whereas she was a
coloured lady of good family" and
also that "he was a poor boy with
hardly any education, the son of a
cook" whereas "she was well off and
of good education and good
breeding" (9). Later, Nanette
Hinckson, reflecting on the nature
of integrity and on her own self
righteousness, chides herself
momentarily for having
"automatically" classified Horace "as
her inferior and too absurd a
candidate for a love affair with her"

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


Mittelholzer ILovelace

simply because he was black, but
then dismisses the subject (195).
William Reynolds, the colored
salesman who is aware that he has
"negro slave blood on both sides" of
his family, goes through life
"without a thought to race and class
questions," though in fact his sales
commissions were reduced because
Mr. Murrain complained that he
was earning as much as Murrain
himself and a colored man's pay
should never match a white's.
Moreover, while apart from this
one instance Reynolds really has
avoided discrimination on the basis
of color, he has faced it for being
homosexual. There are, of course,
numerous other examples of such
opposing attitudes throughout the
extraordinarily diverse office staff.
At the end, after confronting
us with multiplicity of subtle
divisions between people,
Mittelholzer indicates, as Michael
Gilkes has observed, that he regards
"the process of social emancipation
in the West Indies as dependent
upon the recognition or the black
West Indian's claim for respect as
an individual" (104). When Horace
Xavier denounces the prejudice of
everyone on the staff (a
denunciation that is almost but not
entirely justified) and walks out on
the office and his job, it seems, in
some ways, a foreshadowing of the
more vehement struggles for
independence and more potent
assertions of black power that came
later. Balancing this, however, are
the reflections of another key
character, a West Indian writer
named Arthur Lamby who, even
though he never makes a direct
appearance, is quoted with great
frequency and admiration by his
soulmate, Edna Bisnauth, the poetry
writing East Indian stenotypist.
Lamby, who regards himself as "a
regular U.N. Council" since he has
"English, French, German, Chinese

and negro blood in (him)" (77),
denounces those fellow artists who
were attempting to dig up
everything they could pertaining
to negro folklore in the West Indies:
the cumfadance, shango, the
nancy-story" and who "were
glorifying the calypso and
encouraging pimitive institutions
like the steel band" (242).
(Mittelholzer had previously
implied the primitive character of
the steel bands by having Mary
Barker's son, who is a member of a
steel band, get arrested for taking
part in a fight against another
steel.) In Lamby's view, and almost
certainly in Mittelholzer's as well,
such artists "had blinded
themselves to the fact that if the
West Indies was to evolve a culture
individually West Indian it could
only come out of the whole hotch-
potch of racial and national
elements of which the West Indies
was composed; it could not spring
only from the negro" (242).
What would this individually
West Indian culture be like, in
Mittelholzer's view? From various
indications in A Morning at the
Office it woukd be more European
than African. According to Arthur
Lamby, who, as John Figueroa has
noted, "does rather impress one as
the young alter-ego of the author"
(xiv), "it was a mistaken idea of
certain West Indian cultural groups
that West Indian literature and art
should be based on" the "primitive"
nancy-stories since "West Indians
were not primitives..../ Arthur felt
that if one had to write fairy tales at
all with a West Indian flavour the
creatures or characters in them
should be very nearly in the
European tradition, for weren't the
West Indies practically European in
manners and customs?" (238).
When Horace Xavier wants to
express his love for Nanette
Hinckson, he does so by copying

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film



out a verse from Shakespeare's As
You Like It both because it is
familiar to him from his studying
and because its words seem to
convey his own deepest feelings.
Under his shirt, he is not wearing
an obeah-inspired magical
protective amulet as some members
of the office staff momentarily
assume but rather a cross since he
is a devout Catholic and many of his
meditations and innermost feelings
are based on his religious beliefs,
Rafael Lopez, the junior accountant
whose Great-uncle Juan had
proudly related stories to him about
"the family's connections with the
former rulers of Trinidad" (227),
finds his deepest fulfillment in the
British game of cricket since "there
could be no race and class prejudice
in cricket; a superb batsman was a
superb batsman....; no one stopped
to ask what was his shade of
complexion or his position in
society;..." (232 -233). Cricket is
idealized here as a civilized,
harmony-inducing tradition
clearly in opposition to the
"primitive," conflict-producing
tradition of the steel bands.
Perhaps the most striking
example of the proclaimed
European character of West
Indians, though, is the chief clerk's
stenotypist, Olga Yen Tip:
Miss Yen Tip was a creole
Chinese who oould not speak
Chinese. Her outlook was the
outlook of a westerner. The
outlook of all British West
Indians. Like her parents,
she had been born and
brought up in Trinidad.
China was a country as
foreign to her as it was to
any English child in Surray
or American child in
Nebraska. Together with her
negro, East Indian,
Portuguese, Spanish and

coloured school companions,
she had grown up with the
Royal Reader, Gentle Jesus,
meek and mild, Sir Walter
Scott, and Drink to me
only with thine eyes.

What Olga Yen Tip speaks is
neither the King's English not a
Chinese-inflected English but
rather the Trinidadian version: "I'd
prefer to die dis minute... dan
accept a cent from dose people"
(208), "No, man, but dis is really
lovely!" (57), "Ronny and I were
sitting right in front of dem and I
heard her mother say something dat
made me nearly die wid laughing"
(58). With the exception of the
dental aspirates which Mittelholzer
notes that "most Chinese in the West
Indies" are unable to pronounce
"eight times out of ten" (207), her
speech differs only a little from
that of the East Indian Jagabir:
"What money is dis you drop?," "Ent
you is keep de broom in de lunch-
room?," and "Just what Ah tell you!
I found it on de lunch-room floor,
not far from de broom, besides!"
(72). Moreover, Jagabir's English is
not vastly different from that of
Horace Xavier who also moves
between "Ah" and "I":

Like most West Indian creoles
of fair but not good
education, Horace sometimes
pronounced his dental
aspirates, sometimes did not;
sometimes said "I", sometimes

Of course, many of the
English characters and the coloured
and East Indian characters of a
higher class speak a more formal
English, but the similarities in the
speech of these and other
characters from widely different
ethnic backgrounds implicitly
reinforce Mittelholzer's point about

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


Mittelholzer Lovelace

the basic similarity in outlook
among British West Indians and
their essentially European
character, with a slight West Indian
dash of style.
At the end, in spite of Horace
Xavier's defiant denunciation of the
office staff and his furious
resignation, several actions and
events appear to support Arthur
Lamby's belief "that men would
eventually triumph over their
hypocrisies and the ills their
hypocrisies bred" (132). First,
William Reynold announces that he
intends to help Xavier get another
job the next day and is convinced
that this will be easy since the boy
is both ambitious and talented.
Second, Nanette Hinckson who
considered herself highly superior
to Horace Xavier simply because he
was darker than she has had her
social and racial haughtiness
reduced through her brief
encounter with the colored writer
Mortimer Barnett. Comparing
herself with this man whom she
views as a kind of intellectual yet
virile giant, she feels that she has
nothing to offer someone like him
and she loses some of her exalted
opinion of herself.
Therefore, partly because
she still feels some of the force of
her powerful attraction to Barnett
and partly because she no longer
puts herself on a pedestal, she
finally accepts the offer of dinner
and the implicit proposition of
Patrick Lorry, the colored customs
clerk whom she had also been
physically attracted to but whom
she had rejected as being beneath
her. Third, Everard Murrain who,
in spite of occasional doubts, clung
to all the benefits of a relatively
high-status, high-paying position
for which the main qualification
was to be white, finds himself
brought back to life and virility,
almost like the fisher king, by his

extended intellectual discussion
with Mortimer Barnett, a discussion
which makes him aware that
Barnett is at least his equal or even
his superior even though he is
colored. Thus, after this discussion,
Murrain offers Kathleen Henery a
lift with the hint that he might at
last try to initiate the affair with
her that he had been rejecting
because she was colored. Finally,
Edna Bisnauth puts matters in
perspective by first assessing her
colleagues in the office as they had
behaved that morning as "cruel
caricatures of what (she) conceived
them to be yesterday" and then
reflecting that while "we ought to
see ourselves with ironic eyes,...we
should revere the humanity in us"
For all their blindnesses and
other failings, the characters
Mittelholzer has depicted hold our
sympathy, enlarge our
understanding and make us reflect
about ourselves and our own
blindnesses and other failings. In
spite of their many differences,
they also clearly share, as the
author has argued, both a basic
humanity and a basic European
outlook with just a dash of African,
Indian and other viewpoints.
However, the pairings at the end
hint that perhaps the final solution
to the various problems depicted
will be the mixing of all the groups
so that everyone becomes like
Arthur Lamby, a "regular
U.N.Council." Even Lamby himself
seems to be reaching out for the
one element missing in his multi-
ethnic blending through his
romantic choice of an East Indian.
At first glance, Earl
Lovelace's The Dragon Can't
DanMe appears to be just the sort of
work that Arthur Lamby and
Mittelholzer denounced as the
product of a mistaken idea and
faddism. In the opening section of

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


Mittelholzer fLovelace

his novel, Lovelace, a native of
Trinidad, glorifies the steelband and
the calypso as high cultural
achievements and sources of
community strength. "The
Prologue" informs us that Carnival
is what "springs" Calvary Hill, the
home of the largely black,
oppressed community that the
novel focuses on, "alive" (11) and
during this yearly fete "the
steelband tent will become a
cathedral, and these young men
(the steel drum players) priests"
(12). A little later in the book
Lovelace will even raise to mythical
stature the conflicts between steel
bands that had so appalled
Mittelholzer, making the steelband
warriors appear to be larger than
life figures like Achilles and
Ulysses. Calypsos are viewed as the
pace setters and value bearers of
the culture in that they "announce
in this season the new rythms for
people to walk in" and enable "these
enduring people" to "walk with a
tall hot beauty between the garbage
and dog shit"(13). These views of
both the steel bands and the
calypsos will eventually be modified
and place in a more complex
perspective. For example, the
fights between the steelbands,
while demonstrating the full heroic
measure of the warriors and
allowing them to sharpen their
skills, will be shown to be
misdirected, aimed at fellow victims
instead of their common oppressor.
Similarly, Lovelace shows that
calypsos may be used to gain
celebrity status through macho
bragging or to support a personal
vendetta and the status quo as well
as to attack social injustice and push
for much needed social change.
However, none of the modifications
and qualifications seriously affect
the strongly favorable impression
which these traditional musical
(and combative) forms continue to

make throughout the book or imply
that they are anything less than
fundamental to their culture.
Though obvious taking
great pride in Afro-Caribbean
culture as well as centering his
narrative on characters who are
immersed in it, Lovelace too, like
Mittelholzer, reveals an acute
awareness of the whole "hodge-
podge" of cultures and the
desirability of constructing a
distinctively Caribbean culture out
of all of them. While he doesn't
depict directly more than a fraction
of the range of social, national and
racial types that Mittelholzer does,
Lovelace subtly and skillfully
suggests this range through a
handful of characters and
The conflict between colored
and black, for example, is shown
through Miss Cleothilda, a mulatto
woman who has become the self-
appointed queen of Calvary Hill,
even though she has little more
money or possession than the other
people on the hill and her loudly
proclaimed beauty is fading fast.
Throughout the year she affirms a
strong distinction between herself
with her supposed gentility and
superiority and the others and only
at Carnival does she put on
friendliness like a seasonal coat and
proclaim "all o' we is one"(19).
Class distinctions are
suggested by the other supposedly
superior person on Calvary Hill, Mr.
Guy, the rent collector, who has
just a little more money than the
others. Even though Sylvia, the
young princess of beauty and spirit
on the hill, prefers Aldrick
Prospect, the kingly Carnival
dragon and an "aristocrat" in the
tradition of "Idleness, Laziness, and
Waste" as weapons of resistance to
oppression (11), she turns to Guy
because he can provide her with a
costume for the Carnival.
Ironically, the costume that she

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


Mittelholzerl Lovelace

wants is that of a slave girl, though
choosing this particular costume is
a form of resistance like Aldrick's
since it keeps an awareness of the
past and its influence on the
present alive. However, Guy,
perhaps willfully misreading her,
responds to the literal meaning of
the costume and seeks to own her.
Philo, the Calypsonian who strives
to retain much of the spirit of
Calvary Hill when his success leads
him to move to the wealthy enclave
Diego Martin, observes that "only
Guy of all the men would be brazen
enough and rash and blind as not to
see, not to realize that her very
desirability placed her above
ordinary desiring....and to believe
that all the men had pulled back
from her just so he could have her"
(214). At the end, when Guy
becomes a City Councillor and
finally gains enough money and
influence to move to Diego Martin,
Philo realizes that he is big enough
at last to pose a real threat to
Sylvia's spirit "simply because he
was blind and unfeeling to
anything that did not bring in
money"(216). However, by then
Sylvia has sufficient strength and
wisdom along with enough spirit
left to leave Guy and go chasing
after Aldrick who has just been
released from prison and finally
come to a realization of his
unselfish love for her.
Whites make almost no direct
appearance in the novel, but do
they really need to? Only the
willfully unaware, the pseudo
innocent, the blind can lay claim to
a lack of knowledge of the role
whites played in holding down and
exploiting blacks during the
colonial period and how they
continue to pull financial and
political strings of black "rulers" in
the neo-colonial present. The
blacks, mulattos and East Indians
living in garbage and dog shit on

Calvary Hill are in this situation
largely because of what whites and
some blacks have done in Trinidad.
This is implied in the novel when
Fisheye, the Bad John who seeks to
move beyond his personal war with
society to a larger, more
meaningful rebellion, notes that
after the victory of the PNM, the
independence party he thought
shared his most basic values, "white
people were still in the banks and
in the businesses along Frederick
Street" and that "the radio still
spoke with a Brtsih voice" (66).
There is, moreover, a brief but
significant reference to the white
bands that start to invade Carnival
once sponsors have bought the soul
of the black steel bands and drained
them of their fighting spirit.
Fisheye, seeking to keep the last
flicker of fighting spirit alive,
views the existence of the white
steel bands and the refusal of black
steel band members to attack them
as the ultimate desecration of the
spirit of Carnival which had its
roots in African ritual and began in
Trinidad as an act of rebellion, and
his outrage drives him to wilder and
ever more self-destrutive behavior.
As in A Morning at the
Office, conflicts between blacks
and East Indians are also emphasized.
Ironically, Pariag and his wife
Dolly, the only East Indians to move
to Calvary Hill, come with the
intentions of going beyond their
ethnic background an its
limitations and embracing a wider
world only to find themselves
excluded by the insularity of the
blacks who refuse to see them as
individuals. When, after fruitlessly
waiting for some sign of
recognition from them for two
years, Pariag saves money in secret
to buy a bicycle to attract their
attention, he finds that he has
haplessly violated their values and

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


Mittelholzer lLovelace

sensibilities and is viewed as more
of an outsider than ever. Miss
Cleothilda and Mr. Guy, who have
asserted their higher status over
the others on the hill by virtue of
their own small measure of extra
property, lead the chorus of
condemnation over Pariag having
dared to accumulate this small
property. In making this
condemnation, moreover, they don't
judge him as an individual like
themselves, but as a foreigner; they
assert that it is part of his sneaky
East Indian character to hoard the
money for the bicycle and spring it
on everyone out of the blue and
they express the fear that he will
eventually take over the whole hill.
Given his strong emphasis
throughout on the greatness and
life-sustaining force of Afro-
Caribbean tradition, it seems highly
significant that Lovelace chooses to
present his most basic ideas about
the West Indian cultural hotch-
potch through his East Indian
character. Taking up Mittelholzer's
challenge about what West Indian
culture should become, given the
multiplicity of its sources, Lovelace
indicates through the meditations
and observations of Pariag his own,
rather different answer
concerning how the multicultural
fabric might be wove and what
would be necessary to make it hold
together. Paradoxically, what is
needed most, in Lovelace's view, is a
recognition and respect for
diversity in culture and
individuality and each artist's
fiercely dedicated effort to remain
true to the whole of his or her
unique personal experience and
background. Pariag, who had
originally tried to gain acceptance
by the blacks in the steelband yard
near him through imitating them
and trying to fit in with their
patterns, finally has to admit that

this course of action has been a
complete failure. He then reflects:

I wish I did walk with a flute
or a sitar, and walk in there
in the middle of the steelband
yard where they was making
them new drums, new
sounds, a new music from
rubbish tins and bits of steel
and oil drums, bending the
iron over fire, chiselling out
new notes. New Notes. I wish
I would go in there where
they was making their life
anew in fire, with chisel and
hammer, and sit down with
my sitar on my knee and say:
Fellars, this is me, Pariag
from New Lands. Gimme the
key! Gimme the Do Re ML...
Gimme the beat, lemme
beat!... And let his music cry
too, and join in the crying.
Let it scream too. Let it sing
'bout Dolly in the old
ramshackle house in
Tabaquite, with the smell of
green grass and cow dung,
let it laugh with Seenath,
Bali and Ramjohn playing all
fours, ... And he smiled,
thinking of Miss Cleothilda
and her All o' we is one. No.
We didn't have to melt into
one. I would be me for my
own self. A beginning. A
self to go in the world with,
with something in my hands
to give. We didn't have to
melt into one. They would
see me (210).

In discussing this with his
wife Dolly, Pariag learns that the
insights he had gained concerning
how to deal with ethnic differences
and the need to fully expose his
individuality also apply to sexual
differences. Dolly shyly and
quietly makes it clear to him that
just as he showed only part of
himself to the blacks in the

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film



steelband yard, the part that he
wanted them to see and respond to,
she only showed part of herself to
him in all their years of marriage.
Instead of beating his breast with
macho pride and berating her for
her denial of part of herself in
their relationship, he listens to her
attentively and thinks about the
parallel between the way he has
behaved and what she has revealed.
His heartening response is "We
have to start to live, Dolly, you and
me," a sign of both his sensitivity
and openness toward change that
makes her look at him "with a kind
of astonishment and respect" (212).
What all this indicates is
that Lovelace strongly disagrees
with Mittelholzer's argument about
the virtual disappearance of
African and Indian cultural
retentions in Trinidad and that his
version of West Indian culture
formed out of the whole hotch
potch gives much more weight to
these elements and places much less
emphasis on the English and other
European elements. In this context,
it is significant that the language
he uses for third person narration
throughout is a lyrical, exuberant
blend of formal English and
African-influenced Trinidadian
English, as in the opening passage:

This is the hill tall above the
city where Taffy, a man who
say he is Christ, put himself
up on a cross one burning
midday and say to his
followers: "Crucify me!...."
And when they start to stone
him in truth he get vex and
start to cuss: ... This is the
hill, Calvary Hill, where the
sun set on starvation and rise
on potholed roads, ... and if
you want to pass from your
yard to the road you have to
be a high-jumper to jump
over the gutter full up with

dirty water, and hold your
nose. Is noise whole day (9).

This daring and intoxicating
mixture of the formal and the
colloquial can be found in every
narrative passage and demonstrates
his keen and loving awareness of
the role both forms of English have
had in his life and art.
Mittelholzer's position with
its emphasis on the basically
European (and primarily British)
character of West Indians and on
sexual amalgamation of the races
seems roughly equivalent (without
the sexual emphasis) to the once
widespread goal of making the
United States a melting pot and the
Trinidadian version of this
expressed in the phrase "all o' we is
one." In contrast, Lovelace's
position with its insistence on
taking pride in one's ethnic
background ( particularly the
African and Indian ones) and
retaining one's individuality while
becoming part of an all-embracing
whole is close to the currently
favored metaphor of the salad bowl.
Most West Indians today (like most
modern Americans) would, if asked
to state their implicit choice
between these views, probably
decide in favor of Lovelace and
declare Mittelholzer's stance old-
fashioned and no longer tenable.
However, whether his solution is
acceptable or not, Mittelholzer has
perhaps made the most far
reaching and complex depiction of
the problem. Also, as Lovelace has
pointed out so beautifully much of
the failure in West Indian social
thought and action (and the rest of
the world's as well) springs form
the inability to hold in mind "two
contradictory ideas" (164 ) or, to put
it a somewhat different way, two
opposing truths at the same time.
At the very least, we must realize
consciously and simultaneously
(without comfortably dismissing

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


Mittelholzer ILovelace

either or both of these obvious
truths as simple-minded cliches)
that we are like other people and
different from them, and we must
make a powerful effort never to
lose sight of either realization even
when emphasizing one of them for
whatever political, social or artistic
Through these two books we
have seen Mittelholzer and
Lovelace themselves as well as the
complexity of West Indian culture
and the problems facing the West
Indian artist in portraying and
developing it-- and our view of
society, culture and life itself have
been enriched thereby.

Works Cited
Chang, Victor L "Edgar
Mittelholzer." In Fifty Caribbean
Writers, ed. Daryl Cumber Dance.
New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.
Dance, Daryl Cumber. "Earl
Lovelace." In Fifty Caribbean
Writers, ed. Daryl Cumber Dance.
New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.
Lovelace, Earl. The Dragon Can't
Dance. London: Longman, 1981.
Mittelhozer, Edgar. A Morning at
the Office. London: Heinemann,




to the


Puerto Rican


in New York

Lillian Jim6nez
El Museo del Barrio
New York, New York

While it has not been widely
known, the first Puerto Rican
migrants to the U.S. during and
after WWI, were deeply concerned
with their depiction in the media.
By creating a wide network of civic,
cultural and political organizations,
these pioneros organized against
all forms of discrimination
including the media. In 1940,
Scribner's Commentator ran an
article entitled "Welcome Paupers
and Crime: Puerto Rico's Shocking
Gift to the U.S.," which was met with
rebuttals and mass meetings from
40 Puerto Rican organizations,
including the Asociaci6n de
Escritores y Periodistas
Puertorriquelos. During the
intensive industrialization of
Puerto Rico through the Operation
Bootstrap policies (late 40s and mid
50s), hundreds of thousands of
Puerto Ricans migrated to the
United States in search of economic
possibilities. They settled in large
metropolitan areas on the East Coast

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Jim6nez: PR Cinema in NY

like New York, New Jersey and
Connecticut, but unlike other
immigrants, Puerto Ricans arrived
as citizens and anticipated benefits
from that legal status. Racially
mixed, they were more tolerant of
behavior and relationships deemed
inappropriate in race conscious
United States. Confronted by abject
discrimination in spite of their
citizenship and because of their
racial mixture, they developed a
survival strategy relying on the
existing infrastructure of home
town clubs, civic associations and
political clubs.
The third generation of
Puerto Ricans who reached their
late teens during the volatile and
empowering Civil Rights
Movement, affirmed their cultural
and political identity with the
emergence of new community and
political organizations in New York.
Having weathered the full fury of
institutional racism, theirs was the
strategy of direct confrontation.
The Young Lords, The Puerto Rican
Student Union, the Movimiento
Pro Independencia, the Comit6
M.I.N.P., Resistencia
Puertorriquefla, just to name a
few, were engaged in re-creating
the Puerto Rican community using
as role models Puerto Rican labor
figures like Luisa Capetillo and
Juana Col6n; Nationalist leaders like
Pedro Albizu Campos and Lolita
Lebr6n, and international leaders
like Che Guevara. They were
involved in local, national and
international issues. This
generation picked up the camera in
spite of and in defense of the ones
they loved.
As "cultural workers," artists
of all disciplines collaborated to
create new images of Puerto Ricans
through the visual arts with the
development of organizations such
as Taller Boricua and through
the poetry of figures such as Pedro

Pietri and Sandra Maria Estdvez.
Film and video images created by
Puerto Ricans that represented the
history, culture and daily reality of
the majority of Puerto Ricans were
In 1972 Realidades, a local
television series on WNET/Channel
13, was created through community
pressure. It provided the focus and
center for Puerto Rican
involvement in the broadcast
industry and later in the
independent film and video field.
The Puerto Rican Education and
Action Media Council was created in
1972 to protest negative depictions
of Puerto Ricans and advocate for
the increased employment of Puerto
Ricans within the industry. Joined
by pioneer filmmaker Jos6 Garcia,
they successfully pressured WNET,
by taking over the studio during an
evening pledge, to establish
Realidades with discretionary
station money. Retaining its local
focus for two years, several
important cultural and public
affairs documentaries were
produced and acquired, including
Angelitos negros, an in-studio
dance piece about a baquin6, the
African-based burial ritual of a
young child; Towards a
Collective Expression, the first
documentary by Marcos Dimas
about the philosophy and work of
Taller Boricua, the visual arts
group he co-founded; and Los
NaciQnalilstas a documentary that
recaptured the history of Don Pedro
Albizu Campos and the Nationalist
Party of Puerto Rico.
During this period,
Reandades served as one of the
principle creative magnets within
the Puerto Rican community,
attracting artists from different
disciplines to collaborate and
brainstorm on a myriad of projects.
However, a precarious funding
base, uneven programming
schedule and internal problems

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caused the Realidades series to
end in 1975.
The earliest wave of Puerto
Rican filmmaking concentrated in
the documentary format because of
its relative low cost, accessibility
and efficacy in representing the
conditions under which the
majority of Puerto Ricans lived.
Profiles of three Puerto Rican
documentarians illustrate the
motivation and problems faced by
these independent producers.
Carlos De Jes6s started out as
a photographer until German
television asked him to direct a film
on housing in New York. This
collaboration spawned his first
film, The Devil Is a Condition
(1972), a celebration of Latinos and
Blacks fighting to improve their
housing conditions throughout the
city. Made with a cache of liberated
film, a borrowed camera, editing
facilities and lab processing
provided by German television, and
an otherwise no-money budget, it
was presented at the Whitney
Museum and garnered awards at
festivals in Paris. Lacking personal
resources and requiring an
institutional base, he helped found
ImAgenes at New Jersey Public
Television and went on to make The
Picnic (1976), a celebration and
sharing of cultural values between
Puerto Rican inmates and their
families in a New Jersey prison.
Bienvenida Matias received
formal training in film production
at La Escuela Oficial de
Cinematografla in Madrid, Spain.
On her return to the United States,
she worked at Young Filmmakers
Foundation, a film resource center
in the Lower East Side that provided
free equipment to independent
filmmakers. Lacking experience
and knowledge about funding for
film, Beni collaborated with Marci
Reaven and made In the Heart of

Loisaida (1979), a black and white
documentary about early housing
take-overs in the Lower East Side of
New York by their Latino tenants.
Pedro Rivera, together with
Susan Zeig, Jaime Barrios and the
Centro de Estudios
Puertorriqueflos (Hunter
College) embarked on the
production of a historical
compilation film about the impact
of Operation Bootstrap on Puerto
Rico. Continuing his collaboration
with the Centro and Zeig, he
completed Plena Is Work. Plena
Is Song (1989), a documentary
about working-class Puerto Rican
culture expressed through the
African-based music and singing of
In addition to these three
documentarians, who without
personal financial resources and
experience made their mark on
Puerto Rican film and video on the
East Coast, there were a number of
other filmmakers on the scene
dealing with issues of labor
organizing, Latino music and the
political status of the Island. What
Could you Do with a Nickel
(1981), a documentary film about
Black and Latino domestic workers
forming a union in the South Bronx
was co-produced by the author of
this article; Carlos Ortiz completed
Machito: A Latin Jazz Legacy
(1986), a documentary film about
Frank "Machito" Grillo, the Cuban
jazz composer and bandleader;
Zydnia Nazario directed The Battle
of Vieques (1986), a documentary
about naval maneuvers on the
island of Vieques off the coast of
Puerto Rico.
These documentarians were
committed to illustrating the
history, social issues and culture of
Puerto Ricans so long ignored by
the dominant social institutions.
They were groping for a form of
expression that would lend itself to
the realistic depiction of the

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complex strategies of survival
developed by the Puerto Ricans in
the midst of abject racism and
poverty. While some of these films
suffered from low production
values as people struggled with the
language of the form, limited
funding and lack of experience,
they more than made up for their
limitations by their passionate
quest for a validating image.
Possessed with an insider's
knowledge of the culture and an
unswerving need to express
themselves and create celluloid
images that were more reflective of
the myriad experiences of Puerto
Ricans in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Their overriding contribution was
to defy conventional assumptions
and assert that Puerto Ricans should
occupy the center of cinematic
While the documentary form
has its advantages, it also has its
limitations. A maker could only
work with the material retrieved
from the field--if subjects did not
speak about a given point, then
they were forced to rely on the
narrator. Hence, most of the
aforementioned films utilized
narration to a greater or lesser
degree. Eschewing the ebb and
flow of the interview and talking
heads format, a small group of
makers chose the narrative form to
visualize their stories about Puerto
Rican experiences. The films, for
the most part, expressed the subtle
and complex fabric of the
internalization of racism.
Pablo Figueroa, for example,
directed his first narrative piece,
We.Together, for NBC in 1974
about the dilemma of a fifteen-
year-old girl who is compelled to
take the reigns of the family. The
film presented the interweaving
nature of the family, its centrality
in Puerto Rican culture and its

dissolution in the face of economic
and psychological hardship.
Deciding to work outside the
television format with its inherent
formulaic limitations, Figueroa
embarked on independently
making Cristina PagAn (1976), a
short narrative about a young
mother who accepts the death of
her child through spiritualism.
Luis Soto and Angela Fontafiez made
Reflections of Our Past (1979), a
short drama that featured young
people traveling back in history to
discover their history and culture
under a state education contract.
Soto established his own production
company making promotional films
and commercials and became the
first Puerto Rican to direct a film
for the PBS dramatic series,
American Playhouse. His The
House of Ram6n Iglesias (1986),
a feature-length film adapted from
a play about an educated Puerto
Rican man who reconciles his
love/hate relationship with his
janitor father. In 1987, Maria
Norman, directed The Sun and
the Moon, a narrative feature film
about a Puerto Rican woman's
personal odyssey into her identity.
The most prolific filmmaker
to emerge during the late 70s was
Edin V61lez. While he experimented
with video synthesizers for a while,
his first piece to receive attention
was Tule: the Kuna Indians
(1978), a representational
documentary about the Kuna
Indians of the San Blis Islands off
Panama. His later work, Meta
Mavan II (1981), was a visceral
and evocative personal essay of his
trip to Guatemala. He does not want
to become "pigeonholed as the
Puerto Rican making Latino tapes,"
so he has made documentaries on
Japan and the United States without
dealing with Latinos.
Missing from the
compendium of Puerto Rican
filmmakers are several

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Jim6nez: PR Cinema in NY

important non-Puerto Rican
contributors. Cuban-born and
Puerto Rican-raised filmmaker Ana
Maria Garcia made La operaci6n
(1982), about the massive
sterilization abuse of Puerto Rican
women, and has just completed
Cocolos v rockeros, a
documentary about how race and
class are played out through culture
in Puerto Rico. Diego Echevarria, a
Chilean-born and Puerto Rican-
raised filmmaker directed two
independently produced
documentaries: "Puerto Rico: A
Colony the American Way"
(1981), a short film about the
political status of Puerto Rico, and
Los Sures (1984), a beautifully
crafted film about Williamsburg, a
Puerto Rican community in
Brooklyn, New York. Alfonso
Beatto, a Brazilian cinematographer
based in New York during the late
70s and early 80s directed Paradise
Invaded (1977), a documentary
film about the colonization of
Puerto Rico in collaboration with
Jos6 Garcia and other Puerto Rican
filmmakers. Los dos mundos de
Angelita (1978), a feature-length
film about the dissolution of a
Puerto Rican family after its arrival
in New York, was directed by Jayne
Morrison, from New York with a
screenplay by a Puerto Rican. It
featured an all Puerto Rican cast
and many Puerto Rican/Latino
crew members.
National and cultural
affirmation occupied the center of
these cinematic propositions as film
and video makers struggled to
represent and legitimize the
history, conditions and cultural
development of their communities
in the United States. Puerto Rican
cinema has grown from its infancy
to toddlerhood with little guidance
and parental direction. It has
emerged and developed in spite of

the structural obstacles inherent in
denying "voice" within this society.
As more makers gain experience
and mastery over the forms of their
choosing, they will use the medium
with more precision, sophistication,
flair and experimentation. There is
still a striking need for Puerto
Rican and Latino makers to produce
and direct films and videotapes
about a multiplicity of issues and
concerns. Some of these concerns
are directly linked to the status and
conditions of the Puerto Rican and
Latino communities in the U.S., yet
it would be a grave loss if the
makers limit themselves or are
limited by cultural institutions and
its gatekeepers to just those themes.
As we live in a complex and
changing world, our special place
within the margins allows us to
interpret American culture and
society in a unique way. We can
contribute to the contemporary
cultural discourse by producing
filmic texts that present the
complexity, innovative and myriad
experiences of our survival in an
often hostile terrain. Our
contributions can be to deconstruct
and reconstruct the assumptions of
this society by presenting other
perspectives that are more
dialectical in embracing the
contradictory nature of life and its
dynamic movement.
These films and videotapes
are our testament to survival. They
forced us to look at ourselves, to step
outside of our condition and
objectify our reality, to deconstruct
and then visually reconstruct it
with a new vision and power
extracted from that painful process.
They allowed us to reflect on
ourselves--the films were our
passageway into ourselves. As
makers, we were tormented by lack
of opportunity, experience and
resources. As spectators, we liked
what we saw; sometimes we didn't.
Many times we disagreed with the

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Jim6nez: PR Cinema in NY
interpretation, but we could never
deny that we were engaged in a
life-death dialogue about our
existence. Those films and
videotapes gave us strength. They
fed us collectively.
Those films and videotapes
came out of a movement for voice.
We require films that celebrate our
emerging cultural forms that are
born of a new mestizaje, the
reality of Latino (Caribbean,
Central and Latin American) and
African American, Afro Caribbean
shared experiences. And films that
celebrate the new form of
resistance--the overt and covert
forms that they take through song,
language and organizations. We
need a media that represents the
best of mestizaje--a melange of
our human experience with its
complexity, beauty and insight.

(This essay is an edited version of
an article which appeared in
Centre, the bulletin of the Centro
de Estudios Puertorriqueftos,
Vol. II, No. 8 (Spring 1990): 29-43
and is included here with the
author's permission.)

Can't We All
Be Marilyn?:



of the





Diane Accaria
University of Puerto Rico

The cranking sounds and
enveloping flickers of shadow and
light with which the cinema
projected reality magically,
revealed a wonderfully new form of
narrative expression and forged a
new generation of writers
throughout Latin America. The
cinematic imagination touched
writers as diverse and as
revolutionary as Jorge Luis Borges,
Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel Garcia
Mirquez, and the Puerto Rican
writer, Luis Rafael Sanchez. His
novel La guaracha del Macho
Camacho (translated into English
by Gregory Rabassa under the title
Macho Camacho's Beat).
published in 1976, is a brilliant
contribution to the experimental
Latin American novel. As professor

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Accaria: Macho Camacho's Beat

and critic Jos6 Juan Beauchamp has
pointed out, this is a novel where
the technique of film montage,
camera-angles, and powerful
image-making, are evident and
arrayed amidst references to other
mass media, such as radio, TV, and
pop magazines (96). Yet, as we
leave its structure and its
imaginative use of language aside,
we also see how strongly movies
offered Sanchez theme as well. His
theme of decadence and alienation
in Puerto Rican society, conveyed
throughout the interaction (or
inter-non-action) of an array of
unforgettable characters, is most
emphasized in two female figures:
Graciela AlcAntara y L6pez de
Montefrio and La China Hereje
(who is also The Mother). These two
characters, intoxicated with the
myth of the cinema, believe
wholeheartedly in the magic, and
beauty, and dreams offered by the
many films they have seen. And
unknowingly, they hide the sadness
of their own reality beneath the
thin veils of movie reality.
At the opening of Mach&
Camacho's Beat we are warned of
the "flattering success" of Macho
Camacho's guaracha "Life is a
Phenomenal Thing" according to
prominent disc-jockeys and
announcers. "La vida es una cosa
fenomenal. Lo mismo pal do alante
que pal do atras" (3) ("Life is a
phenomenal thing, frontwards or
backwards, however you swing") is
the first refrain of this pop tune
which has swept Puerto Rico and is
multiplied to infinity by the blare
of radios, televisions, and record
players. Its beat permeates the
whole novel and propels us through
San Juan on a hot afternoon, at 5
PM, on an ordinary Wednesday.
Four levels of narrative action are
simultaneously described: Vicente, a
pro-American senator is caught in

a gargantuan traffic jam on his way
to a steamy-sex meeting with his
mulatto mistress; his very white,
very aristocratic wife, Graciela,
who, sick of waiting for him, now
waits for her session with a
psychiatrist; his right-wing
aphasic son is sitting in the same
traffic jam roaring his loving
Ferrari; and his mistress, La China,
waits for El Viejo (the Old Man) to
arrive, so she can return to her
world, a poorer world, which she
inhabits with an idiot child, her
three stud cousins, and her friend
Dofa Chon. Everyone waits in this
novel. All action is as stagnant as
the traffic jam described, and all
levels of communication are broken
down to idiocy. What makes
everyone survive? Their dreams
do. Dreams manufactured and
nurtured by the media. Everyone
waits for his or her moment, for his
or her promised dream to come true.
And, of course, no one's dream does.
We see then three prevailing levels
of cinematic influence in the novel:
a structural level in the narrative
expression, consisting of cleverly
and sprightly edited frames webbed
in counterpoint with the
guaracha's beat; a thematic level
intended to shock and premonish;
and a metacinematic level, as we
have the distinct feeling of reading
through a graphic media whose
subjects (and the society they
convey) are not merely responding
to media influence, but exist only so
that they can live-up-to their roles
in the mediatized Puerto Rican
society. This meta-cinematic level
prompts us to further consider
internal symmetries between the
novel and the world of cinema. Our
best chance is to look for the myths
characterizing cinematography
and, sure enough, the myths are
there in the novel. Particularly
that ever-prevailing myth of the
sex-goddess and the anti-sex-

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Accaria: Macho Camacho's Beat

goddess, polar opposites brought
together by the guaracha beat. La
China and Graciela live-up-to each
of these media-created roles
As pointed out by critic Maria
Cristina Rodriguez, the senator's
wife, and his lover, respond to two
contrasting levels of Puerto Rican
Graciela belongs to that small
but privileged sector of the
population who profit from
the island's economic system,
and China belongs to the
forgotten majority who are
either unemployed or
receive the lowest wages in
the salary scale. SAnchez
presents in this novel the
lifestyle of two women
enclosed within their social
class group. (247)

They also contrast each other
sexually: Graciela is typically
inhibited in her sexuality while La
China is extremely loose, to say the
least. So inhibited is Graciela that
some critics have agreed in finding
her portrayal too caricaturesque in
her stiffness and artificiality.
(Rodriguez, 249) Yes, Graciela is too
uppity and snobbish and uptight
for her own good while La China is
vibrant, alive and sensuaL Yet I
must disagree with Rodriguez when
she concludes that Graciela "has
been educated to screen...publicity"
within the media while La China
has not. (251) Graciela's role as a
woman does respond to the moral
and social conventions of her class
as does La China's. But she is as
much a victim of the media as La
China, and unhappier for it as well.
She is, above all, the quivering
anti-sex-goddess, a role well learned
from the movies she relentlessly
keeps within her sweet memory.
We find her referring to the

cinema for "definitions" as she tries
to convey her fears of an "autumn
pregnancy" to her psychiatrist
(who she has equated with Omar
Shariff and Rossano Brazzi). For
Graciela, pregnancy and sex can
only be related to the world of tear-
jerking romance and white-rosed
weddings as beautifully conveyed
by the cinema:

La palabra otofial le hipoteca
la memorial con bizcochos de
a dos pisos y crestas de
cupidos saltones y figuritas
amerengadas...Falsisimo, la
palabra otofal le trae
memoriones de pellculas en
blanco y negro de la c6mica
pelirroja que fue suegra de
Liza Minelli, no, de Bette
Davis encinta de Gary- Cooper
o encinta de Bogart, Bette
Davis encinta de Clark Gable
y vestida con batitas de
estamena y una cola que le
daba la vuelta al cine Riviera
y saquitos de pop corn. (167)

Graciela is the sacrificial lamb of
the sexual repression expected of
women of her class. She has
devotedly swallowed the notion of
"Daddy's good clean girl" so much a
part of the cinematic machinery of
the fifties. Alongside the well-
known vamp, the white nymphic
Cinderella type of heroine has
always stood, shocked and dismayed,
suffering and fragile. In Popcorn
Venus, film critic Marjorie Rosen
has described the role Graciela, as
well as a million other women of
her social class, have followed:

A dirty-joke ideal, she
reflected the double standard
which dichotomized sexual
and marital expectations.
The paper-thin wisp of a
gamine--all that was

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Accaria: Macho Camacho's Beat

wholesome, clean, and
domestic incarnate--existed,
however, as the goddess's
polar opposite. (302)

Graicela is the little rich girl nice
boys do marry, then leave home
while they roam with the bad girls
who will commit themselves to the
men's little dirty pleasures. She
must escape from the crude world of
tropical heat and overt sexuality,
and so "Suiza, nevada y pura"
offers shelter for a time in her life
when everything was easy and life
was not to be faced. She eventually
marries her Prince Charming and
responds to her role as every decent
woman is expected to. She loves her
husband, yet she shuns his sexual
innuendos. If sex seems important
to almost everyone in this novel, to
Graciela, it is the curse to bear as a
cross for the sake of childbirth.
She represses her desires as
passionately as La China exhibits
hers. Compare each woman's
response to sexual desire:

Ademis, su esposo y ella no.
Tiempisimo....Ademis, yo no
soy la case de selora para la
que eso es inportante.... Yo
soy demasiado sefora y como
selora trato eso con su cuota
de asquito, me siento aliviada
cuando mi esposo se duerme
sin acudir a la lnsinuaci6n
minima do eso.... Eao me
pareci6 siempre barato.
Barato no. Bajo. Bajo no.
Rebejado. Rebajado no.
Arrastrado. Arratrado e
infernal las voices que
orientan la sangre
desvestida, pecado eso, uyyyy:
como si tuvieran mierda en el
zapato, ganas de escupir por
tanto asco. (168-169)

Can one possibly inagine the
freckled Doris Day, or Audrey
Hepburn, or any of the many
nymph's of Hollywood chastity
actually enjoying sex? Now let's
tune into La China's memory of an
unforgettable night with her three

Desglose selective del cerebro
que ella hace de sus primos
de La Cantera con los que
tiene un ajuste quincenal de
aquello: secuencia de los tres
macharranes...: camisas
mamitoescas, gafas
ahumadas, cabeza ladeada.
Corte. Secuencia do tres
macharranes tendidos en una
cama cubierta con colcha de
motitas.... Secuencia del
macharrin mayor en
escalada ever6stica de la
autora del cerebro. Corte....
Toma abrasante del
macharran mayor mientras
part en dos gajos el conduct
membranoso y fibroso que se
extiende desde la vulva hasta
la matrix de la autora del
cerebro. Corte. Toma
panoramica de cuerpos en
convulsi6n culminante:
interns especial en el frotado
de los vientres: ombligo con
ombligo: asl se chicha. (143-

La China's heroine is Iris
Chac6n, a red-headed sex
bombshell, the voluptuous goddess
of TV and B-films in the tropics and
significantly, she enjoys having
sex with her cousins under that
nude calendar Mary in Monroe
once posed for. Graciela, on the
other hand, responds only to a
white-washed world and she coos
and woes over pictures of Liz and
Richard's house in Puerto Vallarta
and follows Jackie Kennedy's life

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Accaria: Macho Camacho's Beat

with green envy. As she awaits
her therapy session that hot
afternoon at 5pm, thumbing
through a Time magazine where
she encounters her heroines of
power and eternal beauty, her
existential crisis comes in a surging

Graciela edita orgasmos
indditos, Graciela edita
calorizos uterinos,
Graciela edita secreciones
mucosas: la Princesita
Jacqueline en traje de comer
napitas fritas, la Princesita
Jacqueline en traje de dar
limosnas a los pobres, la
Princesita Jacqueline en
traje de quitarse el
Tampax...Graciela Alcintara y
L6pez de Montefrlo picada y
picada de placer tira al aire el
TIME, bota al aire el TIME
chills dolida, chill chill
chillada: eso es vivir, eso es
vivir, Graciela Alcantara y
L6pez de Montefrfo da saltos
de mona en celo o saltos
monos, da saltos de gorila en
celo o saltos gorilos, eso es
vivir, eso es vivir. Resumido:
el amor propio se le hace
confetti. (162-163)

And a few paragraphs later:

Graciela AlcAntara y L6pez de
Montefrlo parte en dos su
salto orangutinico ciento
doce para preguntar: Doctor,
4por qu6 Liz sl y yo no? 4por
qu6 Jacqueline si y yo no?

Daddy's nice little rich girl was led
to believe in white-lace and sexless
heroines and chic ladies, only to
find her reality entrapped wihin
tragic loneliness and her self-
esteem shattered to pieces. For if

Jackie represented chic for
womanhood and became, as Majorie
Rosen points out: "our Utopian
Matron reflecting the nation's
moral tone, a conservative
cosmopolitanism" we must
remember Marilyn was around and
also envied. President Kennedy
once proudly recounted amid global
ardor: "I am the man who
accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to
Paris." But Graciela forgot, or
refused to face the fact that if
Kennedy indeed married nice little
rich Jackie, he roamed out many a
night with the vibrant Marilyn.
And so, living up to her role, these
nights Jackie slept alone. And so
does Graciela. As Norman Mailer
has said:

Marilyn suggested sex might
be difficult and dangerous
with others, but ice cream
with her. If your taste
combined with her taste, how
nice, how sweet would be that
tender dream of flesh there
to share....Sex was, yes, ice
cream to her. "Take me,"
said her smile. "I'm easy. I'm
happy. I'm an angel of sex,
you bet." (15)

La China Hereje's complexity
as a character is signified in the
novel by her dual role as vamp and
as mother. She is never given a
real name, each role takes over to
signify her identity. It can be
argued that each of these roles
manifests the two sides of life
within the novel--the vamp
conveying the dream world which
hides the sadness of a reality
stricken with maternal tragedy.
(79) Yet, the behavior which each
of these roles requires is heavily
fueled by the imagery of movies
and TV. At the very beginning of
the novel, La China is described, as
she sits waiting for her lover,
heart-shaped mouth, very Marilyn-

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Accaria: Macho Camacho's Beat

like, sexy, easy, ice cream:

Si se vuelven ahora,
recatadas la vuelta y la
mirada, la veran esperar
sentada, una calma
atravesandola. Cara de
ausente tiene, cara de viveme
y t6came, las piernas
cruzadas en cruz....Cuerpo de
desconcierto tiene cuerpo de
ay deja eso, Zven?, cuerpo
que ella sienta, tiende y
amontona en un sofl....(13)

The role of sex-goddess comes to her
quite easily as she models herself
after the media-heroines of her
choice. And she is also "a grande
dame" of motherhood as we are told
how well she knows what is
expected of her under this title:

La Madre sabe muchas
canciones de las madres, La
Madre sabe muchos
pasodobles de las madres, La
Madre sabe muchos tangos de
las madres. La Madre ha visto
much cine mejicano. La
Madre es punto fijo del Cine
Matienzo, del cine New
President. La Madre mima al
Nene: Mama mia, Mama mia,
b6same b6same, todos los dias:
Sara Garcia, Libertad
Lamarque, Mona Marti,
Amparo Rivelles. (174-175)

Yet, both these roles as
romantically modeled by the media,
come to a clash against her harsh
reality for while she in fact is a
mother, she has been abandoned by
her husband and her child is a mal-
formed idiot and the only way she
can feed herself and her child is by
selling her body as a "sex-goddess."
However, she remains happy--
always dancing to the tune of
Macho Camacho's "Life is a

phenomenal thing...." because she
knows that the real road to
fulfillment is not to BE but to

A un relojito en el que viven
dos rubles fingidos que le
envi6 su marido desde el
note: ... a ella le soplaron
que su marido vivia
en un basement con una
chicana pero a ella todo plin.
Psss. Otra mirada tierna a los
rubles que, a fin de cuentas,
no son rubles pero que bien
imitan rubies, bien que dan
un palo, material sint6tico y
qu6: lo que imports es que
aparenten: su fe es la
apariencia, su religion es la
apariencia, su slogan vital es
la apariencia: el destino es un
fandango y quien no
aparenta es un pendango.

The mud which suffocates her real
world is ignored as she remains
happily alienated from the truth of,
not only her situation, but that of
the poor abandoned stratum of the
society she lives in (104-05). Sex is
easy and nice but it can offer
survival in the crudest sense. La
China, having been born pretty in
an impoverished world, learns
early in life that she can "save"
herself with her body. For this is a
world which appreciates pretty
faces in voluptuous bodies. Movies
have taught us that. Significantly,
La China's monthly arrangement
with her cousins, where she
exchanges sex and happiness for
their "performance' and money, is
done under the eyes and mythical
body of Marilyn Monroe, and the
passage is recalled cinematically as
we saw earlier:

Y, que cowa, mira tu por

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Accaria: Macho Camacho's Beat

donde...hago el cerebro del
siglo con mis primos de La
Cantera con los que tengo un
ajuste quincenal de aquello:
...del placer refrendada por el
calendario para el que posara
la Monroe cuando no era la
Monroe: la falda levantada
por un golpe de viento que
sube de una alcantarrilla, Llo
ban visto?, calendario
solicitado por Joe DiMaggio
para efectuar un acto public
de fogatil exorcismo, dicen
que contrat6 el Yankee
Stadium: pero nadie se
deshizo del trampolin de sus
fantasias masturbantes.

There are two important incidents
within Marilyn Monroe's life
referred to here. The first alludes
to those famous nude calendar shots
of Marilyn when she posed for
photographer Tom Kelley, "when
she wasn't Marilyn," back in 1949.
Kelley remembered the experience
as "extraordinary in its intensity."
The photographer said, "I can tell
you this. Marilyn Monroe has more
sexual vibrations than any woman I
ever shot." She signed the release
Mona Monroe, was paid fifty dollars
which she needed for an
installment on her car, and treated
it thereafter as a buried episode.
(81) Only, it doesn't remain buried,
for in the height of her career they
come back to haunt her and help
destroy her happiness with jealous
Joe DiMaggio who loves her for
what she really Is and insists on
restraining her image as "sex-
goddess." The second incident
alluded to is Monroe's famous shot
for the film The Seven Year Itch
where her dress goes up as she
sensually stands over a subway
grill. It is known that this was the
last drop for DiMaggio as he decides

to leave her. (124) Even though he
loves Norma Jean, he can't love
Marilyn. So the filmic myth drowns
the real woman. As writer
Guillermo Cabrera Infante has said:

Dicen que en la vida real es
much mAs linda que en el
cine y mis simpatica y
much, much mis ficil. Ese
es el mito: Marilyn Monroe,
la de la vida real, no existe, la
que existe es esa sombra que
se le parece tanto en el cine.

Movies have always exorcised
humanity from sexuality. A most
telling reflection of the inner wars
a "sex-goddess" must wage remains
in Rita Hayworth's confession to
her friend and script-writer
Virginia Van Upp. She worried
terribly about her impending
marriage to Prince Aly Khan and
when asked why, she bitterly said:
"Because you wrote 'Gilda,' and
every man I've known has fallen in
love with Gilda and awakened with
me."(227) To a degree, Marilyn and
Rita lived the same duality La China
lives with as the dream collapses
into unrequited love or "bought"
sex instead of the sublime
happiness that is promised within
the myth. La China believes
desperately in her dream of one day
becoming a movie-queen, a dancing
bomb-shell to whom life will come
easy. But she, like "Marilyn when
she wasn't Marilyn," has payments
to make:

Cuesti6n de unos pagar6s y el
linolium y el jueguito de
comedor que lo quiere de
cromium.... No es que vaya a
pasarse la vida con El Viejo,
El Viejo le produce nausea.
Pero El viejo le remite el
chequecito verde de las
esperanzas (201).

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Accaria: Macho Camacho's Beat

Her dreams remain attached to the
vulgarity and dirt which surrounds
her real world:

Ella pensaba que te pensaba
que te piensa: irme de artist
con el nombre de La
Langosta, y hacerme
famossssa y dar opinionessss
y firmar aut6grafosss; pero
tengo que mejorar la letra....
para pagarme la ropa de
vedet tendr6 que tirarme
unos machos en La
Marina.... No tendria que
abrir las patas si Dofia Chon
tuviera. Pero Dofa Chon es
una derrota igual que yo.
Cara de ausente tiene y
cuerpo de desconcierto. (207)

At times, she leaves her
indifference to face the truth and
the spiritual death to which she is
submitted. To emphasize this
"death", Luis Rafael Sanchez alludes
to Garcia MArquez's famous words in
100 Years of Solitude:

Muchos afios despu6s, porque
muchos le parecian frente al
pelot6n de fusilamiento y no
otra cosa era la aceptaci6a de
que El Viejo la poseyera....

Again, money and motherhood
collide, close to the end of the novel,
when La China, the "vamp," is
finally revealed as the "Mother',
and dances to "Life is a phenomenal
thing" while she admits that she
needs money above all, and dofia
Chon pronounces "Por los chavos
baila el mono" ("A monkey
dances for dough"; 244). It is
precisely here, immediately
following this passage, that the
novelist places the culminating
scene where La China's child has
seen his own monstrosity in a

mirror and runs out in horror to be
killed by that red-roaring Ferrari,
at 5 p.m., exactly at 5 p.m., that
Wednesday afternoon.
Dolas Chon's words of wisdom:
"La vida es un lio de ropa
sucia" ("Life is a bundle of dirty
clothes"), counterpoints the media's
luring lie: "La vida es una cosa
fenomenal...." or "...la vida es una
nena bien guasona que se mima en
un fabuloso Cadillac" ("Life is a nice
chubby chick spoiling herself in a
Cadillac trick"; 256). The real truth,
which is underlined in Doina Chon's
words, is that neither Graciela nor
La China are merely "chicks" who
spoil themselves "in a Cadillac
trick." No, they can't be the
mythical Marilyn nor can they be
Jackie for life is real and hard and
dirty no matter how wholeheartedly
you digest the lie. They, like us,
have been cheated by the lie (11-
12). Sanchez particularly
emphasizes how well the lie works
in this tropical paradise--for we,
this small island in the Caribbean,
sold and packaged as a fun-filled,
swinging paradise--is full of never-
ending problems which "media-
made" politicians never commit
themselves to. Everyone (senator,
wife, mistress, son) waits in Puerto
Rico. We sit, in front of our TV, or
in our car which never moves, or
wait on a movie-line, dancing to the
tune of whatever song which is at
the moment the equivalent to
Macho Camacho's Beat, enveloped in
the lie, trying very hard not to face
the Apocalyptic vision which ends
Luis Rafael's novel. Significantly,
as Benny's Ferrari tramples the
monstrous child, he is not, nor are
we, ever faced with the scene head
on. Sanchez wittily constructs this
scene in Hitchcockian fashion. One
sees the horrified faces which tell
about the hideousness of the act, but
one never faces the act itself. No
matter how swooning the

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Accaria: Macho Camacho's Beat

guaracha's beat might be, or how
sweet the Arcadian dreams, their
luring lie will sooner or later
collide with the monstruosity of our
own reality.
1. See Jost Juan Beauchamp,
"La guaracha del Macho Camacho:
lectura political y visi6n de mundo",
Revista de Estudios Hisnanicos.
5 (1978), 91-128. See p.96.
2. Luis Rafael Sinchez, La
guaracha del Macho Camacho
(Buenos Aires: Ediciones de la Flor,
1976), p.3. Page number will follow
text hereafter. At times, I will edit
passages which prove too long so as
to prove a point without becoming
3. The passages I quote in
English are from: Luis Rafael
SAnchez, Macho Camacho's Beat.
trans. Gregory Rabassa (New York:
Pantheon Books, 1980). Page
number will follow text hereafter.
4. Maria Cristina Rodriguez,
"Poor-Black, Rich-White: Women in
La guaracha del Macho
Camacho", Studies in Afro-
Hispanic Literature. II-1II
(1978-79), 244-254. See p.247.
5. See Rodriguez, p. 249.
6. Ibid., p. 251. The publicity
Rodriguez refers to which she
defines as "...launched by the mass
media" is a "...publicity geared
towards the enjoyment of individual
pleasures, thus obscuring the
collective problems of the
7. Marjorie Rosen, Pocorn
Venus: Women. Movies and the
American Dream (New York:
Avon Books, 1973), p. 302.
8. Rosen, p.319.
9. Ibid., p.319.
10. Norman Mailer,
Marilyn: A Biogranhv (New
York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1972),

11. Critic Luis M. Arrigoitia
sees La China's dual role as a key to
Puerto Rican reality in his essay
"Una novela escrita en
Puertorriqueflo", Revista de
Estudios Hisplnicos, 5 (1978),71-
89. He writes: "Es el 6nico
personaje que tiene dos juegos de
manos en la ronda de la lectura: es
amante prostituida y es madre
frustada. Ambici6n y sexo,
maternidad y frustraci6n encarnan
y apuntan hacia el n6cleo tematico
de la novela toda: Puerto Rico. Y
todo eso bajo la mayor
indiferencia." See p. 79.
12. Critic Jose Beauchamp
has rightly concluded the
following: "Las llagas del cuerpo
social, las cuales muestran su mayor
desnudez en la inscripci6n misma
del lenguaje mas que en la
descripci6n detallada de ellas,
described un mundo
profundamente alienado, reducido a
la vacuidad social y mental, al
'relajo', mas adn al sexo
obsesivamente como un objeto
degradado en mercancia." See pp.
13. See Mailer, p. 81.
14. Ibid., p. 124.
15. Guillermo Cabrera
Infante, Arcadia todas las
noches (Barcelona: Seix Barral,
1978), p. 72.
16. See Rosen, p.227.
17. Critic Angel Luis Morales
reaches a similar conclusion in his
essay "Consideraciones de La
guaracha del Macho Camacho",
in Revista de Estudios
Hispankam. 5: 7-25. He shows how
each character responds to a
different media hero or heroine
and how the media offers lies and
false images as it is a powerful tool
of collective alienation. See pp.11-

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

From Brasil:

Orlando Senna

in Puerto Rico

The acclaimed Brazilian
screenwriter and filmmaker
Orlando Senna came to Puerto Rico
in 1989 sponsored by the
Fundaci6n Puertorriquefla del
Nuevo Cine to offer a
screenwriting workshop. From
Bahia, Senna is currently the
director of the Escuela
International de Cine y
Television in San Antonio de los
Bahos, Cuba. He is the author of
several books (Aires nunca antes
navegados and MAquinas
erAticas, a well-known
screenwriter, a documentary
filmmaker (Festa, Bahia BienaD
and a feature filmmaker (Gitirana,
Diamante bruto) who has been
widely recognized through his best
known film, racema. He has
worked with other Latin American
filmmakers such as Ruy Guerra,
H6ctor Babenco, and Santiago
He commented on his
experience in the workshop he
directed: "In two weeks we were
able to establish a collective work of
14 short scripts. It was extremely
helpful for me because I polished
my methodology with them and
because I learned about Puerto Rico.
This was not work but a gift I
thoroughly enjoyed." Some of the
participants were the actress Elia
Enid Cadilla, journalists Fl61ix
Jimenez and Luis Fernando Coss,
filmmakers Ana Maria Garcia, Lydia
Milagros Gonzilez, Poli Marichal,

Ram6n Almod6var, and Kino Garcia,
and film critic Jos6 M. Umpierre.
What follows is a reflection
on that workshop.

on the Film
in a
Country without a
Film Industry

Jos6 M. Umpierre
Universidad de Puerto Rico
Medical Sciences Campus
No hay caldo de gallina
sin gallina.
There can be no chicken
broth without chicken.
--Orlando Senna
Reduced to the simplest
terms, the world of cinema is
divided into the haves and have
nots: the countries that have film
industries and those that do not.
This fundamental difference
underlines the difficulties of
turning a a screenplay into a film.
Movies made in countries that do
not have film industries are
definitely the exception and not the
Unlike the literary text
which is written to be read, turning
a screenplay into a successful film
requires a different and more costly
technological apparatus and
distribution system. If the script
has such a slim chance of being
transformed into images, and if the
creative process of writing seems to
be an exercise in futility, why
pursue futility? Why work on a
moviescript in a country without a
film industry?

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Umpierre: Reflections

Orlando Senna might answer
that the absence of vital images of
the collective self is a form of
underdevelopment. Thus, socio-
economic restrictions tend to invite
invisibility or the absence of
cultural identity. We need images
of what and who we are and what
and who we have been through the
ages. For that reason, the best
argument for writing a filmscript
in an underdeveloped country is
precisely to overcome our
acceptance of underdevelopment.
Scriptwriting is an essential
and the most economical part of
filmmaking. The idea, the
knowledge of form and structure, a
sense of drama and suspense, and
the ability to foresee images--like
telling stories to a blind person, as
Senna would say--are free of
market values and the need of the
industry's technological apparatus.
Furthermore, Orlando Senna is very
clear concerning the structural
antecedents of the script: a good
story establishes a clear relation
between the cause and the effect. It
captures the imagination of the
spectator. The classical structure
includes: inertia, rupture, conflict,
climax, and resolution. All stories
are told through the problems faced
by the characters; plot is developed
through obstacles, how and when
do they occur and how they are
solved. The creative process begins
with that idea that presents itself as
an image or that situation that calls
for imagistic elaboration.
Once the storytelling
function is established, it has to be
transcoded into the visual,
cinematic narrative of film.
But why write a script in a country
without a film industry? Perhaps
because films do continue to be
made--sometimes through great
personal hardship--in countries,
like Puerto Rico, without film
industries; or because we need

images of ourselves to understand
what and who we are, were, and can
be; or because artists can search out
new ideas and alternatives rather
than being dictated to by an
"industry"; or because new
technologies such as video are
changing the notion of what film
can be in cultures that have never
had film industries; or perhaps
because our passion to make films,
in spite of the difficulties, cannot
be subdued.

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film





Yolanda Margarita P6rez
.Escuela de Comunicaci6n
Universidad de Puerto Rico

Las tres escenas a
continuaci6n pertenecen a un
gui6n de media hora para
television, con un format de
pelicula para television. El
gui6n, original de una
estudiante de la Escuela de
Comunicaci6n POblica de la
Universidad de Puerto Rico,
explore el tema del
hostigamiento sexual en el
Este gui6n forma parte
de los ejercicios del curso
"Guiones para radio,
television y cine" que ofrece
el professor Jos6 A. Rivera en
dicha Escuela.


(El restaurant es pequefto
pero elegant. Se ven personas
comiendo y hablando. Lisandra y
Marisela sentadas a la mesa. Ambas
tienen una bebida frente a ellas.)

(C6mo vas con los dibujos de la
nueva campafia publicitaria?


Todo va a la perfecci6n; el client
qued6 encantado con el diseho del
empaque y con los dibujos de la
promoci6n. Las largas horas de
trabajo valieron la pena. Estoy muy


Sin embargo, a juzgar por tu cara
no estis muy feliz... qu6 te sucede?


Lisandra, ,qu6 opinas de Pedro


LQud tiene que ver 61 en esto...? ,No
me vas a decir que...?


Estas muy equivocada amiga,
lamento decepcionarte pero no es lo
que estis pensando.


iClaro, ya decla yo! Eres demasiado
inteligente como para cometer
semejante tonteria. Imaginate,
tener un "affair" con ese hombr6n.
Casado, con hijos y ademis es tu jefe.
i maginate el escindalo que se
armaria en la oficina! Pero, Lqu6 es
lo que sucede entonces?


Tu que Ilevas mis tiempo trabajando
en la oficina debes conocerlo mejor.
LQu6 opinas de 61?


SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

P6rez: Guidn


Bueno, Zqu6 puedo decirte? Es el
hombre con el que toda mujer
suefia...todas en la oficina dicen que
es muy guapo e inteligente. A
penas tiene 36 afios y es un
ejecutivo exitoso, tiene dinero y es
muy professional en el desempeflo de
su trabajo...En fin, el prototipo del
esposo ideal.


IPor Dios, Lisandra! ZNo me digas
que a6n tienes esa idea absurd de
que el estado ideal de la mujer es el
matrimonio?...Perdona, es mi
opini6n y no puedo pretender que
pienses igual que yo...cada uno
tiene sus prioridades.


Si, si, si, pero no vinimos a hablar
de ml. LQu6 es lo que ocurre con
Pedro Arizmendi?


No se, hay algo en 61 que me
incomoda. Su forma de mirar me
exaspera, es como si...tocara todo mi
cuerpo con sus ojos.


iAy Mariselal iSon cosas tuyas! Todos
los hombres son asi. Eres muy
bonita, es natural que te mire.


INo es que me mire, es c6mo me


Perdona que te diga esto, pero..q.no
crees que tu vestimenta tenga algo
que ver?...El hombre es hombre en
donde quiera...


El hombre es hombre y la mujer es
mujer, Zy eso qu6 tiene? Ya es
tiempo de que los hombres
entiendan que uno esth en ese lugar
como compafiera de trabajo y no
buscando hombres. ,C6mo es
possible que pienses asi?


Bueno, pero ademas de miradas, ,te
ha dicho algo mas?


Ha hecho algunas insinuaciones
disfrazadas de piropos inocentes,
pero no le he dado la oportunidad de
hacer nada mis, aunque...


iQu6l LAcaso ha intentado?


No te alarmes, Lisandra. Fue que
una vez me roz6 mientras me dirigia
a la oficina y me hizo pensar mal.


,Y qu6 vas a hacer al respect?


No s6, no quiero precipitarme, Ilevo
tan poco tiempo trabajando en la


Y estan encantados con tu trabajo.
Todos hablan much acerca de tu
talent y profesionalismo. No creo
que debes arriesgar todo lo que has
conseguido por algo que puede ser
solo una visi6n prejuiciada. Total,
tal vez lo que 61 quiere es hacerte
sentir a gusto en la agencia.

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

P6rez: Gui6n


Es por eso que te pregunto; tal vez
no lo conzoco bien y lo estoy
juzgando mal.


Yo creo que lo que te sucede es que
estas tensa por tus multiples
responsabilidades. Todos comentan
que eres la persona que mejor ha
dirigido el departamento creative
desde que la compaAia se estableci6.


A prop6sito, Lisandra, ,que ocurri6
con la joven que ocupaba mi


Ella parecia ser una joven muy
competent. No s6, aparentemente
no termin6 unos disefios a tiempo y
el sefor Arizmendi la despidi6.


(mirando su reloj) Marisela,
debemos irnos. Es casi la una de la






Buenas tardes, Marisela. Pens6 que
pasarias por mi oficina en estos
dias...tienes que decirme
algo... trecuerdas?


No, no me he olvidado.
Precisamente pensaba pasar por su
oficina esta misma tarde.


Sabia que eras una chica
inteligente y que harias lo
correcto...no te arrepentirls...


iClaro que iba a hacer lo correct,
mi conciencia y autoestima jams
me permitirian hacer otra cosa! Es
por eso que radiqu6 una denuncia
por hostigamiento en el Centro de
Denuncias de la Fiscalla de San
Juan. Un official le harh Ilegar el
citatorio en esta semana.


iNo sabes a lo que te exponest El
Ilevar esto a los tribunales implica
que tendras que testificar y vaciar
muchas intimidades; se te cerrarAn
las puertas de muchos empleos
porque te veran como
problem4tica...Seras t6 la
perjudicada y no te creeran pues no
tienes pruebas...


LAcaso no se recuerda de Mayra
Rojas? Ella esti de mi parte y se
decidi6 a atestiguar en su contra.

(Pedro Arizmendi se queda pAlido al
escuchar el nombre y se desploma
en la silla.)

Estoy muy consciente de lo que
puede acarrear esta decision de
formular cargos y s6 que serA un
process arduo pero le aseguro que
no sera peor que seguir soportando
su est6pido juego del poder.
AdemAs, estoy segura de que mi caso
servira de ejemplo a muchas otras
mujeres que se ven acorraladas dia

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

P6rez: Gui6n

a dia por sus jefes...El juego termin6,
Pedro Arizmendi...





(Se abre la puerta y entran
Lisandra y Jorge)


Y bien, ,qu6 tiene que decirnos la
nueva ejecutiva de cuentas de esta


Tengo que decir que no puedo


ZY por qu6 no? Has trabajado much
para conseguir ese puesto...te lo


Pensar que todo fue tan dificil
cuando comenc6 en esta
empresa....Estuve a punto de darme
por vencida...


Pero no lo hiciste, por eso estas


No habria podido hacerlo de no ser
por el apoyo que ustedes me

(Marisela se ve un poco melanc61ica
al recorder.)


Bueno, no es moment de recorder
cosas desagradables ....El pasado ya
qued6 atris; es moment de celebrar
tu 6xito.


A prop6sito, eso me recuerda que
mamA prepar6 una pequefia cena
para ml esta noche y me pidi6 que
los invitara.


La relaci6n con tu madre ha
mejorado much.


Si, ha entendido que soy un adulto y
que pienso diferente a ella y sobre
todo que eso no quiere decir que no
la quiera. Esta muy orgullosa de mi


Y no es la (nica persona que se
siente muy orgullosa de ti. Bueno,
entonces te paso a recoger a las 7:30.
Hasta entonces.

(Jorge sale de la oficina de


LY c6mo van las cosas entire


Todo va viento en popa...luego te doy


IClaro, estoy loca por saber!

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Perez: Gui6n Cine

La verdad es que mi vida march
bien, muy bien. y

(Marisela se acerca a la ventana y
mira hacia adelante sonriendo.)

Rebeca ChAvez
Realizadora del ICAIC
La Habana, Cuba

Al hablar del nacimiento y
desarrollo del cine cubano tenemos
necesariamente que hablar del
vinculo entire cine y Revoluci6n.
Esta uni6n es notable desde El
mgano, el documental filmado por
Alfredo Guevara, Julio Garcia
Espinosa, Pepe Massip, Tomhs
Guti6rrez Alea y Hadju en la
segunda mitad de los cincuenta, que
es considerado el antecedente
hist6rico del cine cubano. Esta
pelicula, que narra las condiciones
de vida de los carboneros de una
zona al sur de Bataban6, provincia
de La Habana, fue censurada
inmediatamente por la tirania de
MAs tarde, al triunfar la
Revoluci6n, la primera acci6n
concrete que se tom6 en el campo de
la cultural fue la creaci6n del
Institute Cubano del Arte e
Industria Cinematogrificos, el 24 de
marzo de 1959. Los cineastas
cubanos recuerdan a Fidel, Camilo,
Rail y Ch6. Los recuerdan
apareciendo a cualquier hora a las
improvisadas salas de proyecci6n
del naciente ICAIC. Los recuerdan
porque ellos gestionaron y lograron
los cr6ditos necesarios para los
primeros filmes; y los recuerdan
porque ellos apoyaron e impulsaron
a los cineastas cubanos en su
empefio por lograr una intense
relaci6n con el p6blico y hacer del

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

ChAvez: Cine y Revoluci6n

hecho cinematografico un acto
cultural vivo, actuante y un arma de
combat. Los documentales
realizados en esa dpoca y el primer
largometraje de ficci6n Historias
de la Revoluci6n, realizado por
Tomas Guti6rrez Alea, confirmarian
las premises artisticas y political
que se trazaba el cine cubano.
Casi inmediatamente despu6s
de producirse la invasion de Playa
Gir6n en abril de 1961, y de
anunciarse el caracter socialist de
la Revoluci6n cubana, aparecia en
las pantallas el noticiero Muerte
a invasor, dando cuenta de
aquellos" sucesos. En el terreno
cultural se empez6 desde ese
instant a desarrollar una linea de
trabajo que se planteaba rescatar la
historic, recoger la 6pica de todo un
pueblo y former un piblico que
durante d6cadas habia estado
recibiendo de forma indiscriminada
la avalanche de la cultural
norteamericana. Muerte al
invasor fue algo mis que el film
que registr6 el triunfo de la
Revoluci6n en Bahia de Cochinos.
Fue, esencialmente, la
determinaci6n de reafirmar en el
cine la urgent necesidad de
producer obras intensamente
ligadas al quehacer revolucionario
y de posibilitar el encuentro del
pfiblico con lo mejor de las
cinematografias del mundo.
En esa misma 6poca, el equipo
de Cine M6vil ICAIC llev6 la pelicula
Modern Times de Charlie Chaplin,
a un rec6ndito lugar de la Sierra
Cristal en el norte de la antigua
provincia de Oriente. Aqui ocurri6
algo singular: por primera vez un
grupo de campesinos de todas las
edades vio cine. Esta experiencia se
repetla a lo largo y ancho de la isla.
El director Octavio Cortizar
film6 la llegada del cine a Sierra
Cristal. Por primera vez, el
documental que narra aquella

experiencia conserve, ain hoy, la
frescura y la ingenuidad de aquel
encuentro. La capacidad de
emoci6n que el filme provoca
confirm su maestria. El encuentro
de aquella noche de los campesinos
con Chaplin afirm6 una victoria
sobre la ignorancia y el
Otro important aspect en la
formaci6n del cine cubano es el
representado por Santiago Alvarez
y su trabajo con el noticiero. Fue 61
quien lo convirti6 en un arma y en
una escuela. Nacido como una
continuidad de los noticieros
tradicionales, poco a poco, en la
media en que Santiago va
aduefiandose del lenguaje, su
noticiero empieza a romper
esquemas. Cada semana va
elaborindose delante de los ojos de
miles de espectadores esta
transformaci6n. Primero las
asociaciones por la via del montaje,
despuds la vinculaci6n de una
noticia con otra, y finalmente la
banda sonora. Una edici6n, la
dedicada a Benny More, fue la que
marc6 el viraje definitive. Ya
estamos en presencia de una obra
artistic inagotable en su
experimentaci6n, pero madura.
No. realizado en 1965, junto
con Y el cielo fue tornado por
asalto en el 1972, son dos de los
ejemplos mis elocuentes y acabados
de la extensa obra de Santiago. Now
narra la segregaci6n racial y la
represi6n contra los negros en los
Estados Unidos. Una economic de
medios visuals y una canci6n
interpretada por Lena Home
bastaron para que este creador nos
diera un ejemplo de unidad entire
creaci6n artistic y posici6n
political. Me dijo una vez: "El cine
que aspiro a hacer es aqul1 que no
sea solo para ser visto y oido sino
para ser pensado."
Tres filmes del afio 1968
marcaron de manera singular a la

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Chavez: Cine y Revoluci6n

cinematografia cubana. El
documental de largometraje 1868-
1968, realizado por Bernab6
HernAndez, concebido como un
homenaje a los cien aflos de lucha
del pueblo cubano, se convirti6 en
un filme de obligada referencia.
Por una parte, logra sefialar los
moments fundamentals y claves
de la historic cubana utilizando al
miximo los recursos expresivos del
cine. En otro sentido, el documental
de Bernabd confirm la madurez
alcanzada en el tratamiento de la
historic en el cine cubano. La
historic, su interpretaci6n, muchas
veces -su reinterpretaci6n y siempre
la revelaci6n de la linea de
continuidad entire el siglo XIX y los
acontecimientos del XX
constituyeron objetivos de trabajo
de no pocos cineastas. La primera
carga del machete, Gir6n. La
odisea del general jos6.
Rancheador, La fltima cena, El
otro Francisco, Cecilia son
algunos titulos realizados a partir
del afto 68 donde lo hist6rico es
abordado desde distintos Angulos y
donde cada creador intent un
camino para expresar este discurso.
Con Memorias del.
subdesarrollo, de TomAs Guti6rrez
Alea, la mayoria de edad del cine
cubano fue conquistada.
Refiriendose al uso del documental
y la ficci6n en su pellcula, Guti6rrez
Alea explica:

La inclusion en el filme de
imagenes documentales que
alternan con las imagenes
propiamente de ficci6n nos
permit ampliar
considerablemente el Ambito
de relaciones en que
transcurren los sucesivos
moments del protagonista.
Pero lo mas important es
que la relaci6n entire el
mundo subjetivo del

protagonista y el mundo
objetivo en que esti insertado
recorre diversos niveles de
aproximaci6n a la realidad.
Se trata de la misma realidad
que el espectador ha dejado
atrAs momentaneamente y
este recorrido facility su
regreso a la misma cargado
de inquietudes y con un
grado mas alto de
informaci6n e incluso de
comprensi6n. Las imAgenes
documentales contribuyen a
ubicar el conflict en su
marco social e hist6rico y
llegan al espectador por
distintos caminos.

Ese mismo afio fue estrenado
el filme Lucia, de Humberto SolAs.
Antes de esta pelicula, solo habia
dirigido tres o cuatro cortos donde
estaba de manera muy marcada la
experimentaci6n. La verdadera
presentaci6n de SolAs ocurri6 con el
mediometraje de ficci6n Manuela.
A partir de 6ste y con Lucia, el
cineasta inici6 una temitica que
tendria a la mujer como eje y centro
catalizador de los conflicts
abordados. Lucia es el punto
culminante del conjunto de filmes
concebidos como homenaje al inicio
de las luchas independentistas
cubanas. Las tres histories
narradas en el filme no solo estan
ralizadas de forma brillante sino
que ademAs logran una sintesis de
moments cruciales de la historic

(Tornado de Arelto, vol. 10, no. 37,
con el permiso de la autora.)

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

La Crisis


el Cine en


Los cineastas cubanos
Francisco Pufial Suarez, director del
Departamento de Noticias del ICAIC,
y Jose Padr6n, realizador del ICAIC,
han establecido un intercambio de
informaci6n y materials
audiovisuales con la Profesora
Lilliana Cotto, del Departamento de
Ciencias Sociales de la Facultad de
Studios Generales, de la
Universidad de Puerto Rico. Sobre
c6mo la crisis econ6mica tan grave
en Cuba ha afectado la producci6n
de cine, Puflal Suarez sefiala que ha
desaparecido el Noticiero ICAIC y los
documentales critics que abordan
temas de la realidad. La producci6n
general ha decrecido y solo se estin
haciendo co-producciones donde
Cuba presta sus servicios t6cnicos,
localizaciones, actors y servicios
profesionales, a cambio del
presupuesto necesario para hacer
un largometraje. El mejor ejemplo
de esto es la co-producci6n
francesa/cubana, El siglo de las
liucs, del novelist cubano Alejo
Carpentier, dirigido por Humberto
SolAs, cuyo largometraje de ficci6n,
Lucia, de 1968, lanz6 al cine cubano
al Ambito mundial.
De 1991 al 1992, Cuba puso
todo su esfuerzo en la producci6n de
una comedia que recibi6 elogios
dondequiera que se present.
Adorables mentiras de Gerardo
Chijona reune excelentes actors
cubanos, j6venes y veterans, en
una historic que hace reir con su
humor negro y su critical social.





Cuban Cinema

Cuban filmmakers, Francisco
Pufial Suarez, director of ICAIC's
News Department, and Jose Padr6n,
an ICAIC director, have established
a news and audiovisual materials
exchange with Prof. Lilliana Cotto
from the Social Science Department,
College of General Studies, at the
Universidad de Puerto Rico. Pufial
Suarez comments on how the
present economic crisis has
affected film production: the ICAIC
newsreel and the documentaries on
everyday affairs have disappeared.
General film production has
decreased and only co-productions
are made. In these film enterprises,
Cuba is responsible for technical
services, locations, actors and
professional services in exchange
for the budget needed to make a
feature film. The best example of
this new collaboration is the
French/Cuban co-production, El
siglo de las luces, based on Alejo
Carpentier's novel, and directed by
Humberto SolAs, whose first feature
film, Lucia (1968), made the film
world take notice of Cuban
From 1991 to 1992, the ICAIC
used its resources to produce the
comedy Adorables mentiras,
which received a very warm
reception by critics and public, and
also earned several prestigious
awards for its director, Gerardo
Chijona. It is a story that appeals to
all audiences for its black humor

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

La crisis econ6mico

A pesar de la crisis econ6mica que
ha afectado a todos los sectors de la
sociedad cubana, se celebr6 el XIV
Festival Internacional del Nuevo
Cine Latinoamericano, bajo la
direcci6n de Alfredo Guevara.
Fueron menos dias que en
anteriores festivales, menos
peliculas cubanas, pero cont6 con el
apoyo del pfiblico cubano que asistia
a las presentaciones, de los
invitados al Festival como Danielle
Mitterand, primera dama de
Francia, y Agnes Varda, la
reconocida realizadora francesa, de
critics, compateros artists y
visitantes amantes del cine.
Pufial Suarez envi6 una series
de guiones de documentales cubanos
estrenados en el Festival pasado.
Entre estos hemos seleccionado
Hasta la reina Isabel bail el
danz6n de Luis Felipe Bernaza, una
entrevista a una santera que
supuestamente encarna el espiritu
de la reina espafiola, Isabel la
cat61ica. Transcribimos aqui este
gui6n, recordando las palabras de
solidaridad del compafero Pufial

OjalA el prbximo gobierno
norteamericano levante el
bloqueo y podamos respirar
un nuevo aire; ojal& el
liderazgo politico de este pals
sea inteligente para seguir
adelante. De cualquier
manera, siempre estaremos
agradecidos a gente como
ustedes, prestos a darnos una
mano, y tambien su coraz6n.
(diciembre 1992)

Note: If you wish to
participate in this exchange
with Cuban filmmakers, please
contact Prof. Lilliana Cotto at
the Universidad de Puerto
Rico: 809-764-0000,
extension 2170.

The Economic Crisis

and social criticism, and which is
able to blend the talent of young
and veteran actors in a plot that
moves as fast as its dialogue.
In spite of the economic crisis that
has affected all levels of Cuban
society, the International Film
Festival of the New Latin American
Cinema was held for the 14th
consecutive year in Havana, under
the direction of Alfredo Guevara.
This time around the Festival lasted
only ten days and there were only a
handful of Cuban film productions,
but it had the total and enthusiastic
support of the Cuban public who
filled every single seat in theatres
throughout the city. Special guests,
Danielle Mitterand, France's First
Lady, and Agnes Varda, the known
French filmmaker, were here to
show their support, alongside
critics, fellow artists and film lovers
from Europe, North America and
Latin America.
Pufial Suarez sent a number
of screenplays of Cuban
documentaries presented in the
Festival. Among these we have
selected Hasta la reina Isabel
balla el danz6n by Luis Felipe
Bernaza. It is a short interview of a
santera who supposedly embodies
the spirit of Queen Isabella from
Spain. We publish the screenplay,
keeping in mind Pufial SuArez's
words of solidarity:

I hope that the next North
American government ends
the economic blockade and
we can again breathe some
air; I hope the leaders of my
country use all their
intelligence to go forward.
Either way we will always be
grateful to people like you,
always ready to give us a
hand and also their heart.
(December 1992)

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film







Rollo Uno

Cartel: "A la memorial del padre
F1elix Varela, que atin no ha sido
canonizado, a pesar de haber hecho
en vida el mAs hermoso de los
milagros: Ensefiar a pensar a todo
un pueblo."

Marta: Aqui te habla de un cambio,
positive, con triunfo en tu trabajo...
Consultant: Ese cambio que usted
me dice en el trabajo, Iva a ser para
bien o para mal?

Marta: Yo entiendo que el cambio
es bueno porque..., pero aqui
aparece alguien, y lo voy a
confirmar ahora, voy a sacar una
carta de aqul...

Consultant: LY esa persona
desconocida que se me va aparecer
es hombre o mujer?

Marta: IMujer!

Mercedita Vald6s (canta): Sea el
Santisimo, Sea el Santisimo...Madre
mia de la Caridad, ay6danos,
acompifianos, en el nombre de Dios,
iAy, Dios!

Creditos: El Instituto Cubano del
Arte e Industria Cinematogrificos

Locutor: A las puertas del aflo
1992 la Espafta de los Reyes Cat61icos
sigue present en muchos lugares
de Cuba, por ejemplo, en La Habana,
donde vive Marta GonzAlez, una
devenida espiritista, quien afirma
ser posesionada por el espiritu de Su
Majestad, Isabel de Castilla...


Con la participaci6n de:
Dulce Maria Valet
Mercedes Vald6s Ach6
Lazaro Ross
Grupo Yoruba Andab6
Carlos Embale

Una realizaci6n de:
Luis Felipe Bernaza

Sobre los cr6ditos la Orquesta
Arag6n canta:
Hasta la Reina Isabel baila el
danz6n, porque es un ritmo muy
dulce y sabros6n. Hasta la Reina
Isabel baila el danz6n...

Entrevistador: Marta, Z,Y cuando
es que Isabel la Cat61ica pasa por
usted por vez primer?
Marta: Bueno, por vez primer
ella pasa por ml cuando yo tenia
doce o trece afios...

Entrevistador: `Y con que
frecuencia ese espiritu pasa por

Marta: Ese espiritu pasa por mi
con una frecuencia
bastante...distante una de otra....
Ahora es que hace cuesti6n de dos o
tres afos ella pasa de forma
mis...breve, pero mas,
mis asidua Lno? mis frecuente...

Entrevistador: LY a qu6 usted
cree que se debe eso? Esa asiduidad.

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Bernaza: baila danz6n

Marta: Bueno, esa asiduidad no es
que pase diariamente, porque ella
no es un espiritu de labor como los
espiritus africanos, Lno es verdad?
Sencillamente, que yo entiendo que
ella persigue algo...

Locutor: A casi cinco siglos del
"encuentro de dos cultures" una
cierta pol6mica se ha desatado en
torn a la possible canonizaci6n por
el Vaticano de su Majestad Isabel la
Cat61ica a pesar del voto en contra
de gran part del pueblo espaffol, de
las comunidades judias y
musulmanas y de toda Am6rica

Entrevistador: Marta, iy usted
cree que a traves de su persona
pudieramos entrevistar a Isabel la
Cat61ica a partir de que ella se le
aparece a usted? Usted la ve, es un
espiritu que afluye en su cuadro
spiritual, con preguntas derivadas
de una encuesta popular, de lo que
quisiera preguntarle el pueblo a

Marta: Repiteme la pregunta,
porque no te he entendido a

Entrevistador: Compaflera, Lusted
cree en los espiritus?

Mujer 1: LY esa pregunta para que

Entrevistador: Estamos haciendo
un documental de cine...

Mujer 1: lAh, bueno! SI claro, si
yo soy religiosal

Hombre 1: ,C6mo no voy a career
en el espiritismo, chico? Yo tengo fe
en eso, chico... ,T6 sabes por qu6
tengo fe en eso? Porque yo profeso
una religion que compagina con el

Santero: Un espiritu puede
aparecer e inclusive manifestarse y
como espiritu tomar posesi6n de
otra persona y expresarnos que
quiere, que siente...

Reinaldo GonzAlez, Director
de la Cinemateca de Cuba:
Yo creo que una espiritista cubana
puede sentir que ella habla con
Isabel la Cat6lica, es un asunto
tambi6n, de que los, las personas, el
auditorio de ella tambi6n lo crea...


Compaflera, ,me

Mujer 2: Digame...

Entrevistador: Una pregunta,
Lusted cree en los espiritus?

Mujer 2: jYo? LEn los espiritus?
iYo no creo ni en mi misma!

Hombre 2: Yo soy materialista
desde que estaba en el vientre de mi

Entrevistador: jSi usted cree que
pudieramos entrevistar a Isabel la
Cat61ica, al espiritu de su Majestad,
con una series de preguntas de una
encuesta popular, de lo que el
pueblo quisiera preguntarle...?

Marta: Bueno, yo te voy a decir
una cosa, esto no es un bot6n, una
liebre que se aprieta un bot6n y
brinca, ni una llamada tel6fonica
que yo hago y ella me contesta...Esto
es un tratado con un esplritu, el
cual tiene su ritual... Tendria yo
que en ese caso, tener las
condiciones precisas para llamar al
espiritu, Leh? Encomiar al espiritu
en una labor para entonces contar
con ella a ver si ella estA de acuerdo
en presentarse y en un segundo
piano y entonces contestar lo que se
pretend de ella.

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Bernaza: baila danz6n

Mercedita Vald6s: La luz,
redentora, te llama y te llama con

amor a la tierra. Yo quisiera ver a
ese ser, cantAndole gloria al Divino
Manuel. Oye, buen ser, avanza y
ven que el coro te llama y te dice,

Coro (canta): La luz redentora te
llama buen ser y te llama con amor
a la tierra... (se repite hasta el final
de la estrofa anterior)

Entrevistador: Segfin la
espiritista Marta Gonzalez Pared, el
espiritu de
Isabel la Cat6lica anda rondando La
Habana desde hace algin tiempo.
Reinaldo Gonzalez, jqu6 usted le
preguntaria a Su Majestad si la

Reinaldo: Bueno, yo nunca le
preguntaria a ella tonterias, porque
yo me imagine a Isabel la Cat61ica
siempre en la mesa de decisions y
si esta en el cielo, debe estar...en el
Polibur6 del cielo por lo menos.

Mujer 1: LIsabel la Cat61ica...? La
Sefiora de Fernando?



Mujer 1: ZLa que ayud6 a Col6n?


Mujer 2: Es realmente un chiste,
,no? LAnda deambulando por aqul?

Hombre 2: Bueno, muy sencillo.
Que qu6 harla ella para mejorar las
relaciones entire Cuba y Espafia...

Mujer 2: Qu6 soluci6n nos sugiere
para el problema del transport en

Reinaldo: Yo le preguntarla, por
qu6 ella mand6 unos cuantos

hombres en una barcaza, descubri6
esta Am6rica y ahi comenz6 la
poluci6n, hemos enmierdado esto y
a mi me gustaria saber si alli arriba
hay una comisi6n de ingenieros,
celestiales naturalmente, que nos
estan ayudando en algo para ver
c6mo...superamos esta rotura en la
capa de ozono...

Entrevistador: LUsted estA de
acuerdo en que ella sea santa?

Marta: Sencillamente yo entiendo
que ella, si algunos errors cometi6,
que es verdad, fueron grandes, pero
ella respondi6 a una 6poca, ,no?
y...a lo que le toc6 vivir, entonces,
como le repito, de no haber sido ella
hubiera hecho...,lo hubiera hecho
otro que hubiese venido, si en los
destinos de Dios estaba, en los
designios que eso fuera asl...

Santero: Yo, no estoy de acuerdo,
porque Isabel la Cat6lica no hizo
ningin milagro y para ser santa
tiene que tener, por lo menos, dos
milagros, los cuales yo no le conozco
ninguno, al contrario, hizo la

Mujer 3: LC6mo va a ser santa esa
mujer? LC6mo va a ser santa si
invent desde la Inquisici6n y hasta
acab6 con todo el continent? Y
todavia estan quemando gente por
culpa de ella...

Mujer 1: LSanta? iSanta soy yo,

Marta: Ella se aparece, por
ejemplo, la 6ltima vez que la vi, y no
hace muchos dias, venia bajando, a
ver si nos entendemos, por una
edificaci6n que era como si fuera de

Mujer 4: LQu6 se siente ella y c6mo
logr6 Ilegar a ser santa o llegar a
que se le propusiera como santa?
Porque eso es casi ganarse un Oscar
o un Grammy.

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Bernaza: baila danz6n

Hombre 3: A mi...a mi me ha
llamado la atenci6n esos versos que
se cantaban en su 6poca y que
decian: "tanto monta, monta tanto,
Isabel como Fernando," le queria
preguntar a ver qu6 hay de verdad
en eso, ,no?

Vitier: Teniendo en cuenta su
experiencia como dirigente, tal
como la historic consigna, yo
preguntaria: ,qu6 media usted
adoptari para solucionar el
problema de la escasez de la bebida
aqui en Cuba?

Orquesta Van Van: Que se baile,
que se siga, que se gire sin parar,
pero con cuidado, (cantan) que la
orquesta va a apretar, ibailen!, aqui
el que baila gana, pique vuelvan la
pr6xima semana (se repite). lAy, ay!
En mi Cuba se baila todo con sabor,
con sentimiento y con raz6n...

Marta: En este sagrado moment,
nos reunimos en esta sinagoga
spiritual, hermanos de buena
voluntad que venimos, Sefior, a
pedirte misericordia. En este
moment nos reunimos buscando la
luz y el conocimiento spiritual
para todos los hermanos que hayan
dejado el piano de la tierra y que
est6n vagando, que el Padre los
acoja en su seno y para los que
tienen luz que alcancen mis y, en
particular, para el espiritu de quien
ayer era Isabel, fue Cat61ica y crey6
en ti y espera que ti la recibas, Dios
mio, para cumplir ya su vagar por
este mundo...

Entrevistador: Alberti, se dice
que el espiritu de Su Majestad
Isabel, la Cat61ica anda rondando La
Habana. ,Qu6 usted le diria a Isabel
la Cat61ica?

Alberti: iQue se fuera de aqui

Marta: Ayfdanos, ayfidanos,
ayfdanos mamA Caridad, que si tfi no
nos ayudas, ay, Dios, Lqui6n nos va a
ayudar? Que de lejos ti traigas la paz
y la tranquilidad que tanto
necesitamos, paz y sosiego para el
mundo, rectificaci6n...

Entrevistador: Se dice que el
espiritu de Isabel la Cat61ica ronda
La Habana, LQud pregunta te
gustaria hacerle?

Santero: Bueno, yo le...lo que le
preguntaria que qu6 carencia de
descanso eterno ella puede tener...

Marta: Yo me pongo en el piano
spiritual, yo no me pongo...yo
soy imparcial, no defiendo al
espiritu porque por mis venas corre
raza negra, una raza que ella
quem6, que ella acab6 con
ella...Acab6 con los indios, acab6
con los negros, hizo sufrir much a
los indios y aqui esti ella clavada,
pero clavada penando, su espiritu
pena por todo el dafto que le caus6 a
los indios que acab6, que arras6 en
esta tierra y ella esti aqui, pero esta
pagando una culpa, por eso, ese
espiritu no se eleva...

(Canto folkl6rico intraducible)

Mujer 1: Le preguntarla si en su
6poca, ella respet6 los derechos
humans de mi raza...

Grupo que canta: Me trajeron los
espafloles, en un barco carabela, me
tiraron en el monte, como si fuera
una piedra.

Marta: Su Majestad, yo te invoco y
te llamo en este sagrado moment
para que tus fluidos espirituales
lleguen hasta nosotros, para

Entrevistador: ,Por qu6 tu crees
que Isabel no ha fluido, no ha

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Bernaza: baila danz6n

Marta: Bueno, ella puede tener sus
razones que puede que yo las
desconozca, pero en definitive, ella
como espiritu tiene el derecho de
presentarse o no presentarse. A
ella se le dieron, "se le dio" una
labor y, en definitive, vinieron
otros series, ella no vino porque no
entenderd, o no tendra la
autorizaci6n de quien estA por
encima de ella, que es Dios...

Locutor: Pedimos disculpa a los
sefores espectadores por no haber
podido entrevistar a su Majestad
Isabel la Cat61lica, cuyo espiritu no
quiso hacer acto de presencia, en su
lugar hemos convocado a un poeta
que no necesita de autorizaci6n
alguna para presentarse en ning6n
sitio de 6ste, su largo--lagarto

NicolAs Guill6n: Yoruba soy, soy
lucumi, mandinga, congo, carabali,
atiendan amigos, mi son que acaba
asi: salga el mulato, suelta el zapato,
diganle al blanco que no se va de
aqui, no hay nadie que se separe,
mire y no pare, oiga y no pare, beba
y no pare, coma y no pare, viva y no
pare, que el son de todos no va a

Cr6ditos finales:

Direcci6n de fotograffa:
Roberto Fernandez
Gloria Arglelles
Jorge Delvaty
Director asistente:
Gloria Rolando
Celina Morales y Paco Prats
Juan R. Rodriguez
Hector Cabrera
Juan Carlos Roque

Sergio Benitez
Disefio de cr6ditos:
Adalberto Rodriguez
Cimara de animaci6n:
Hector Borroto
Idea original:
Maria Hernandez y
Juan C. Roque
Gui6n cinematografico:
Luis Felipe Bernaza
Editor asistente:
Maria M. HernAndez
Niimeros musicales:
"Aqul el que baila gana";
Autor Juan Formell
Interpretado por los Van Van

"S.M. Reina Isabel";
Autor Electo Rosell
Interpretado por la
Arag6n (Canciones
Folkl6ricas, D.R.)


Agradecemos la colaboraci6n de
Radio Taino

Estudios de Sonido ICAIC
Laboratories, ICAIC

Fin Rollo Dos.

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Puerto Rico:


a National


Kino Garcia
Taller de Cine La Red
San Juan, Puerto Rico

The contact with the magic of
movies created in Latin America
desires and expectations for
producing cinema which brought
about different results according to
each country's material condition
and cultural development. Since
the very beginning, Argentina,
Brazil and Mexico succeeded in
developing a national cinema
which reflected their own as well as
the collective cosmovision of these
peoples. Nevertheless, for obvious
economic conditions, none of them
would completely establish the
industrial-commercial concept that
would prevail in the United States.
At any rate, despite the
tendencies of each country, the art
of cinema started out as an
experiment, exploring new
concepts of form, structure,
rhythm, movement, space, time,
composition, and eventually, color.
The self-portrait which artists made
of themselves, of their countries,
and inevitably affected by material
from other countries (cinema
achieved a quick international
exchange), was what in time and
with production continuity defined
the national character of cinema in
each country.
In Puerto Rico, lack of that
continuity (especially in dramatic
cinema) and the Island's political

condition as a colony of the United
States affected the feasibility of a
Puerto Rican film project. This
second factor, besides making the
international market less accessible
and reaching the rest of the
Spanish-speaking world less
feasible, has socio-psychological
implications. Bear in mind that the
media arrives after the American
invasion and that production starts
under a colonial government.

First Stages

The first movies (by the
Spanish photographer Rafael
Colorado and Ponce-born Juan
Vigui6 Cajas) were produced more
than a decade after the medium
arrived in the island. Initially the
works were more like film
rehearsals or documentary news
sports. In Colorado's case they
supposedly served to complement
the foreign films he distributed
throughout the Island. As for
Vigui6, his works were presented at
the Havana movie house in Ponce
where he was the projectionist.
There is no evidence of these
materials, therefore, we cannot
judge them critically.
Un drama en Puerto Rico
(1915) by Rafael Colorado was
possibly the first film production
structured in Puerto Rico. It was
followed by Por la hembra v nor
el gallo (1916), El milagro de la
virgan and Mafia en Puerta de
Tierra. The titles suggest a strong
creole element and thematic
variety. Colorado also organized the
first film production company:
Sociedad Industrial Cine Puerto Rico
Tropical Films followed
SICPR. Colorado, and Puerto Rican
writers Luis Llor6ns Torres and
Nemesio Canales, formed part of this
group. Paloma del monte
(Mountain Dove), a romantic movie
directed by Llor6ns and with

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Garcia: National Cinema

Colorado as cameraman, was their
most important production. On the
other hand, this company's first
production was a news-style
documentary: Los funerales de
Mufloz Rivera. The common
element of these productions seems
to be the search for a theme and a
self-image which could identify us
as a people.
With the film Sacloir of
the Hills in 1919, there began a
short cycle of co-productions or
foreign productions filmed in
Puerto Rico, that were produced
with American actors and addressed
to that market Among these we
should mention Amor tropical
(1921) and El hijo del desierto
(1922), both by Porto Rican
Photoplays (a locally incorporated
company with mixed economic
resources) and the Paramount
Pictures production Aloma de los
mares del Sur (1926). Puerto Rico
turned into a paradise that
captivated the attention of a foreign
public oblivious to the Island's
reality and who yearned for a more
exotic and romantic setting.
After Aloma de los mares
del Sur, there was a gap solely
occupied by Juan Viguid's
documentaries. Vigui6 achieved his
greatest success with the first sound
film produced in Puerto Rico:
Romance tropical (1934). In
terms of plot it resembles Aloma de
los mares del Sur. It was written
by the poet Luis Pal6s Matos, acted
out by non-professional actors, and
produced with a low budget. The
plot revolves around a romantic
fatalism with a paradoxically happy
ending. Even during the 60's, this
thematic tendency was still present
in many films. This lack of
continuity in production did not
allow the complete development of a

national cinema reflecting our
common idiosyncrasy.

A National Expression:
Divisl6n de Educaci6n de la
Comunidad (DIVEDCO)

Continuity in national
production was precisely brought
about during the third period of the
history of cinema in Puerto Rico
(1946-1970). The focal point as well
as its greatest expression was found
in the films produced by the
Community Education Division of
the government of Puerto Rico
(DIVEDCO). This government
branch formed a group of
technicians, directors, writers and
artists in different disciplines who
produced a new point of view in
terms of filmmaking.
This filmmaking--Puerto
Rican in its expression--
transcended the island limits and
captivated an international
audience. Among the directors we
find Jack Delano, Amilcar Tirado,
Marcos Betancourt and Oscar Torres.
DIVEDCO's purpose was to
integrate the people to the
democratic process and to an
accelerated industrial development
as part of a defined public policy.
This cinema, though it was just one
of a series of instruments to achieve
a greater goal, succeeded in
portraying a film image of
ourselves which has never been
surpassed. Various authors who
later became famous were part of
the production team: Emilio Diaz
Valcircel, Ren6 Marqu6s, Pedro
Juan Soto.
The Film Unit was patterned
after the National Film Board of
Canada model, with some influence
from the British documentary
school. At any rate, it was a unique
program only comparable with
later programs in Cuba and

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Garcia: National Cinema

Nicaragua which followed similar
Their greatest work was the
film Los peloteros (The
Ballplayers) in 1951. It was their
first feature film and a classic of
our cinema, which was followed by
Una voz en la montafta (1952),
fEl puentet (1952),Modesta (1955),
Cuando los padres olvidan
(1957),El yago (1959), and EJ
resinandor (1961). The latter was
one of Divedco's best productions.
The titles reflect the variety of
themes explored in the DIVEDCO
The films' topics responded to
a defined social policy and to
educational objectives. We must
understand DIVEDCO's films within
this context. After 1968, film
production started to dwindle. This
coincided with the coming to power
of a new political party-the New
Progressive Party- whose advocacy
for conservative assimilation did
not fit the goals DIVEDCO had
pursued up to that moment. Other
factors contributed to the
dismantling of the film unit.
Among these, a dramatic increase
in production costs.
Towards the end of the 60's,
the films produced by DIVEDCO had
contributed to build the bases for a
Puerto Rican cinema and inspired
independent filmmakers with a new
style of documentary cinema. It has
also transformed cinema into a tool
for social change. In 32 years
(1947-79), they had more than 80
productions of which we have been
able to compile 72 titles divided into
five thematic groups. The bulk of
these were cultural information or
folklore films (43%), followed by
those about collective or community
projects, the democratic or political
process, music or musical shorts,
and a small group of films about
Christmas themes not included in

the first group. Only two were
feature films.

The Search for a Lost Identity

With the film Escombros
(1953) by the Dominican Rolando
Barreras, and shortly after with the
better known Maruia (1958) by
PROBO Films, there was a modest
boom in feature film production in
the Island which would reach a
climax during the 60's.
Maruia aroused great
expectations about producing
dramatic feature films.
Nevertheless, the development of
this type of film was limited in its
economic resources, the objectives
it pursued, the ever present
distribution problem, its lack of
authenticity, and its poor technical-
aesthetic quality, among others.
Since the beginning, these
productions used formulas from
television which in turn had been
influenced by radio soap operas and
Mexican films (some local
producers established a kind of
alliance with the latter). There
were many co-productions with
Mexico, and to a lesser degree, with
Spain and Argentina.
At the same time there was
an increase in the number of
foreign films, mainly American,
filmed in Puerto Rico, but that
contributed very little to the
development of a national cinema.
Representative films of the
time such as Tres
puertorriqueflos v un deseo
(1961), Lamento borincano
(1962), El libarito Rafael (1965),
Bello amanecer (1966), El
alcalde de Machuchal (1964),
and later on the detective thrillers
which would continue into the 70's,
illustrate how the filmmakers tried
to create a commercial cinema
through the search for a Puerto
Rican expression, but imitating

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Garcia: National Cinema

styles and tendencies which, on the
other hand, hindered their artistic
and commercial success.
This type of cinema--with a
TV soap opera style--in many
instances exploited the Island's
landscape as a kind of tourist
brochure, while in others it
resorted to sex and/or violence (as
in the detective films) which came
to us from other places, and in
numerous instances it used well-
known Spanish-speaking TV and
film stars who had many fans. The
artistic and commercial failure of
these mediocre productions did not
allow the establishment of a feature
film industry. Production fell from
45 films in the 6Y0s to only 15 in the
next decade.
But if we talk about cinema
we must also talk about other types,
such as the short film. The best
films of the times are precisely the
documentary films which were
characterized by what I once called
"new documentarism." These were
produced by independent
filmmakers or small companies and
inspired by the common causes and
political effervescence of the 1968-
75 period. Among the best films of
this period were the ones produced
by Tirabuz6n Rojo, Sandino Films
and by New York-based filmmakers
such as Jose Garcia and Jose Soltero.
Their objective was a populist
cinema that could rescue and
project our image as a people, and
manifest the aspirations of the
popular sectors. The various
themes can be grouped into
community problems, political
strife or denouncements, and
This type of documentary
made way for humanist/cultural
content films, mainly sponsored by
institutions like the Puerto Rican
Endowment for the Humanities. The
themes vary, but the search for an
authentic visual image persisted.

Although limited in its scope, there
is a movement of independent
productions filmed in Super 8,
which explore the experimental
and documentary genres. On the
other hand, a strengthened
publicity industry created a
minimum infrastructure for
cinema production that should lead
us to assess the type of Puerto Rican
cinema we should create and its
After the film Dios los
cria... (1980), which opened a new
decade for national cinema and was
the first of a trilogy by director
Jacobo Morales, film production in
Puerto Rico reached a high quality.
It is evident when we mention films
like NicolAs v los demAs. La
gran fiesta and, closing the
decade, the successful film Lo que
le pas6 a Santiago, which
through its nomination for an
Academy Award as Best Foreign
Film, it again placed our cinema
production at the international
sphere while reflecting our true
Already a classic of our
cinema, Lo que le pas6 a
Santiago reflects a dramatic
change of our society. It can be
traced back to Los ipeloteros.
which depicts that other distant
Puerto Rico in the time and concept
of our reality. Both share a
common factor: the search for our
image, the one lost in false mirrors,
but regained by becoming
protagonists instead of spectators.
We have barely advanced one step
in cinema culture from the rural
Puerto Rico where misery abounded
to the alienated middle-class in
search of an identity in Santiago's
modern Puerto Rico.
Jacobo Morales's trilogy
establishes a visual style and
elements common in all stories
written and directed by the same
person. It is also the first time, in

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film

Garcia: National Cinema

feature films, that the style adheres
to the auteur film theory. Lo que
le pasd a Santiago reflects the
success and artistic maturity of a
director who was able to make a
precise portrait of a Puerto Rican
middle class and its dilemmas.
Happiness and the options we have
to attain it are represented as
qualities similar to lunacy; this
infuses an authentic and
refreshingly positive view which is
summarized in the film's
unexpected ending. Thus, the film
achieves something very
important: through coherent script
development it portrays an image of
what we were and still are.
With that notion in mind, I will
allow myself a final reflection.
I believe it is necessary to
develop a Puerto Rican cinema that
responds to our collective interests
and a vision of the cosmos that
springs from our own needs and
beliefs; it is necessary to project
ourselves to the world in terms
which trascend tourist brochures
and the distorted images others
have shaped of us. Perhaps then a
parallelism between our films and
the socio-political processes in
which our country is embroiled will
finally develop.
A national cinema project
cannot materialize out of nothing.
It needs roots and a concerted effort
to make it happen. From those first
films which no longer exist we
learned there is a need to
understand the importance of a
sense of history and of the study of
history in order to rescue our
cultural heritage piece by piece. It
is precisely our objective to
stimulate broader research of
cinematic production and the
establishment of a film library and
As Arcadio Diaz Quifiones has
stated in the Preface to Puerto

Rico: Identidad national v
classes sociales. "Artistic
expressions are responses to and
practices of social forces in
conflict." A national cinema will
have to respond to that vision in
order to realize itself as an
historical project. Puerto Rican
filmmaking is still a pending
project, but I cannot but hope that
the traditional obstacles will be
overcome and the project will
become a reality.

Translated from Spanish by
Aileene Alvarez
University of Puerto Rico

(This essay appeared in Spanish in
Centre, the bulletin of the Centro
de Estudios Puertorriqueftos,
Vol. II, No. 8 (Spring 1990): 81-90
and its translation to English is
included here with the author's

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film



The Art of Derek Walcott

Stewart Brown, ed.
The Art of Derek Walcott
Seren Books, 1991.

The bulk of English-
language poetry in the Caribbean is
not much known elsewhere. It has
not travelled well. Readers who
discuss Philip Larkin and Seamus
Heaney do not seem to have much to
say about Edward Brathwaite or
Dennis Scott. Why should this be
so? Almost thirty years ago, Derek
Walcott, writing in the Trinidad
Sunday Guardian, suggested some
possible reasons. The structure of
most West Indian verse, he wrote,
"is either sprawlingly modern or
embarrassingly imitative. It is
weakened into mere rhetoric by
such themes as national pride or
racial peevishness." Nationalist tub-
thumping and whinings about
color: strong topics locally, but they
tend to play less forcefully further
Derek Walcott has managed to
avoid most of these pitfalls. He is
neither sprawlingly modern nor
(after his first four volumes)
unduly imitative. When he
expresses pride in being a St.
Lucian, it is heavily conditioned;
when he writes about what it means
to be of mixed race in the all-black
or almost-all white worlds that he
alternately inhabits, he does so in a
way that is complex, ironic, and

conspicuously un-peevish. And to
these negative distinctions we must
add a positive one: he has a theme of
universal import. He writes as
someone suspended between
varying possibilities: rootedness, or
mobility; an attachment to a small,
oppressive but intensely human
world, or membership of the larger
world or Our Universal Civilization
(Naipaul's phrase); the use of West
Indian Creole with its immediacy, or
standard English with its expressive
resources and great literary legacy.
These dichotomies are of great and
growing concern to readers who
cannot even find Trinidad or St.
Lucia on a map. Uprootedness and
the shuttling between cultures is a
common contemporary fate as is
exile--internal exile, as much as an
exile of geographical displacement.
(It could be said that anyone who
reads Walcott is in a sense in an
exile from the society he lives in.)
Walcott circles around such
dichotomies in book after book, and
it is this that gives his work its
splendid universality and ensures
that it will 'travel'.
The Art of Derek Walcott
is the best and most comprehensive
survey to date of the work of this
laureate of displacement. The
twelve contributors are all experts
on various phases of Walcott's work
and each discusses the aspect of that
work that he or she finds of
particular interest. The
chronological layout of the survey
from apprentice work in the first
chapter to the recently published
Omeros in the last, allows the
reader to follow (in the words of
Steven Brown, the book's editor)
"not so much the 'development', but
the ways in which (Walcott's)
attitudes towards those central
issues of Caribbean identity modify
and change over the almost half a
century of his writing career." It
should be said that when we can

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


talk like that about a writer's work,
we are acknowledging that that
writer has gone beyond the writing
of isolated works: he or she is well
on the way to the creation of what
the French call an oeuvre.
In chapter 7 of The Art of
Derek Walcott, Stewart Brown
does a fine job in redeeming the
early Walcott of 25 Poems through
In a Green Night (the period
from 1948 to 1962) from the charge
of indiscriminate indebtedness to
his literary forebears. For a young
poet growing up in a colonial and
philistine society, to stick other
men's feathers in his cap is to
assume an "enabling mask" behind
which differing literary styles and
what Brown calls "different
positions" on Caribbean history
may be tried out Yeats and Eliot,
the decisive influences on Walcott's
early work, provided appropriate
models for these self-dramatizations
and assumed postures, Yeats's
'masks' and Prufrock's assumption
of faces to meet the faces he would
meet proving particularly
amenable. For Brown, the very
boldness of Walcott's appropriation
of other men's voices is a token of
his originality: second-rate poets
borrow but first-rate poets steal
(Eliot again).
The donning and doffing of
histories and styles also features
prominently in Nana Wilson-
Tagoe's essay on Another Life
(1972). Most interesting for this
reader was Ms. Wilson-Tagoe's
demonstration of how Walcott tries
in Another Life to reconcile the
dichotomies mentioned earlier in
this review. Here is a writer in love
with the literary tradition and with
the great language in which a
major part of that tradition is
embodied, but also fiercely
dedicated to getting down on paper
the specifics of the Caribbean

reality ("the always surprisingly
stale smell of the sea...and the reek
of human rags that you once
thought colorful"). The modes of
perception relevant to these widely
differing ambitions pull in two
different ways and call for two
different uses of English. Ms.
Wilson-Tagoe's phrase, "language as
the fusion of interrelated
presences" could hardly be
bettered as a description of the
transactions between Creole and
Standard English, or between the
simple elemental English of what
Walcott has called a "style past
metaphor" and the intensely
metaphoric English, paying
homage to a great literary tradition,
that characterize the work of this
"mulatto of style".
Lawrence A. Breiner covers
some of the same ground in his
essay on Walcott's early drama (e.g.
"So the characteristic tone is set:
elemental and literary at once") as
does Ned Thomas in his essay on
The Star-apple Kingdom (1979),
when he subtly tries to tease out the
meaning of Walcott's phrase "my
common language (common to
whom? and why me?) from The
Schooner Fliht. And that same
key issue of which English, and
what level of English to use, recurs
in Denis Donoghue's remark
(quoted by Mervyn Morris in his
admirable chapter on The
Fortunate Traveller) that
Walcott's Standard English is
"dangerously high for nearly every
purpose except that of Jacobean
tragedy". (Morris's own incisive
comment on the language problem
is that we often get in Walcott's
poetry is "the ironic drama of
contrasted tones.") A last comment
along these lines from Edward
Baugh's essay on The Arkansas
Testament (1987) is also worth
quoting: "The story (of Walcott's
poetry) is not so much one of
evolution or 'progress' as of a

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


continuous acting out of a dialectic
of style and form--plain speaking
against oblique and densely
textured utterance, free verse
against formal, traditional metrics,
informally against oratorical
eloquence." This emphasis on
"acting out" and on dialectical
strategy is extraordinarily relevant
to the work of this poet, who, a
dramatist by temperament, 'tries on'
a new stance to experience and the
problem of identity every time he
brings out a new book.
Other interesting essays are
Lowell Fiet's cogent and scholarly
account of Walcott later plays
(though to imply that Walcott is in
the same class as Shaw and Beckett
might be pitching it rather high)
and John Figueroa's up-to-the-
minute commentary on Omeros
(1991), for the reading and writing
of which, the author complains, he
was only allowed six weeks! But for
this reader, really fresh ground was
broken by Clara Rosa de Lima's
essay on Walcott's career as a
painter, in which she suggests,
amid many other illuminating
comments about the 'visual' aspects
of Walcott's literary style, that Van
Gogh may have served as Walcott's
model of the true artist. Certainly
Ms. de Lima's reference to Van
Gogh's "absolute commitment to art
and the obsessional manner of his
pursuit of that commitment" could
apply just as well to Walcott himself.
This very useful collection of
critical articles will give the reader
much to think about and supply
aspiring critics of Caribbean
literature with a myriad points of
departure for their own critical
evaluations of this key figure in
that literature. But to mention
"critical evaluations" is to be
reminded of what is perhaps the
collection's major drawback: its
failure to distinguish the best from

the worst in Walcott and to pinpoint
the limits to his talent. A more
critically probing volume might
have targeted Walcott's
"dangerously high" diction, his
tendency to work his metaphoric
muse overtime (e.g. "A shoveful of
blackbirds/shot over the road's
shoulder/and memory twittered
backwards", etc.), and his not
infrequent lurches into a pointless
cleverness and obscurity. To read
Derek Walcott is not always
enjoyable, though one would not
glean that fact from perusing these
Many years ago T.S. Eliot
suggested that the tools of criticism
were analysis and comparison, but
of late these tools seem to have
fallen into disrepair. Of analysis, as
opposed to explication de texte,
there is all too little in The Art of
Derek Walcott, and of comparison
virtually nothing. Could it be that
Walcott is already a classic? That he
is accepted as our Best and Brightest
so that it is now too late to criticize
the man? I hope not, because
classics are dead writers and Walcott
is still very much alive. An
occasional spot of asperity, or the
sense that these critics are putting
their lives on the line when they
read and write about Derek Walcott,
would have enlivened what is
otherwise a quite admirable piece of
academic stock-taking.

Gerald Guinness
University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


Falsas Cronicas del Sur

Ana Lydia Vega
Falsas cr6nicas del Sur
Rio Piedras: Editorial de la
Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1991.

Al comenzar el relato de mis
impresiones de Falsas cr6nicas
del Sur de Ana Lydia Vega, traslado
mi pensamiento desde la verde flora
nortefia de Puerto Rico a la Arida
Ilanura sureia que se extiende
desde Yabucoa hasta Cabo Rojo. Este
litoral es parecido, en su geografla,
al de la isia de Vieques. En 61 crece
igualmente arbustos y Arboles de la
misma especie, y es tambiin propio
para la crianza de ganado vacuno y
caballos. Durante la temporada de
sequla en ambos litorales, el ganado
languidece y muere.
Mi madre era natural de
Salinas. Naci6 en la 6poca en que
"nada sucedia por aquellos lares";
situaci6n parecida a la de los
pueblitos enclavados en la llanura
castellana inmortalizados en los
cantares del poeta espafiol Antonio
Machado. Entremos en La
Enriqueta, la suntuosa mansi6n de
los protagonistas del primer cuento,
simbolo de la estructura econ6mica-
social del siglo xix. Sus moradores
vivian en la opulencia. Afuera, en
el amplio batey, los esclavos vivian
hacinados en barracones en
condiciones inhumanas. Los vastos
cafiaverales se extendian hasta la
costa del Mar Caribe, el mare
nostrum de las Antillas por donde
naveg6 el almirante Crist6bal Col6n
en 1493 y descubri6 a Puerto Rico
para bien de los europeos y para
sufrimiento y muerte de los
aborigenes. Ocurren hechos de
sorprendente realismo en el Ambito
hogarefto de la Casona. Con
singular habilidad literaria, la
autora nos sefiala los rasgos
peculiares de cada personaje, hecho

que nos ayuda a familiarizarnos con
ellos y asi conocerlos mejor. Por
ejemplo, el amor maternal de la
esclava Bela a Charlie, el hijo
primogenito y inico en el
matrimonio de los Lind.; la actitud
febril de Mr. Lind en los negocios,
su ruda virilidad y caracter
inflexible; la neurosis que padece
Mrs. Susan durante la ausencia
prolongada de su esposo; el caricter
temperamental de Charlie; la
serenidad del temperament de Miss
Florence Jane, la 6ltima institutriz
de Charlie.
En medio de los personajes
nombrados, se destaca la figure
hist6rica de Mr. Samuel Morse,
padre de Susan e inventor del
tel6grafo. En 1858 instal6 la
primer line telef6nica en Puerto
Rico desde la hacienda La Enriqueta
hasta el almac6n del puerto. En
reconocimento a sus m6ritos, el
pueblo de Arroyo honr6 su memorial
otorgandole su nombre a la calle
Las visits eran algo
traditional en aquella 6poca, con
amigos de la comunidad,
personalidades importantes de la
sociedad de Salinas y extranjeros.
Se daban banquetes suntuosos,
paseos campestres y charlas en las
cuales el tema favorite era el
comportamiento de la vida ajena.
En todas estas facetas, la autora nos
deleita con precision y lujo de
detalles la complejidad de la vida en
la sociedad del moment. Su
narrative talentosa da vida a los
El litoral surefio es Jargo,
ancho e hist6rico. Dejemos atras a
Yabucoa, Arroyo, Salinas y Patillas
para visitar a los pueblos de Coamo,
Santa Isabel, Juana Diaz, Ponce,
Aguirre, Yauco, Sabana Grande,
Lajas y Cabo Rojo. Ciertamente este
litoral es rico en pueblos, algunos
de ellos con una gran historic.
Recuerdo a Coamo por haber tenido
el placer de bafiarme en sus aguas

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


termales en busca de salud. Juana
Diaz es la cuna del poeta
costumbrista puertorriqueflo Luis
Llorens Torres. Ciertamente Ponce
es una ciudad seftorial e hist6rica,
siendo cuna de hombres ilustres que
se destacaron en la miisica, poesia,
literature amplia y en la defense de
los derechos politicos de los
puertorriqueflos. Vivi cerca de los
baftos termales en el Barrio
Quintana y la calle Estrella.
Recuerdo el tranvia el6ctrico (el
troli), las cabezas de caballos y el
ferrocarril que salla de San Juan a
las 7:30 A.M. y Ilegaba a Ponce a las
5:30 P.M. En la ciudad se
conmemora anualmente la Masacre
de Ponce, ocurrida en 1937. La
policia de Puerto Rico, atendiendo a
6rdenes del General Blanton
Winship, dispar6 a mansalva contra
una parada pacifica del Partido
Nacionalista de Puerto Rico.
Por la bahia de Guinica
entraron las tropas invasoras de los
Estados Unidos en son de conquista
el 25 de julio de 1898, durante la
guerra hispanoamericana. La
central Guinica era una de las tres
centrales azucareras mis poderosas
de Puerto Rico. Posela miles de
cuerdas sembradas de carfa de
azficar en violaci6n de la ley de las
500 cuerdas que era el maximo de
cuerdas que podia poseer una
corporaci6n privada. En la oficina
de la central Aguirre, mi madre
trabaj6 como telegrafista. Lajas se
conoce por su hermoso valle y su
riqueza agricola. Termino el
recorrido de pueblos surehfos con la
llegada a Cabo Rojo, cuna de Ram6n
Emeterio Betances, organizador del
Grito de Lares en 1868.
Volviendo al primer relato de
Falsas cr6nicas del Sur, las
relaciones familiares terminan con
muerte, tristeza y soledad causados
por la intolerancia y el prejuicio de
la 6poca. ZY qu6 le sucede a Susan
Lind? Parece haber desaparecido

caminando sin rumbo por el
inmenso canaveral de La Enriqueta.
Y como todo en la vida, la otrora
pintoresca mansi6n se convirti6 en
polvo y recuerdo.
El libro de Ana Lydia Vega
significa una aportaci6n elocuente
a la cultural costumbrista de Puerto
Rico, especialmente por esos
cuentos que ilustran al lector la
sabiduria del hombre y la mujer
sencillos de la calle.

Carlos V61lez Rickehoff
Centro Bolivariano
Viequense, Puerto Rico


Carribean Poetry Now
Stewart Brown, ed.
London: Edward Arnold, 1992.
2nd Edition

The Caribbean Writer. VI
University of the Virgin Islands,
St. Croix, Virgin Islands.

The rallying cry of all
workers' struggles--Which side are
you on?--is also in its aesthetic
reading a central question for the
writer. To what extent does he
permit convention to shape his
personal voice? To what extent does
she let culture modulate her cry?
Assimilation and marginality are
the alternatives to be sought or
feared. The colonial circumstance
both magnifies and complicates
these questions of voice and tone,
subject and perspective, since the
language and forms of tradition in
the colony are by definition those

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


of the outsider; even if it may be the
only language you know, it is never
yours in the way it is to the one to
the manor born. Thus the history
of writing in the Caribbean
revolves around the weight of the
imposed culture and the pull of
native ties. If this is an aesthetic
question, one of technique and
language, it is also, and first of all, a
question of politics, of morality
(which side are you on?).
Let us not be too subtle. To be
rooted in the colonial world is, in
one way or another, to be uprooted.
Edward Kamau Brathwaite says the
Caribbean writer must, of necessity,
"hold a broken mirror up to broken
nature," and Nathaniel Mackey adds
that, "English isn't so much broken
as broken into." Aim6 C6saire
characterizes this process as
marroner, and Roberto FernAndez
Retamar, calibanization: to re-
constitute the shards and fragments
of shattered life in the only way
possible: to re-root (re-route).
"Every dialect," Fanon reminds us,
"is a way of thinking." If Joyce and,
at times, Walcott demonstrate that
the other way for the empire to
strike back is (in that Quebecois
phrase) to speak white, only to do it
better, their achievement should
not obscure its cost. It is perhaps
no accident that these two have
spent much of their lives in exile.
Caribbean Poetry Now, an
anthology of English-speaking
poets of the Caribbean, "Designed to
help candidates prepare for the CXC
English B Examination," helps us
understand these issues. "There's
no such thing as 'only literature,'"
Edward Baugh writes in one poem,
"Every line commits you." Editor
Stewart Brown's selection of poems
ranging from the traditional to the
experimental, with a range of
language from formal English to
patois, lays out the terms of the

struggle. The well-known are here,
Walcott, Brathwaite, Andrew Salkey,
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Wilson
Harris, E.A. Markham, Pauline
Melvile, but so too are the lesser-
known, and, in particular, those
who give us a sense of diversity of
the Caribbean today, Richard Ho
Long, Oku Onuora, Madadai Das,
Willi Chen, Jean Binta Breeze,
Rajandaye Ramkissoon-Chen.
Poems are arranged around broad
thematic groupings--Roots; Old
Folks, Death and Grief; Exile and
Homecoming--followed by an
appendix of notes and questions
about the poems. There is no
biographical information about the
poets nor any historical
Anthologies are always, in
one way or another, shorthand.
They are intended for the reader
who knows little or nothing about
the subject, who wants a place to
begin or who does not have the time
to find out for himself (the Norton
anthologies of English literature,
Des Imagistes). Thus the
anthology occupies a zone-bounded
(although perhaps not limited) by
the Harvard five-foot shelf, the
evening news, Cliffs Notes, self-
help manuals, the Sixties short film
satire of 2000 years of art in 90
seconds. These are products of a
culture dedicated to the short-cut,
the promise of something for
nothing, the packaging of the
unmanageable. Thus the anthology
always rips material from its
context and re-presents
(represents) it in a way that directs
our understanding: a part is to be
seen or suggest the whole.
That anthologies rarely
accomplish their ends should not
prevent us from understanding that
Caribbean Poetry Now. in its
arrangement of poems by subject
for one reason, does not rise above
the norm. Such an arrangement

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


(by subject) sorts poems as people
may be classed by skin color or
height. What these details tell us is
often clear, if not always
illuminating, but it is upon such
distinctions that bureaucracies
rule. We would have a better grasp
of Brathwaite or Walcott if their
poems were arranged together,
instead of scattered under various
topics. We would also know more
clearly how diverse and various
Caribbean writing is today--how it
is a series of streams in an ocean,
not a river with clearly defined
banks (in Guy Davenport's words)
--if Spanish, French and Dutch
poets were included as well as those
writing in English originally from
Africa, Asia, India. And we would
begin to understand, as Benitez Rojo
argues, that influence is not merely
linear--between the former colony
and its colonial power or between
the home of one's ancestors and
today's residence--but that it is also
centripetal, a Caribbean Kosmos.
Furthermore, if the questions of the
appendix are meant to make us
think about our experience of the
poetry, we should not fail to see also
that they direct our experience
towards a specific reading, that of
the English examination, and not,
necessarily, towards what use we
might make of Caribbean poetry; or
it of us.
The Caribbean Writer, the
current issue of this periodical
devoted to Caribbean writing, gives
us a clearer sense of what
historians call facts on the ground.
In its selection of poetry and prose,
an interview with John J. M.
Figueroa, a dozen or so book
reviews, and a special section on
Columbus in the Caribbean, we see
writers wrestling with their vision
and craft, work-in-progress,
writing in and from the Caribbean,
not works washed and made

antiseptic by canonization. Let me
draw your attention to Marvin E.
Williams, Narcissa White, E.A.
Markham, Geoffrey Philip.

Robert Buckeye
Middlebury College
Middlebury, Vermont

Green Cane And Juicy Flotsam;
Short Stories bv Caribbean
Carmen C. Esteves and Lizabeth
Paravisini-Gebert, editors
New Brunswick, New Jersey:
Rutgers University Press, 1991.

Green Cane And Juicy Flotsam,
edited by Carmen C. Stevens and
Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, is a
long-waited and extremely valuable
literary production. It should
provide any reader wonderful
insights in a panoramic view of
writing by women from the
Caribbean--women of the now
international reputation of Jamaica
Kincaid (Antigua), Jean Rhys
(Dominica), Olive Senior (Jamaica),
Michelle Cliff (Jamaica), Rosario
Ferr6 and Ana Lydia Vega (Puerto
Rico) to mention a few of the
twenty-seven representatives of
this region.
To say in this century that
these writers represent strong,
excellent voices falls short of the
praise they well deserve, for the
road has been long and hard. The
assembled stories provide the
generalist as well as the specialist
reader the opportunity to observe
this part of the world from a very
unique, distinct and well defined, if
I may, perspective in a genre that
so far had been given "sporadic and
individualized but not collective
The rich diversity of the
"themes and tropes" of these voices,
we are told by the editors, covers

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


the thread of "historical slavery,
colonialism, poverty, race and "the
correlations between national and
personal identity" and it is
precisely this that make the stories
so engrossing. These women
writers' craftiness draw the reader
into an otherwise limited view, for
women in this part of the world
have kept alive the traditions of our
This too long silent-silenced
message of the "other gender" by
the ruling-controlling male is now
conveyed with the written
language power of those who
understand the significance these
symbols have as a means to
contribute to the awareness of
positioning themselves in the place
they own by right.
The editors, who also doubled
as translators for some stories, have
included delightful tales from the
oral tradition-some anonymous-
such as the one from Guadeloupe-
"T6yite and the Devil." Writers such
as Rosario Ferr6 (Puerto Rico)
"have rescued, recorded and re-
written folk tales in a new tradition,
that of Caribbean feminism."
The eyes with which these
women writers, some from the same
islands, others from miles apart,
have seen and recorded what went
on and goes on in their midst,
should help the other side
recognize and validate their worth.
Although reticent to give any one
story any individual attention--
they are all superb in themes, styles
and techniques--I must mention at
least Dora Alonso's (Cuba) "Cotton
Candy," a disquieting, unusual
narrative about the frustrating
dream-like world of a person's life
from childhood to old age without
leaving the cocoon like cotton
If I were to choose one common
denominator for all these stories, I
would say it is the richness with

which these writers have captured
the essence of universal bondship
between themselves as female
narrators and their characters and
the plights of the latter. And they
do so with such daringness and
clarity the reader is hopelessly
seduced into a sea of perplexing yet
compelling language.

Luis Pomales
University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Ex-Isles: Essays on
Mbye Cham, editor.
Trenton, New Jersey:
Press, 1992.


Africa World

The legacy of colonialsm and
its impact on national cultures has
been written about extensively, but
nowhere more eloquently than in
The Wretched of the Earth
(1963) by Antillean writer Frantz
Fanon. According to Fanon,

colonialism is not satisfied
merely with holding people
in its grip and emptying the
native's brain of all form and
content. By a kind of
perverted logic, it turns to
the past of the oppressed
people, and distorts,
disfigures, and destroys it.

From this vantage point we can see
how literature and cinema and
other forms of cultural expression
manifest the insidious nature of

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


colonialism in both style and
subject matter. Although written in
the early '60's, Fanon's
formulations are particularly
relevant to the emerging Caribbean
cinema of the last two decades,
which has made dramatic attempts
to reclaim the past destroyed by
Edited by Mbye Cham, Ex-
Isles: Essays on Caribbean
Cinema fills a tremendous void in
our understanding of films
produced in this culturally diverse
region of the world. The collection
covers new territory even for those
familiar with the literature on
Latin America and Third World
Cinema. There are historical essays
on the development of cinema in
Haiti and Jamaica; analyses of the
best-known Caribbean films, such
as Sugar Cane Alley and Tlia
Harder They Come, and of lesser-
known films, including Ava and
Gabriel and Anita; and theoretical
inquiries into the definition of
"Caribbean" as it relates to cultural
The history of cinema
production and exhibition in the
Caribbean is similar to that of other
third-world countries. In the
1890's, long before there was any
continuous local production,
theatres in metropolitan areas like
Fort-de-France and Port-au-Prince
screened the earliest Lumiere
shorts. A fascinating essay by
Michaell Lafont-Medard on the
history of film in Haiti describes
how the country began consuming
images at the same time that these
same early documentaries and
tableaux films reached North
America. Lafont-Medard analyzes
the significance of the first film
footage produced in Haiti in 1899. It
depicted a fire in Port-au-Prince,
and the author examines it within
the context of the history of the fire

as a political means of expression
throughout the country.
Before the region's
involvement in national film
production, it was often used as an
exotic setting for Hollywood and
European productions. The James
Bond thriller Dr. No, cinemascope
spectacles such as Fire Down
Below and Island in the Sun.
and light comedies like Club
Paradise make use of what
Martinique writer Alain Menil calls
the "three S's" (sea, sex and sun).
This representation of the
Caribbean, replete with beautiful
beaches, syncopated calypso music,
and festive carnivals, in which one
country is substituted for another
with no attention to linguistic,
cultural, or historical difference,
presents a distorted vision of the
Caribbean for the purposes of
spectacle only.
This distorted vision is
precisely what Fanon was getting at
in his discussion of the impact of
colonialism on national culture.
Stuart Hall, in his essay, "Cultural
Identity and Cinematic
Representation," makes the most
explicit connection between
Fanon's writings and the question
of Caribbean identity, noting that
an understanding of Caribbean
identity encompasses both
similarity and difference. The
similarity linking these disparate
nations lies in their common
history of slavery and colonialism.
But the very real differences come
from the experiences derived from
being in the diaspora of a non-
monolithic Africa. The cultural
traditions of different countries,
with different languages and
religions, were transported from
the continent on the same ships
with the slaves and prevail
throughout the Caribbean today.
The emphasis on the Caribbean as
part of the African diaspora is one

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


of the most important contributions
of the collection, as it gives us a
frame of reference from
understanding the allusions to
African mythology and folklore
that resonate in Caribbean films
through characters like Medouze
the storyteller in Sugar Cane
Fanon's writings on
language in Black Skin. White
Masks also informs many of the
essays collected here. His analysis
of the conflict between the
language of the colonizer and the
colonized--for example, the use of
French versus Creole--is strikingly
evident in the increasing use of
indigenous languages in the films
produced in Guadaloupe,
Martinique, and Curacao. For
Fanon, language was no longer a
neutral means of expression; it
became symptomatic of the process
of assimilation and the difficulties
of maintaining a national culture
or history within the colonial
system. Fanon writes about the loss
of language and culture under
colonialism and how this gradually
led to feelings of alienation and
self-hatred. In the cinema of
Euzhan Palcy, Felix de Rooy, Elsie
Haas, and other Antillean
filmmakers discussed in these
essays, we see an attempt to
recapture language and culture
The essays also take up the
debate over what can properly be
called Caribbean cinema. For some,
like filmmaker Christian Lara from
Guadaloupe, the only legitimate
Caribbean films are those in which
there is a Caribbean director, a
Caribbean lead actor or actress, at
least some use of Creole language, a
Caribbean production unit, and a
Caribbean story. By Lara's own
definition, his first film, LUne
glace avec deux boules, would

be disqualified since it was shot in
France. This definition would also
exclude the many fine films by
Haitian filmmakers in exile who,
for political reasons, cannot
produce films in their own country.
Some of the most interesting
perspectives in the collection come
from interviews with the
filmmakers. Euzhan Palcy talks
about Sugar Cane Alley and the
obstacles she faced in securing
funding because of the subject
matter and the tenuous relation
between France and Martinique at
the time of its production. Felix de
Rooy, a filmmaker from Curaqao,
discusses the curious sense of
displacement in being part of the
African diaspora and traveling to
Ouagadougou to participate in the
festival of African films. For de
Rooy, making films in the
Caribbean means creating a
syncretic blend of African,
European, and indigenous
influences--a blend that is
uniquely Caribbean.
In essay after essay, there is
a continuous probing and
questioning of the term Caribbean
and what it means to be a Caribbean
filmmaker. While the collection of
essays certainly brings a
complexity to the appreciation and
understanding of films from the
region, the only real omission is a
discussion placing some of these
debates in the context of other Latin
American cinema movements.
Although the editor notes in his
introduction that the collection
focuses only on the non-Hispanic
Caribbean because the films of
Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela
have been adequately treated
elsewhere, some references to
production in those countries would
have been helpful.
One can only hope that with
the publication of this volume,
more of the films discussed here

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


will be made available through
distribution, for many of these
films are as difficult to see in their
own country of production as they
are elsewhere.

Susan Ryan
Rutgers University
New Jersey, U.S.

(This review has been reprinted
with permission from Review:
Latin American Literature and
the Arts, 46, Fall 1992. Copyright
1992 by the Americas Society, Inc.)

Cine v muier en America
Latina: Directoras de largo-
metrajes de ficci6n
Luis Trelles Plazaola
Rio Piedras: Editorial de la
Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1991.

A pesar de la gran cantidad
de peliculas que se exhiben en
Puerto Rico y del puablico que
masivamente las respalda, en este
pals se describe poco de cine y se lee
menos todavia. Poco a poco la
critica de cine que aparece en los
peri6dicos se le ha dado importancia
y ha adquirido sus seguidores. La
labor de los programs de cine en la
Universidad de Puerto Rico y
esporidicamente en otras
universidades, han ayudado a
ubicar al publico joven en el arte
cinematogrifico. En la Escuela de
Comunicaci6n P6blica various
estudiantes han completado su
maestria (M.A.) con una
concentraci6n en cine, ya sea su

mfsica, historic o critical. Estos
estudiantes a su vez contagian a
otros con su fervor por el cine.
Nuestras propias producciones de
cine en la d6cada del 80 han ganado
el respeto del p6blico. Aunque a
paso lento, se va estableciendo una
cultural cinematogrifica en Puerto
Como professor de cine de la
Escuela de Comunicaci6n Pdblica,
critic de cine del diario The San
Juan Star y el semanario El
Visitante, y como autor de dos
libros sobre cine y un diccionario
de cine sudamericano que ha tenido
una gran acogida (y ahora en su
traducci6n al ingl6s el mercado se
amplia), el professor Luis Trelles se
ha distinguido a trav6s de los afios
por su trabajo riguroso a favor del
cine como instrument educativo y
creative. Esta rigurosidad en su
trabajo investigative hace de sus
escritos anteriores y de Cine y
Mujer en Amtrica Latina en
particular, una aportaci6n a este
campo que aunque lentamente, va
adquiriendo en Puerto Rico un
respeto y una audiencia mas alli de
los incondicionales del cine.
Las mujeres como
realizadoras adquirieron
importancia en las d6cadas del 70 y
80 con su ascenso a los grupos del
nuevo cine alemAn, francs y
latinoamericano. Se les destaca en
Festivales de cine de mujeres, pero
por lo general, la critica no le
brinda el apoyo y el studio que
merecen. Por eso la aportaci6n del
Profesor Trelles en este campo
adquiere todavia mis importancia.
El haber logrado unas entrevistas
tan dinimicas con mujeres tan
similares y distintas, hace de la
lecture de estas entrevistas (que son
en verdad como conversaciones)
una experiencia amena y de gran
profundidad. Su respeto por la voz y
el estilo de cada cineasta hace que
estas mujeres se presented como

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


series humans con unas
preocupaciones muy propias como
personas y creadoras. Las
introducciones a cada entrevistada,
su filmografla y bibliografla al
final, son recursos indispensables
para un studio serio del cine.
En la introducci6n, el Prof.
Trelles ofrece un trasfondo
hist6rico y politico de los palses de
America Latina durante su
desarrollo cinematogrifico.
Creemos que se necesita ser mis
preciso en las fechas y los nombres
(apenas se mencionan) ya que la
political del gobierno de turn
subsidia, ofrece ayudas o reprime el
desarrollo de este cine. Tampoco se
establece en la introducci6n del
libro la relaci6n entire los cambios
politicos y su efecto en el cine
national. Por ejemplo, es
important sefialar c6mo el cine
argentino (compuesto de gremios)
se ve afectado por las dos
presidencias de Per6n y luego por
las represiones militares; qu6 tipo
de censura se hace; cuil es la
producci6n cinematografica en el
sector privado y de los proyectos
auspiciados por el gobierno durante
estos cambios politicos. Asi
podriamos entender mejor cuando
una de las directors menciona
c6mo su pelicula fue censurada por
haber usado como actor en su film
a Luis Brandoni. Estos datos y su
relaci6n con el cine en Am6erica
Latina le pueden dar una estructura
bAsica y fundamental para las
excelentes entevistas que hace el
Prof. Trelles.
Trelles incluye en su libro a
once mujeres de largometrajes de
ficci6n representatives de la
producci6n cinematogrifica
contemporinea de America Latina.
Estas son Suzana Amaral, Ana
Carolina, Tereza Trautman y Tizuka
Yamasaki de Brasil; Busi Cortes,
Marcela FernAndez Violante y
Matilde Landeta de M6xico; Maria

Luisa Bemberg y Eva Landeck de
Argentina; Marilda Vera y Solveig
Hoogesteijn de Venezuela. Se
especifica el lugar y la fecha de
cada entrevista y aunque las
preguntas son dirigidas a cada
realizadora en particular, todas
giran alrededor de los siguientes
temas: procedencia socio-
econ6mica, influencia y apoyo
familiar, de d6nde surge el interns
por el cine, studios y/o
entrenamiento en el campo del
cine, comienzos en este medio,
preguntas especificas sobre sus
peliculas (temas, dificultades de
producci6n y distribuci6n,
selecci6n de actors, metodo de
direcci6n), y si consideran que su
cine tiene una perspective
femenina/feminista que las aparte
del cine traditional
latinoamericano. En cada pregunta
del entrevistador se evidencia el
gran conocimiento que tiene de la
vida y la obra filmica de cada
realizadora. Por esta raz6n las
contestaciones que ofrecen las
entrevistadas son tan precisas y
A trav6s de la entrtevista con
Tizuka Yamasaki nos acercamos al
Cine Novo de Brasil donde esta
realizadora llev6 a cabo su
aprendizaje. Matilde Landeta por su
parte nos dramatiza lo que fue ser
mujer director en los aflos 40 en
M6xico. Sin duda las entrevistas
mis pensadas, detalladas y que
revelan un entendimiento del cine
como funci6n social y el rol de la
mujer en esta estructura, son las de
Maria Luisa Bemberg de la
Argentina y Solveig Hoogesteijn de
Venezuela. Bemberg insert su
experiencia filmica dentro de la
realidad political y econ6mica de su
pals. Los golpes militares, la
represi6n brutal que sufri6 este
pals en la d6cada del 70 y su efecto
en la producci6n cinematogrifica,
han moldeado su propio cine.

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Hoogesteijn analiza la tematica de
sus filmes y del cine venezolano en
general dentro del clima de
violencia a todos los niveles que
caracteriza a este pals de tradici6n
democritica. Plantea c6mo la
influencia del cine y la television
norteamericana le han dado un giro
a los medios de comunicaci6n
masiva que como resultado han
insensibilazado a esta poblaci6n.
Cada una de estas entrevistas
en Cine v Mujer son pequeffas
histories de c6mo hacer cine en una
region muy parecida a la nuestra,
donde la mujer ha tenido que luchar
contra multiples obsticulos para
demostrar que su arte es tan vilido
como el de sus compafleros

Maria Cristina Rodriguez
Universidad de Puerto Rico
Recinto de Rio Piedras

La 6ltima noche que pasf
Mayra Montero
Barcelona: Tusquets Editores, 1991.

La fltima noche que past
contigo. Mayra Montero's second
novel, was a runner-up in the
Sonrisa Vertical erotic literature
contest. Because of its portrayal of
the Caribbean as a fictional space,
the novel has caused quite a stir
among Puerto Rican readers.
Structurally immaculate, it tells the
story of Felipe and Celia, a middle-
aged couple that are touring the
Caribbean. This voyage awakens
memories of other trips to exotic
regions of consciousness. From the

moment they board the cruise ship,
flashbacks of erotic encounters
appear in the novel, creating an
equation between the Caribbean
and estranged sexuality. It is as if
the bodies and the minds of Celia
and Felipe are also cruising around,
traveling and hopping from island
to island of desire. And it is
precisely the way in which the
protagonists travel among bodies,
islands and time what has left many
readers floating in the discursive
waters of the novel.
The novel consists of eight
chapters. A different bolero song
serves as title to each of them. The
first chapter is narrated by Felipe,
the second by Celia, the third by
Felipe and so on. Thus, Montero
creates a pattern of narration that
shifts the voices of the novel's
protagonists. This enables the
reader to follow, not only Felipe's
but Celia's process of change and
interpretation of experiences. The
reference to popular romantic
music creates an ambiance that
accompanies the tourists in the
exotic appreciation of themselves
and of the Caribbean: its geography
and odors, its people and modes of
life. They also add to the careful
web of structures of variation and
unification, since those boleros
help to translate feelings of loss,
lust, love and companionship
between those who interact within
the itinerary of the cruise ship.
Each of the chapters gathers Celia's
and Felipe's memories of lustful
encounters, their interpretations of
themselves as sexualized beings,
and their fears of death and
boredom. The novel begins with
those fears. Commenting on the
status of their newly wedded
daughter, whose marriage has left
them free to take this trip (alone at
last), Celia says--"No se ha muerto--
hizo una pausa--se ha casado, que si
vamos a ver es peor." (11) From the
beginning, the novel presents the

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


quest pursued by these tourists--to
escape from death and from a
marriage that is worse than death,
since it routinized love, life and
lust, taking away all their
But chapters are not the only
structural unit that organizes La
61tima noche.... Each of the
chapters is broken into sections. To
separate these sections, Montero
inserts seven love letters between
two mysterious characters, Angela
and Abel, whose real identities are
veiled to the reader until the very
last chapter of the novel. These
letters .add a touch of suspense to
the novel, enhancing the erotic
variations within it.
Montero uses several tricks
to tie up the episodes in this novel.
The love affair between Celia and
Agustin Conejo (a concierge she
met while visiting her hospitalized
father) is surprisingly tied to
Felipe's affair with Julieta, the
harpist he meets in the cruise ship.
Later in a conversation, Julieta
confesses that she was married for
18 years to a trumpet player named
Agustin Conejo. They lived happy,
sensuous lives until he died while
playing a gig in Martinique. Yet, in
a mysterious letter that Julieta
sends Felipe, but that only Celia
reads, the harpist confessess that
much of her story is a lie. Since the
reader has no access to this letter,
Julieta and her lifestory remain a
mystery. So does the relationship of
these two women with Felipe and
Conejo. Montero lets the reader
decide whether Julieta is a fictional
counterpart to Celia. However, it is
clear that once Julieta leaves the
cruiseship, Celia's sensuality goes
back to "normal," as if a part of her
has died, has gone away forever.
There is another discourse
that contributes to the novel's
unity--the double-play between

desire and pain, life (synecdotically
represented through sex) and
death. The choice made by middle-
aged couples and their lovers, is
what maintains the tension
between those poles. Their
closeness to death and routine feeds
those other desires to reaffirm life.
However, in their intense need to
"live" they deny life itself in all its
complexity. They shrink it,
stereotype it, by constraining it to
sex. Ultimately, each chapter
reveals that all the main characters
in La 61ltioma noche... cannot
internalize lust in their common
and ordinary lives. This is why
they have to exotize their bodies (by
looking at it as seen by others),
exotize sexuality (by constantly
comparing it with "those" of
different races and species), exotize
space (by going in a cruise ship
through the Caribbean), and even
their own identity. Only in those
constant displacements can they
become alive, lusty and sensuous.
The way in which it deals
with sexuality is what makes this
novel ambiguous. Only cliches are
used: blacks have big penises that
can break women apart, women
enjoy violent sex, Chinese (or
Japanese, they are all the same--as
Julieta argues) are skillful lovers,
animal or animalistic sex is more
enticing, the Caribbean is the
sinful place for brutal, uninhibited
sexuality. Thse cliches are supposed
to be the ways that distance Felipe
and Celia from their ordinary lives
(middle age fear of death, bourgeois
boredom, annulment). However,
these same cliches tie them to
familiar places. Whenever they see
something new, they immediately
interpret it as savagery, a sign of
death and, therefore, an enticement
to their lust. In the novel there is
never an encounter with what is
foreign, The Caribbean can only be
reached via the well-known

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Eurocentric versions of its
exhuberant decadence.
It is precisely this
accumulation and search for "exotic
and savage" ways to uninhibitedly
enjoying life which makes La
iltima noche que past contigo
very suspicious. The way in which
this novel's discourse is construed
makes one wonder who is its
potential ideal reader. It is
definitely not an Afro, or Chinese
or Caribbean potential reader, and
undoubtedly it is not woman-
centered. There is not a hint of
exploration of the exotized Other,
that is, the body, alternative
sexuality, womanhood, the
Caribbean self. Sex is always linked
to power games and violence.
Celia's and Julieta's role in sex is to
pretend that they are fighting it
while opening their legs to expose
themselves and permit men to enjoy
them. Lust is always surrounded by
alcohol, filth and weakness brought
by "those Caribbean savages" (their
food, their rites, their odors). These
protect the lovers from taking on
any responsibility over their acts.
One may argue that this
aspect can be read as a critique of
this kind of sexuality. However, I
could not find any trace of irony
within La iltima noche.... Felipe
and Celia's problems, fantasies and
expectations are portrayed with
great seriousness. The readers are
supposed to identify with Celia's
violent copulating with Conejo and
with Felipe's interest in animal
copulation and his control over
Julieta's sexuality.
This aspect alienates me as an
Afro-Caribbean female reader. The
unproblematic pseudomimetic
approach to "white" middle-class
desires leaves me wondering
whether this novel has a serious
relevance outside of its immediate
context--the Sonrisa Vertical erotic

literature contest. It also makes me
wonder if the only way
contemporary writers can write
about Caribbean sensuality is either
by denying that we have one (or
several), or by repeating the
stereotyped versions of those
touring our region, whether in
cruise ships or in the Pinta, the
Nifia and the Santa Maria.

Mayra Santos
Universidad de Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Moorings and Metaphors

Karla Holloway.
Moorings and Metaphors:
Figures of Culture and Gender
in Black Women's Literature.
New Brunswick, New Jersey:
Rutgers University Press, 1992.

Karla Holloway's book
demonstrates both the strengths
and the weaknesses of probing
essences of race and gender in
literary analysis. With the use of a
largely deconstructive
methodology, she strives, however,
for a cultural meaning in the
language and figures of Black
women's writing. She discusses as
recursivee' structures from a
variety of novels--Buchi Emecheta,
Flora Nwapa, Paule Marshall, for
example. These recursivee'
structures multiply narrative
structure through an interplay of
orature and literature. In an
example from Ama Ata Aidoo, for
instance, Holloway analyses the
ambiguity of verb phrases in the
opening lines of a short story in
order to demonstrate a notion of

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


time that she reads as 'non-
Western.' One aspect of recursion,
repetition, also identified as a
literary, linguistic and cultural
trope in Black writing, links oral
with written. Holloway
foregrounds gender in her
discussion of repetition. For the
Black women writer, the recursive
word returns to voice 'as the center
in an intentional displacement of
the scriptocentric West.'
The ancestor metaphor is
another instance of recursion. She
is the linking of gender and
culture, linking figuratively and
metaphorically, the textual
strategies of remembrance,
revision and recursion. Similarly,
the Goddesses.
While Holloway's is a
promising project, the work is
marred by assertion rather than
interpretation. Too often, the thesis
is reiterated instead of argued and
substantiated with rigour. This
becomes especially obvious because
the notion of essences--of an
African female essence that persists
across continents--needs to be
examined. Essentialism runs the
risk of leaving processes of
discrimination intact, and does not
historicize adequately crucial
factors such as divisions of class
and tribe. Most of the textual
examples cited by Holloway might
not bear historical scrutiny.

Nalini Natarajan
University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Joaquin Balaguer.
Memorias de un cortesano en
la era de Trujillo.
Santo Domingo: Editora Corripio,

Joaquin Balaguer's more
than two dozen books--novels,
essays, poetry, literary criticism,
histories, and speeches--attest to a
longstanding, varied, and prolific
life. In 1921, he published his first
collection of poems, "Psalmos
paganos," in his beloved hometown
of Santiago. His autobiography,
Memorias de un cortesano en
la era de Trujillo (Memoirs of a
Courtier in the Era of Trujillo),
published in 1988, became an
instant bestseller, rushing into
seven editions within a five-month
span. It is an intimate vision of the
villainy, dreams and
disillusionment of twentieth
century Dominican politics. It
describes, without remorse or
indignation, the cruelty that
accompanies unrestrained power
and the moral malaise of ambitious
and obsequious men who support it.
"I am not trying to justify the moral
responsibility that can be levelled
at me for my participation during
thirty years in Trujillo's dictatorial
regime," Balaguer writes. "In these
pages, I want to explain to myself
and to those who will read me in the
future, the reason for my passivity
before events and situations
repellant to my moral dictates and
to the sentiments that give moral
authority to my ideas" (108).
Unlike most political
memoirs written in retirement,
Balaguer's autobiography was
written during his fifth term (1) as
President of the Dominican
Republic. His narrative, spanning
nearly eight decades, resembles
many of the testimonials of the
Trujillo era that have gained
popularity in recent years;

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


however, these reminiscences tend
to be written by victims of Trujillo's
autocratic regime rather than by
one of the dictator's reluctant yet
loyal supporters (2). By
appropriating their rhetoric,
Balaguer constructs a narrative
discourse which subverts the
authority of critics to judge the sins
of his past.
As narrator, Balaguer
appears at ease with his past, proud
of his accomplishments, and
unwilling to confess to complicity
in acts of political intimidation and
state corruption (3). Although he
juxtaposes collective amorality with
private shame, ignoble
collaboration with the nobility of a
national cause, he circumvents the
very issue of his own moral
passivity. We learn of his
weaknesses and of those of others
in the light of intense social
pressure; but at no point in his
narrative text do we witness
feelings of guilt. In admitting us
into his thoughts and, often,
intimate recollections,
furthermore, he succeeds at moral
Although his autobiography
is more conciliatory than
apologetic, it repudiates much of
the evil of the past while recreating
a narrative persona, a courtier,
dedicated to public service.
Balaguer's "Renaissance" man
stands at center stage, interacting
with and presenting characters of
psychological complexity, each
with his own tragic flaw. In minor
roles are heads of state, historians,
wives, gangsters, heirs, writers and
religious leaders, diplomats and
soldiers, each deferring to the
ignoble "prince" throughout his
lengthy reign. In Balaguer's
morality play, every politician is an
lago (373); and the stain of moral
incertitude makes cowards of them

Balaguer's rhetorical "mask"
distances him from the atrocities of
the Trujillo regime. Trapped in a
web of amoral passivity, his
protagonist is an innocent
bystander, always on the sidelines
or out of state when terror strikes
and innocent lives are taken. The
question of political collaboration
recedes as the man of diplomacy
and letters, laboring in the shadow
of Trujillo emerges. By juxtaposing,
just below the surface, his
attractive persona as a
"Renaissance courtier" to his
activities in the service of a tyrant,
he avoids the readers' judgment. It
is precisely this "double" character
of Balaguer's narrative self that
adds to his elusiveness.
To justify his own servitude
to a tyrannical "Prince," in a court
where "everyone had a price and
all were capable of selling
themselves for a post or a sum of
money" (365), Balaguer pleads
historical necessity. Because of its
long duration, most of the talented
Dominicans were drawn into it.
"Most of those who, at the
beginning, energetically
repudiated the regime, ended up
being drawn to the octopus by its
tentacles which little by little
spread throughout the nation, into
even, all of its homes," he explains.
"He who openly defied him knew
that he condemned himself to
remain in the country as an outlaw,
seen by the majority with
apprehension and without the right
to enjoy the expansion of social
order which belongs to all human
beings" (259).
Balaguer's nationalism, the
subtext of his discourse, functions
as a colligative motif determining
events, political postures, and even
the autobiography's didactic theme.
To understand Balaguer's
autobiographical intentions, one
must relate his narrative persona to
his nationalist endeavors, for as he

SARGASSO 8 (1992) Caribbean Film


narrates his story, he projects a
political philosophy that serves to
uphold the hegemonic power of the
Dominican bourgeoisie and military
class. His nationalism is rooted in
the idea that democracies survive
when led by intellectual elites; and
his vision of history is infused with
the Renaissance ideals of
intellectual nobility, eloquence, and
unbenity. Like Machiavelli,
Balaguer sees history as an
evolutionary process leading
communities from barbarism to
In Balaguer's interpretation
of history, the establishment of the
world's first Black republic in
neighboring Saint Domingue in
1804 and Haiti's subsequent insular
expansionism mark the beginning
of cultural identity problems for
the Dominican Republic. To
Balaguer, Haiti remains the nation's
largest problem (4); and his fear of
"africanization" echoes the fears of
the planter class of the Hispanic
Caribbean in the 19th century. His
portrayal of the heroic homeland,
"limited only by its geographical
boundaries," stimulates ethnic and
national pride. Dominicans are an
"excellent race," he tells his
readers, a "chosen race" among the
"exceptional peoples" of the world.
Although Balaguer's
narrative "mask" cannot hide the
stains of past sins, it cloaks the
contradictions between the
nobility of his ideals and the
immorality of his role in the most
brutal era in modern Dominican
history. The high point of his
narrative is when as president in
1961, he employs his persuasive
skills to garner the support of an
unruly military at home and of the
international community at public
forums. Vividly, he recalls the first
days following Trujillo's
assassination by a group of

Dominican nationals assisted by U.S.
secret service agents and
supervised by Calvin Hill. Balaguer
argues that he managed to control
the oppressive military
establishment serving the Trujillo
family, but not the secret gangs
that carried out widespread
atrocities against the civilian
population. It is here, in this
section of his memoirs, where he
relates his goals and responsibilities
as Head of State in a rapidly
changing environment that his
reason for writing his
autobiography becomes clear.
Attacked to this day for the political
repression that took place in 1961-
62, he attempts to set the record
straight, to explain the difficult
circumstances surrounding his
leadership at the time and to affirm
his dedication to the democratic
His autobiographical self-
portrait is a way of reliving and
justifying a past; and it is
appropriate that he who is often
described as "enigmatic," a
pragmatist who learned "to listen
and not to speak unnecessarily, and
to give away nothing
unintentionally through facial
expression or body language," (6)
should end his reminiscences with
an epilogue from Stendhal, a master
of the art of masking.
Memorias de un
cortesano en la era de Truiillo
helps to explain Balaguer's genius
at surviving political intrigue and
his long-term rhetorical success in
Dominican politics. It should be
read as a testament to the ignobility
of leaders in an age of unbridled
corruption and of the powerful role
of cultural nationalism in
perpetuating the hegemony of
powerful and repressive political

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