Key Figure of Cuban Cinema Alfredo Guevara Passes Away


The president and founder of the Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano de La Habana, Alfredo Guevara (pictured) passed away this morning at the age of 87 in Cuba. A prolific figure in the arts and a strong supporter of Cuban and Latin American cinema, Guevara was also the founder and president of the influential Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC), which was created two months after Castro's revolution began and produced an impressive body of artistic and political work, and fueled the career of many key filmmakers such as Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Humberto Solás and Santiago Álvarez.

Born on December 31, 1925 in Havana, Guevara studied for a doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Havana, where he first met Fidel Castro. Often participating in student protests against the Batista dictatorship, he endured persecution and multiple arrests. Guevara's life was consistently intertwined with the Cuban revolution, eventually becoming a close friend of Castro's during their college years.

In the first months of 1959, right after the Cuban Revolution, the new government created ICAIC under the leadership of Guevara. ICAIC was founded as a government agency to control film production, distribution, and exhibition in the country.  The Cuban government gave cinema a pivotal role as result of the first culture law and Cuban cinema flourished under the banner of anti-imperialism and revolution. Some key films of this era are Memorias del subdesarrollo / Memories of Underdevelopment (1968) by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, and Lucía (1969) by Humberto Solás.

In 1975 Guevara appointed Deputy Minister of Culture of Cuba, served as the island's ambassador to UNESCO in the 1980's, and he was the author of numerous books and essays. Guevara was also the founder of the Havana Film Festival in 1979, and remained its president until his death. For years, Guevara also directed the annual film festival, one of the most emblematic presentations of film in the country and whose mission was to honor cinematographic achievements, from their significance to artistic values in enriching and reaffirming the Latin American and Caribbean cultural identity.