Enrique Pineda Barnet was a Cuban film director, screenwriter, journalist, and actor. PHOTOGRAPHY: @MuseoCuba
Enrique Pineda Barnet was a Cuban film director, screenwriter, journalist, and actor. Photo: @MuseoCuba

Four films to remember Enrique Pineda Barnet

The death of the legendary Cuban filmmaker leaves a rich introspective and experimental filmography that continues to function as an avant-garde.


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On Jan. 12, 2021, Enrique Pineda Barnet passed away in Havana, on the island where he was born in 1933, leaving behind more than 20 film projects, in which he experimented with new formats to reflect Cuban life and the anti-imperialist Latin identity.

Not only did he expand the parameters of fiction and documentary, but also worked as a teacher and advisor and was the founder of numerous academies and studies.

As this year's Goya Award nominations are being celebrated, here are four of the great works of Pineda Barnet, who was the first Cuban to win a Goya in 1990. That same year, he was a nominee for an Oscar, and one of his experimental short films is also part of the permanent collection at the Reina Sofia in Madrid.

A screenwriter, journalist and actor, his multifaceted presence as a fuel for the audiovisual avant-garde was reincarnated by Martin Scorsese and Ford Coppola when they raised Soy Cuba (1964) to the altars of the seventh art.

The world is now mourning the death of the great filmmaker and what better way to pay tribute to him than to review his intense career.

1. Giselle (1963)

A reference film for ballet lovers in which Pineda Barnet follows Alicia Alonso halfway between documentary and fiction. The filmmaker wanted to approach the project following Alicia and the National Ballet's consort as if they were actresses, a disposition that gave them absolute magic to shine as characters.

2. Soy Cuba (1964)

Russia had Eisenstein and The Battleship Potemkin (1926), but in 1964 Mikhail Kalatozov went with the poet Evgeny Evtushenko to record the epic of the revolution in Havana — a catastrophic adventure that Pineda Barnet collaborated on. With striking sequence shots and archetypal characters, the film was denounced for its ideological excess until it was recovered by critics 30 years later.

3. Cosmorama (1964)

The same year of Soy Cuba, Pineda Barnet directed an experimental short film that attracted the attention of academics and is now part of the permanent collection of the Reina Sofia in Madrid. This experimental "kinetic" piece was based on Space Poem No. 1 by the Cuban-Romanian painter Sandú Darié.

4. La bella del Alhambra (1989)

Probably his best known and multi-award winning work in which Pineda Barnet dissects the Latin relationship between music and film through what he defined as "musical melodrama."

He therefore expanded the scope of the musical while inserting the essence of the Cuban musical tradition with new formats. Based on a novel by Cuban writer Miguel Barnet called Canción de Rachel, it follows the story of a vedette at the Alhambra Theater to reconstruct the Cuban artistic atmosphere in the 1920s.


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