Curated by Nestor Siré, Pedro Navarro and Armando Navarro Rojas
“Poor cinema does not mean cinema lacking in ideas or artistic quality but refers to a cinema of restricted economy”
I keep thinking about Humberto Solás’ concept of poor cinema when I reflect on the Audiovisual Movement in Nuevitas (MAN) and what they have achieved with Hieroscopia, their festival, which is now in its 9th edition. This movement was born in a small coastal town of no more than 38,000 inhabitants in central Cuba and is, perhaps, the closest representation of that truly alternative cinema to which Humberto Solás referred when he founded the Gibara Poor Film Festival.
The genesis of MAN was around 2007 when a group of friends with no film training discovered that it was possible to create audiovisuals with practically nothing more than creativity and a lot of desire to do. In connection with the community, they began to produce materials, such as fictions, documentaries, music videos, video art and posters, where the protagonists were their own family members, neighbors, and local inhabitants. In these early days, they produced materials that would later be presented at festivals, such as the Muestra de Jóvenes Realizadores and the Almacén de la Imagen. After two years, they decided to found the film festival Hieroscopia since their videos were screened in other cities, but not in Nuevitas. It was also a pretext to bring friends and filmmakers from other parts of the country and abroad to share their professional experiences and, above all, to involve them in the way of making films in the good nuevitero style.
This past summer, we would have celebrated the tenth edition of the Festival of the Audiovisual Movement in Nuevitas, Hieroscopia. We have all witnessed how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of millions of people around the world. The covidianity, which was not read in the eyes of the dead fish by any shrewd interpreter of prophecies, has made us rethink the alternatives—suspend, postpone, or adapt—so many artistic events have opted for digital initiatives.
Thus arose this year’s peculiar proposal of HIEROSCOPIA 9.1, Against Wind and Pandemic. Showing their particular resilience in the face of adverse circumstances, the organizers of Hieroscopia called for an intermediate edition between 9 and 10, with a digital and home format; something like a rehearsal for what is to come when they can celebrate in situ and without the restrictions of their efforts, results, and reinventions that bear the seal of the house. A way to continue promoting a space for the community that has been generated around the movement to meet and communicate in the only common language: film and art.
Here we share seven short films that have marked a guideline in the evolution of the movement, materials that are part of the historical memory of Nuevitas. I believe that Humberto showed the way and MAN has walked it. And against wind and pandemic, it seems that they will continue to do so.
As part of the project Interregnum: between emergence and contamination, a publication and virtual exhibition curated by Patricia Margarita Hernández, developed during her participation in the Artis Curatorial Residency Program in 2020.
The Audiovisual Movement in Nuevitas (MAN for its acronym in Spanish) refers to the community management (production, audiovisual literacy, exhibition and distribution) that a group of young people has been developing in Nuevitas, Cuba, since 2007. This initiative is, in principle, demarcated from the official Cuban political-cultural institution. It responds to the contest of the efforts of its members and the inhabitants of the municipality. In terms of professional artistic training, the central nucleus comes from the Schools of Art Instructors in the specialties of Theater, Plastic, Music and Dance. The learning curve in audiovisual production is based on practice and participation in workshops, conferences, courses, festivals and other educational-training experiences. To date, around 100 materials have been produced, including fictions, documentaries, music videos, video art and posters. Since 2012, they have organized the annual Hieroscopia audiovisual show, where works produced by MAN and other community production spaces in Cuba are exhibited. The meeting also serves as an opportunity for the theoretical exchange on audiovisual practice, taking advantage of the presence of filmmakers, critics, journalists and, in general, dissimilar personnel dedicated to film on the island. Due to perseverance at work, the management of spaces for creation and debate, and the vocation for technical and aesthetic improvement, MAN has become a focus of contemporary Cuban audiovisuals.
Current Members of MAN
Pedro Navarro, Hugo Navarro Ramírez, Eyder Armas, Saraí Díaz Martín, Mailin Echevarría Bárzaga, Laura Maria Había Genaro, Inés Rita Marín Izaguirre, Yahima Méndez, Ariadna Matos Álvarez, Armando Navarro Rojas, Yamila Olazábal Cañizares, Roberto Carlos Piloto Morciego, Dayron Porrua, Arlette Salt Pardillo, Javier Sánchez Recio, Geordanis Santana Aviles, Nestor Siré, Yadier Riveron, Yuset Torres, Leonardo Gómez, Mirayda Vilallonga and Yoandra Arias Pérez.