Venezuela Cinematography (2004)

By | December 16, 2021

The history of cinema in Venezuela intersects in depth with the political and cultural development of the country and with the economic phases that have gone through it. The first public screening took place on 28 January 1897 in Maracaibo where, together with a program of Lumière shorts, two films shot in Venezuela, Un célebre especialista sacando muelas en el Gran Hotel Europa and Muchachos bañándose en la laguna de Maracaibo were also presented, both attributed to Manuel Trujillo Durán. Despite the success, the event was not the beginning of a national production: in the country, essentially agricultural and controlled by a few large landowners, as well as crossed by coups and military dictatorships (from 1908 to 1935 the Venezuela was ruled by the dictatorship of General JV Gómez who maintained the economy of the country linked to large estates) the conditions for the birth of a cinema industry did not occur, nor for a strong interest in it by the state. The history of cinema in Venezuela was at the beginning a fragmented and episodic story: MA Gonhom and Augusto González Vidal made with the Lumière system two films on the celebrations of the carnival in Caracas, Carnaval en Caracas, (1909), and Carnaval en Caracas de 1911, (1911); in 1913, Enrique Zimmermann’s La Dama de las Cayenas or Pasión y muerte de Margarita Gutiérrez was released, the first feature film, while Edgar J. Anzola, Jacobo Capriles and Juan Iturbe made the first scientific documentary, El tripanosoma venezolano (1921). Anzola and Capriles founded the Triunfo Film production company in 1924, for which they directed La trepadora (1924), considered the first feature film with a subject, and Amor, tú eres la vida (1925). In 1927 the Laboratorio Cinematográfico de la Nación (LCN) was created, a state body (which lasted until 1937) aimed at encouraging the production of films produced directly by the State, including La venus de nácar (1932) by Efraín Gómez, the first attempt to make a sound film. To be counted among the first sound short films Taboga and Hacia el calvario, both by Rafael Rivero and from 1938, while the first sound feature film was El rompimiento (1938) by Antonio María Delgado Gómez. Characteristic of these first experiments both in silent and in sound was the desire of the various authors to imitate styles and languages ​​of European cinema, transferring them to a less urbanized society such as the Venezuelan one. The search for an autonomous path for cinema in Venezuela prompted the writer Ròmulo Gallegos to found the production company Avila Films, in which he brought together some young directors and technicians to create the foundations of a national cinema. After a few short films financed by the state, Avila produced Rivero’s Juan de la Calle (1941), based on an original subject by Gallegos himself: the lost film focused on the stories of abandoned children. Avila Films went bankrupt and its founder, after the establishment of the revolutionary junta of R. Betancourt in 1945, was elected president of the Republic in 1947; the following year a military coup overthrew him and again imposed the dictatorship in the country. Avila Films went bankrupt and its founder, after the establishment of the revolutionary junta of R. Betancourt in 1945, was elected president of the Republic in 1947; the following year a military coup overthrew him and again imposed the dictatorship in the country. Avila Films went bankrupt and its founder, after the establishment of the revolutionary junta of R. Betancourt in 1945, was elected president of the Republic in 1947; the following year a military coup overthrew him and again imposed the dictatorship in the country. For Venezuela 2011, please check internetsailors.com.

To encourage national production, Bolívar Films, founded in 1942, began a policy of co-productions with the much more advanced Argentine film industry: Argentine director Carlos Hugo Christensen directed El demonio es un ángel (1949) and La balandra Isabel llegó esta tarde (1950; L’amante creole), awarded at Cannes for the best photography in 1951. The 1950s began in the sign of greater openness towards the film market and in the capital, cineclubs and cultural associations linked to cinema were born. César Enríquez made La escalinata (1950), which attempted a new path for Venezuelan cinema. New paths were also experimented in the documentary in these years: in 1958 Araya by director Margot Benacerraf was released, on the salt mines of the Venezuela, work awarded by international critics at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959. In the same year one of the most significant directors of the sixties and seventies, Román Chalbaud (with Caín as a teenager), made his feature film debut, while, in 1961, José Martín’s Chimichimito won the Bear silver at the Berlin Film Festival. The 1960s saw a relaunch of cinema: Benacerraf was one of the founders of the Cinemateca Nacional and in 1967 the magazine “Cine al día” was published, a place for debate on the poetics of the new Latin American cinema. A new generation of filmmakers – including Jesus Enrique Guédez, Nelson Arrieti, Carlos Rebolledo, Jacobo Borges, Alfredo Anzola, Donald Myerston, the Uruguayans Ugo Ulive and Jorge Solé – gave birth to a militant and socially denounced cinema. La ciudad que nos ve (1965) by Guédez and Pozo muerto (1966) by Rebolledo are among the most successful examples of the new political documentary. Interest in the documentary also led to the organization (starting in 1968) of the Documentary Film Festival in Mérida and the creation of the film department of the Universidad de los Andes. The 1973 oil crisis favored the Venezuela industry (one of the major Latin American oil producers) which saw its turnover increase tenfold and the State then began an investment policy also in the cinema, through the creation of suitable structures, so much so that the production increased considerably. Chalbaud directed El pez que fuma (1977); Mauricio Wallerstein with films such as Cuando quiero llorar no lloro (1973), Crónica de un subversivo latinoamericano (1975) and La empresa perdona un momento de locura (1978), explored the places of social contradiction in a realistic key; Alias, el Rey del Joropo (1978) by Rebolledo and Thaelman Urguelles revealed a stratified mechanism between reality and fiction close to certain more interesting outcomes of contemporary cinema, as well as La boda (1982) by Urguelles and Se llamaba SN (1977) by Luís Correa presented themselves as traces of the historical memory of the country, recalling events and tragedies related to military dictatorships.At the end of the seventies, the economic crisis linked to the rebalancing of the price of oil showed its effects also in the field of film production: state subsidies, production collapsed. In 1981 the Fondo de Fomento Cinematográfico (FONCINE) was established and production slowly resumed with a new generation of directors interested in issues related to the contemporary world of the country – such as Joaquín Cortés (Caballo selvaje, 1982), Jacobo Penzo (La casa de agua, 1984), Solveig Hoogesteijn (Macu, la mujer del policía, 1987) and above all Fina Torres, who made her debut with Oriana (1985), Caméra d’or Award at the Cannes Film Festival. After the economic crisis of 1989 and the coup attempts of 1992, in 1993 the law on cinema was approved with new structures designed to support production which, despite the difficult overall situation (in 1996, 38% of the population was below the poverty line), was not interrupted thanks also to state support.

Venezuela Cinematography